RAK DAO CEO on charting the course for the UAE's web3 frontier

In this interview with Adgully Middle East, Dr Sameer Al Ansari, CEO of RAK DAO, dives into the UAE's digital asset ambitions and how RAK DAO is fueling the nation's web3 revolution. He explores key issues like emerging trends, regulatory hurdles, user engagement, and educational initiatives. RAK Digital Assets Oasis is the only common law free zone in the world solely dedicated to non-regulated digital and virtual asset companies. Under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi, The Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah and oversight of its Chairman Sheikh Mohammed Bin Humaid Al Qassimi, Dr Sameer has played a key role in the creation of RAK DAO, building the team and shaping its future strategy. Excerpts from the interview:How would you describe the progress and key developments in the UAE's push for the web3 ecosystem over the past year, and how has RAK DAO contributed to this evolution?Over the past year, the UAE has made remarkable strides in advancing its web3 ecosystem. The commitment to embracing cutting-edge technologies is evident, and RAK DAO has played a pivotal role in this evolution. Our dedicated Free Zone in Ras Al Khaimah, the first of its kind globally, has been a hub for fostering innovation in digital assets. We've witnessed a surge in interest and participation from companies pushing the boundaries of the future. Our transparent legislative framework has simplified the process for virtual asset companies, creating an environment conducive to growth and development.As we have entered a new year, what do you see as the most significant emerging technology trends that will shape the digital asset landscape, and how is RAK DAO positioned to capitalize on these trends?As we approach 2024, several emerging technology trends will shape the digital asset landscape. RAK DAO is strategically positioned to capitalize on these trends. From the rise of decentralized finance (DeFi) to the integration of artificial intelligence and the continued development of Web3 gaming, we are committed to staying at the forefront of these advancements. Our goal is to be adaptive and forward-thinking, ensuring that RAK DAO remains a driving force in the digital asset space through establishing key alliances, both internationally and locally, and by working closely with key industry players to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.With the rapid growth of digital assets, regulatory frameworks are evolving. How is RAK DAO navigating the regulatory landscape, and what regulatory changes or advancements do you anticipate will impact the industry in 2024?The rapid growth of digital assets necessitates a dynamic approach to regulatory frameworks. RAK DAO is actively navigating this landscape, working closely with regulators to ensure compliance while fostering innovation. We anticipate further regulatory changes in 2024 and are prepared to adapt responsibly. Our commitment to transparency and collaboration positions us well to meet evolving regulatory requirements, contributing to the industry's maturation and credibility.The success of any digital asset ecosystem often hinges on user adoption. How is RAK DAO working to attract and engage users, and what strategies do you believe will be essential for increasing widespread adoption of digital assets in the coming year?User adoption is fundamental to the success of any digital asset ecosystem. RAK DAO is actively working to attract and engage users through strategic partnerships, user-friendly platforms, and community-building initiatives. We recognize the importance of user education and experience. In the coming year, our focus will be on implementing strategies that not only enhance user engagement but also contribute to the widespread adoption of digital assets by simplifying the onboarding process and providing valuable educational resources.Every industry faces challenges. What are the major challenges you foresee for RAK DAO and the broader digital asset industry in 2024, and what strategies or solutions do you envision to overcome these challenges?Challenges are inherent in any industry, and the digital asset landscape is no exception. Regulatory uncertainties, security concerns, and market volatility may pose challenges. RAK DAO is prepared to address these issues through continuous collaboration with regulators, implementing robust security measures, and fostering a resilient ecosystem. Strategic partnerships and global outreach will be pivotal in overcoming challenges and ensuring the sustained growth of both RAK DAO and the broader digital asset industry.Understanding digital assets and blockchain technology is crucial for their mainstream adoption. How is RAK DAO involved in educational initiatives to increase awareness and understanding, and what role do you believe education will play in the continued growth of the digital asset ecosystem?Education stands as a cornerstone for the mainstream adoption of digital assets and blockchain technology, a principle deeply acknowledged by RAK DAO, the pioneering common law freezone dedicated to digital and virtual asset companies. In a concerted effort to elevate awareness and understanding, we actively engage in educational initiatives, including programmees, workshops, and strategic partnerships. As part of our commitment to providing top-notch educational resources, we are excited to form collaborations with globally recognized educational institutions. By leveraging the expertise of these institutions, RAK DAO aims to empower individuals and businesses, fostering a well-informed community crucial for sustainable growth. Through these multifaceted efforts, we aspire to play a pivotal role in the continued growth and the eventual mainstream adoption of the digital asset ecosystem.

Beyond Dubai part 2: Unlocking PR prowess across the Arab world

Dubai boasts a state-of-the-art media infrastructure, including world-class facilities (including the media city) and cutting-edge technology. The city's commitment to innovation and its embrace of digital communication have propelled the PR industry forward. PR companies in Dubai leverage advanced tools and platforms to craft compelling narratives, engage audiences, and manage reputations effectively in an increasingly digital world. In the first part of this series (LINK), we analyzed what makes Dubai the focal point for PR companies in the Middle East.In the second part of this story, let us find out the major trends that drive the PR sector in the region and what PR pros in the region have to say about the untapped opportunities in the entire Middle East region.According to Anastasiya Golovatenko, PR Director at Sherpa Communications, the major trends are:Data-driven approach: PR is increasingly adopting data-driven strategies, fuelled by advancements in data analytics. In 2023, there was a notable focus on harnessing big data for deeper insights into target audience behaviour. This enables more personalized and impactful messaging for clients, enhancing brand resonance.Multimedia content: The growing reliance on smartphones underscores the significance of multimedia content. In 2023, people watched an average of 17 weekly hours of online videos, and they are 52% more likely to share video content than any other media. Leveraging audio and video formats allows PR companies to create immersive customer experiences. Integrating brands into podcasts, YouTube channels, and other media outlets beyond online and print publications that are tailored to the brand’s target audience's preferences is crucial.Simple brand messaging: In 2024, concise, catchy, and authentic brand messaging is important. Short, attention-grabbing messages resonate well on social media, reaching diverse audiences across channels.Flexibility is key: PR professionals must adapt swiftly to evolving news stories and changing client expectations. You can craft an excellent pitch and research the reporters you wish to contact, and still not get a response. Moreover, crises can escalate rapidly, necessitating swift and strategic crisis management approaches to protect brand reputation. Having multiple alternative strategies proactively and being responsive to shifting circumstances and the latest evolving stories helps ensure that the right message and angle are conveyed.Artificial Intelligence: AI is being increasingly integrated into PR efforts, automating tasks like media monitoring, social listening, content creation and data-driven targeting. Early adoption of AI tools provides a competitive edge and frees up time for growth-focused projects. As AI continues to advance, PR professionals should explore its potential for enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in their campaigns.<img src='\e98fd6a9e312543b1556363087dff360.png' class='content_image'>Similarly, Injeel Moti, Founder and Managing Director of Catch Communications, includes digital transformation, adoption of AI, purpose driven-PR and content marketing integration as top five trends.According to Natasha Hatherall, Founder &CEO, TishTash Communications, integrated, 360 marketing and PR agencies are definitely growing in response to client and market demand for a full-suite of communications services, especially in content creation.Regarding the changes in the PR industry in the last couple of years, Anastasiya Golovatenk observes that a prominent change is the emphasis on purpose-driven PR.<img src='\a8ccad7b3b77624d0e6057b39621fc15.png' class='content_image'>According to Golovatenk, companies are increasingly aligning their PR efforts with societal and environmental causes driven by changing consumer expectations, with people valuing businesses that demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility.“We have seen a huge influx of interest in companies to expand to the KSA, with launches, partnerships, and joint ventures being announced by UAE-based companies in the KSA as the nation’s government strengthens and diversifies its economy. However, a one-size-fits-all communication strategy doesn't work in the diverse Arab world. The strategy for the UAE will not work in Saudi Arabia or other countries in the region. Understanding of the local market will be crucial for PR agencies to perform,” adds Golovatenk.Injeel Moti observes that the PR industry has been increasingly embracing digital platforms and tools. This included using social media for real-time communication, data analytics to measure the impact of PR campaigns, and the adoption of AI and automation for tasks like media monitoring, content generation, and chatbot-driven customer engagement.A look into the futureDubai's evolution into a hub for PR companies is a testament to its commitment to excellence, innovation, and global connectivity. As the city continues to grow and diversify, the PR industry is likely to play an even more pivotal role in shaping the narratives of businesses operating in the region.On the future, Injeel Moti said: “There is a whole lot of opportunity in the region; not just Dubai, but the UAE and other GCC markets opening up has meant increased opportunity for brands to penetrate a new market and subsequently opening up space for professionals in the comms / PR space to execute campaigns.”<img src='\f40828fc8db1990a6f4d7557ff881ddd.png' class='content_image'>Concurring with Moti, Alex Malouf, Executive Director, Corporate Communications and PR expert, said: “What I would like to see is more investment and more growth in other markets. I’ve learned that it’s very difficult to do good communications remotely; you have to be on the ground if you want to have a real impact. I do believe that there’s a fallacy that we need to correct, which is the region is uniform due to the Arabic language and culture. Look at the UAE. Abu Dhabi, which is one hour’s drive away from Dubai, is a completely different place, with different demographics. So yes, Dubai is a wonderful hub, but if you’re only in Dubai and not in Cairo or Riyadh or Beirut or Doha, then I wouldn’t call you a Middle Eastern agency.”A word of cautionAnastasiya Golovatenk is optimistic about the future which appears promising for PR companies looking to establish a presence in Dubai.She, however, is giving a word of caution.“I would like to emphasize once again that only those who are willing to adapt, learn about this market, and consistently offer a professional approach will thrive. We observe numerous instances of businesses and individuals entering this market with half-baked or unprofessional approaches. Such approaches do not receive support from either businesses or the local PR community. Our goal is to build a high-level network of PR professionals here, and shortcuts will not last.”<img src='\277937f67e57d5693f50bd386a323265.png' class='content_image'>Well, Dubai's state-of-the-art media infrastructure and commitment to digital communication have fueled a thriving PR industry. AI integration, purpose-driven PR, and content marketing are rising trends, while understanding local market nuances across the diverse Arab world remains crucial. Despite Dubai's leading role, untapped potential abounds in other Middle Eastern markets, offering exciting opportunities for savvy PR professionals willing to adapt and embrace cultural differences. The future of PR in the region looks vibrant, promising dynamic campaigns and brand stories that resonate across borders.Tanu Chopra "In my 15 years of experience in the UAE and Middle East public relations sector, I've witnessed Dubai's significant transformation into a global PR hub. The UAE's leadership has played an important role in this shift, particularly in their steadfast support for digital innovation. This commitment has catalysed a paradigm shift within the public relations industry, fostering the integration of cutting-edge digital tools and methodologies that improve communication efficacy while encouraging new levels of creativity and involvement. Dubai's strategic geographical location, a cosmopolitan atmosphere, business-friendly regulations, and a luxurious lifestyle solidifies its position as a flourishing hub for global public relations firms. Dubai's relentless pursuit of innovation, seamlessly aligned with fundamental PR principles, positions it as an exemplar for achieving global success in the realm of public relations. The emirate stands as a testament to the harmonious fusion of innovation, strategic thinking, and a commitment to excellence, setting the standard for the future of the PR industry worldwide."<img src='\f06f3d69651634788826d6167912e74a.png' class='content_image'>

OMG MENA and The Neuron partner to boost programmatic digital OOH in the region

 First with digital screens and now with programmatic technology, out-of-home (OOH) is well and truly embracing its digital transformation. To keep its clients ahead of the curve in this dynamic space, Omnicom Media Group MENA has partnered with The Neuron to access the unique features of its specialist DSP (demand-side platform) to plan, book and monitor campaigns in more than 80 countries. This strategic collaboration promises to bring a new era of digital innovation and audience engagement for the medium.As well as holding firm in terms of share of brands’ media investments in MENA, at around 20% of the total, outdoor advertising is already seeing some 50% of its revenues going to digital sites, against a world average of 40%. The global programmatic digital OOH (pDOOH) market is projected to grow exponentially, thanks to advancements in data analytics and audience measurement that enable more effective and engaging campaigns.The Neuron is a specialist DSP for pDOOH advertising, a segment in outdoor advertising experiencing an unprecedented surge thanks to significant growth and technological advancements. Unlike most current DSPs, built for small screens and the open Web rather than OOH, The Neuron was designed with greater capabilities and a singular focus on outdoor. It helps users plan, book and monitor their ads across an inventory of 1.35 million digital sites delivering some 60 billion impressions weekly in over 80 countries. The billboards are in a variety of settings and environments such as transit, retail, health & beauty, healthcare, office buildings, residential, entertainment… Combining this impressive reach with sophisticated attribution models, The Neuron provides insights into campaign performance, enabling advertisers to gauge impact and ROI with remarkable precision thanks to robust reporting tools that provide transparency.Thanks to this partnership with The Neuron, Omnicom Media Group will be ideally placed to further elevate the sophistication of digital OOH campaigns through programmatic technology. The platform includes advanced planning tools and targeting features that help planners discover inventory available across both local and international ad markets to reach desired audiences. Its auto-bidding algorithms are designed to optimize DOOH buying for cost efficiency. Fully automating this process programmatically is proven to enhance operational efficiency. With better proof before and after the buy, in terms of data, measurement and attribution, programmatic outdoor aligns OOH advertising with modern client and agency expectations.“With this partnership, we will be able to deliver even better results to our clients from their Out of Home campaigns thanks to better more advanced planning, inventory selection, creative delivery and targeting not to mention more advanced campaign measurement. pDOOH is a huge growth area for outdoor advertising and this partnership allows us to position our agencies at the forefront of emerging channels,” commented Chris Solomi, Chief Digital Officer of Omnicom Media Group MENA. “This is a major contribution to the digital transformation of what was a static medium, as we now have a seamless, user-friendly way to launch dynamic campaigns, making programmatic DOOH a reality for advertisers. With The Neuron, we will have access to local and global audiences, benefit from precision targeting, including with custom audiences and using geo-location, as well as retargeting. The customizable triggers are also a very interesting feature. What’s more, as pDOOH lowers the entry point for advertisers who might be put off by high prices, it will bring new brands into the market, without having to draw from their offline media budgets.”“We are immensely proud and thrilled about our partnership with OMG MENA. This agreement unites two entities that are deeply committed to harnessing the transformative impact of technology in outdoor advertising. Our collaboration with OMG MENA, especially in handling cross-border campaigns, is not just about reaching new heights in planning and execution, but it's a journey towards pioneering efficiency and effectiveness in the digital advertising realm,” explained Hussein Khader, Founder and CEO of The Neuron. “Born and nurtured in Jordan, The Neuron has made significant strides in global markets. Receiving acknowledgment and forming an alliance with a prestigious industry leader like OMG MENA in our home region is not just an honor; it's a testament to our shared vision and commitment to excellence in the ever-evolving world of advertising.”

Marriott Hotel, Al Jaddaf welcomes chef Alaa Moustafa

Marriott Hotel, Al Jaddaf proudly announces the appointment of Alaa Moustafa as its Executive Chef, ushering in a new era of culinary innovation for the renowned establishment.The Marriott Hotels brand, synonymous with epicurean excellence, is set to elevate its culinary footprint at Marriott Hotel, Al Jaddaf under the leadership of Chef Alaa Moustafa. Born and raised in the UAE, Chef Alaa brings a profound understanding of local flavours, setting the stage for a culinary journey that began in 1999.Chef Alaa's distinguished career includes roles at prominent establishments such as Intercontinental Abu Dhabi, Address Downtown, Raffles Dubai and FIVE Palm Jumeirah. His mission at Marriott Al Jaddaf is clear: to redefine the hotel as a must-visit F&B destination in Dubai.Having completed a stage at a Michelin Star restaurant and pastry training, Chef Alaa's expertise extends beyond traditional boundaries. He has successfully launched an impressive total of 13 restaurants throughout his career, each reflecting his dedication to culinary innovation and quality.Expressing his enthusiasm for the role, Chef Alaa said: "I am incredibly excited to help craft some truly unique experiences across the hotel while also focusing on coaching and developing the culinary team, very much in line with the Marriott spirit of putting its people first."Chef Alaa's appointment comes at a pivotal moment for Marriott Hotel, Al Jaddaf, with the brand re-conceptualising several restaurant and other concepts to stay relevant and exciting to guests. In January 2024, the hotel will unveil TerraMar, a Mediterranean rooftop restaurant and pool lounge, breathing new life into the hotel’s pool-side dining experience.Looking ahead, tweaks to the all-day dining restaurant, The Market Place, are on the horizon, including a complete overhaul of its theme nights. The next twelve months promise to be incredibly exciting for both the hospitality team and guests, as Marriott Hotel, Al Jaddaf continues its commitment to providing exceptional dining experiences to its guests.Saad Al Ghamdi, Multi-Property General Manager at Marriott Hotel and Marriott Executive Apartments, Al Jaddaf expresses his excitement about Chef Alaa's appointment, saying: "Chef Alaa joins at an opportune time, and we are confident that his culinary expertise will play a pivotal role in redefining our offerings. The next chapter at Marriott Hotel, Al Jaddaf will be marked by innovation and unparalleled dining experiences."

Middle East startups warned that AI obsession can damage growth prospects

As the rise of artificial intelligence continues, Middle East startups have been warned against placing an exclusive focus on advanced technology, and in the process damaging their prospects for sustainable growth.Rashit Makhat, co-founder of Dubai tech venture company, Scalo Technologies, says founders who rely too heavily on AI risk losing sight of other key business factors such as market research, customer feedback, and operational efficiency.Instead, he believes, they should focus on adopting wider ranging strategies, and also give their businesses a human touch.“AI has huge potential for greater efficiency, innovation, and disruptive impact, but the danger for startups is that an obsession with new tech can lead them astray,” cautions Makhat.“Founders must think critically, adapt to new situations, analyze and solve problems effectively, work their way through complex situations, make tough decisions, and build strategies to achieve goals.“We rarely hear talk of human intelligence in today’s tech-led business world. But the combination of problem-solving skills, emotional intelligence, and adaptability are vitally important to startup development.”Research by PWC shows that AI’s contribution to the Middle East economy is expected to grow annually between 20-34% to reach US$320 billion by 2030.“Everyone is looking for the next revolutionary solution,” says Makhat, who co-founded Scalo Technologies following 15 years of top level experience in telecommunications, mining, information technology, and asset management in banking and real estate.“But successful startups understand that technology is just one piece of the puzzle, and know they must maintain a balance in the way they go about developing their business.”“Who can guarantee which of today’s brilliant ideas will become a long-term success? Relying solely on cutting-edge AI technology can be risky. Unproven algorithms or poorly understood models may damage reputation and business viability.”Makhat adds: “By tailoring services to the unique needs of the region, and by prioritizing customer experience and localization, Middle East startups can navigate the tech landscape more effectively, making sure their growth is stable and sustainable.”

ValueMentor announces creation of new position: CEO-Middle East

ValueMentor, a leading Cyber Security Consulting & Services company, is pleased to announce the establishment of a new executive/CXO position within the organization, the CEO-Middle East (Chief Executive Officer – Middle East). This strategic move reflects our commitment to expanding our presence in the Gulf region and further strengthening our operations in the global marketplace. This position will be critical as we expand our services and solidify our position as a trusted partner in the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape with increasing importance of safeguarding digital assets and protecting privacy.It is with great pleasure that we announce the appointment of Paul Mathew as the first CEO-Middle East of ValueMentor. Paul brings over 22 years of diverse experience across industries and domains (10 years of Industry and 12 years of consulting). His expertise spans across telecommunications, retail, banking, insurance, fintech, life sciences, manufacturing, ports, FMCG, energy & natural resources, and utilities sectors.Paul's impressive achievements include; envisioning & creation of one the world’s largest smart policing project enabling a large city’s police force to be completely automated and ensured ROI within 90 days of implementation. Creating a unique technology solution in Telecom to address an impending business problem of customer churn ensuring a higher win back. He co-founded and led the Data & Analytics practice at a prestigious Big 4 firm, in the Asia-Pacific region. Leveraging Real Time Data & Analytics, Data Lake, Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and cutting-edge visualization techniques, enabled businesses to align with the strategic objectives of influential boards and C-level executives.Paul is a passionate advocate for inclusivity and diversity in technology, collaborating closely with government bodies to empower women and gender self-help groups through innovative tech platforms. His commitment to using technology for social good has made a tangible difference in communities worldwide. Furthermore, Paul's deep interest in Indian sciences has led him to authoring two books, one that interweaves ancient Indian Vedic scriptures with Bias in Artificial Intelligence, shedding light on the profound connections between history, technology, and the future; and another Unveiling the Veil: Exploring Anonymisation and the Anonymous which is in the Context of Privacy.As the CEO – Middle East, Paul Mathew brings a bold vision to ValueMentor to redefine industry standards in customer-centricity, stakeholder value, and fostering a collaborative work culture. By leveraging our existing strengths and driving relentless innovation, Paul aims to position ValueMentor as the undisputed go-to partner for cutting-edge cybersecurity and privacy solutions."I am profoundly honoured and excited to join forces with ValueMentor as CEO – Middle East," said Paul Mathew. "The company's unwavering commitment to cybersecurity and privacy, combined with its exceptional team and client-centric approach, presents a remarkable opportunity to make a lasting impact. I eagerly anticipate working closely with the brilliant minds at ValueMentor as we strive to deliver innovative solutions and protect businesses in an increasingly digital world."Binoy Koonammavu, Founder & Global CEO of ValueMentor, commented while welcoming Paul said “ Paul 's appointment couldn't have come at a more exhilarating time for ValueMentor. With Paul's unwavering expertise and visionary leadership, we are poised to dominate the industry, pushing boundaries and shaping the future of cybersecurity.”Join us in extending a warm welcome to Paul Mathew as he embarks on this transformative journey with ValueMentor.

W Dubai – The Palm appoints Luis Vizcaino as its new hotel manager

W Dubai – The Palm, the idyllic five-star hotel nestled in Palm Jumeirah, announces the appointment of Luis Vizcaino as its new Hotel Manager. With over 13 years of experience in the luxury hospitality industry, Vizcaino comes equipped with a suite of valuable skills from his vast experience in several luxury hotels across the world.Throughout his career, Vizcaino has worked with luxury hotels across several countries in Europe and Asia, leading multi-cultural teams towards each property’s financial targets and developing key leadership and management traits along the way. With nine years of experience in the F&B sector, starting as a Waiter at Aqua and the Michelin-star Es Fum in St. Regis Mardavall in 2008, Vizcaino worked his way up to Hotel Manager at Nay Palad Hideaway, Philippines, in 2017.Since rejoining the Marriot International brand in 2019, Vizcaino has developed an extensive understanding of its diverse brand portfolio. His expertise and commitment have earned him the distinguished role of Lead Trainer for Marriot International’s luxury brands. Vizcaino’s proven track record in navigating complex organization structures and diverse team profiles, coupled with his acumen in implementing strategic plans that drive property goals, makes him an invaluable addition to the team at W Dubai – The Palm.Peter Katusak-Huszvar, General Manager of W Dubai – The Palm, says, “We are thrilled to welcome Luis Vizcaino to our team at W Dubai – The Palm. His remarkable expertise in luxury hospitality, coupled with his unique flair for mixology and F&B concepts and knowledge of various cultures around the world, align seamlessly with our vision. Luis brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective that will undoubtedly enhance our guest experiences. We are confident that his dynamic approach and passion for hospitality will elevate W Dubai – The Palm to new heights of success.”Well-versed in five languages including Catalan, Spanish, and English, German, and Italian, Vizcaino is a natural communicator, effortlessly able to connect with his team and guests and create a welcoming atmosphere for all. His interests lie in mixology, travel, and F&B concepts, which align perfectly with W Dubai – The Palm’s vibrant and dynamic ethos. His deep-rooted interests in these areas make him exceptionally suited to engage with and understand the desires of the hotel’s guests, enhancing their experience with his unique insights and expertise.“Joining W Dubai – The Palm as Hotel Manager is not just a new chapter in my career, but a thrilling opportunity to innovate and enhance the vibrant hospitality experience that this iconic destination is renowned for. My focus will be on maintaining the hotel’s unique identity while introducing fresh ideas to surpass our guests’ expectations and create unforgettable memories.” Comments Vizcaino on his appointment.

Schneider Electric appoints Amel Chadli as the new Gulf Cluster President

Schneider Electric, a leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, has announced the appointment of Amel Chadli as the company’s Gulf Cluster President.In her new role, Chadli will drive innovation and growth in digital transformation, sustainability, and energy management and industrial automation with artificial intelligence technologies across the Gulf region. Formerly, Chadli was the Vice President of Digital Energy and Energy Management Software - Middle East & Africa, leading the company’s smart building, healthcare, and microgrid initiatives, contributing towards energy-efficient customer transformations.“Schneider Electric’s success in the UAE and the Gulf region has always been driven by its commitment towards people development and will always be at the heart of our growth engine. We will continue to invest in top local talents and attract emerging leaders, solidifying Schneider Electric position as the digital partner of choice for sustainability and efficiency,” said Chadli.Chadli also stressed the importance of Partnerships and synergies in the region with stakeholders including customers, partners, public sector, and academia. “As an ‘Impact Company’, Schneider Electric aims to collaborate on initiatives aligning with the collective aspirations for a more sustainable and prosperous future."Reflecting on her accomplishments over 19 years with the company, Chadli highlighted her role in Africa’s energy evolution, ensuring equitable access to safe, reliable, sustainable power. An advocate for the UN Women Empowerment Principles in Africa. Chadli sits on the Executive Committee of RES4Africa, a foundation with a resolute dedication to supporting Africa's energy transition and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7).Following Chadli’s appointment, Ahmed Khashan, former President of Gulf Countries at Schneider Electric, will take on as Senior Vice President Strategy and Business Development for International Operations at Schneider Electric covering the Middle East and Africa, India, South America & Pacific regions.

Etisalat by e& and Cisco sign MoU

etisalat by e& and Cisco, two of the leading giants in the telecommunications and technology sectors, announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on advanced connectivity solutions and services for businesses in the UAE.The MoU outlines the principles by which the companies intend to collaborate on go-to-market activities, serving enterprises and SMB business customers by enhancing engagement, co-developing innovative products, and strengthening managed services capabilities.Masood M. Sharif Mahmood, CEO, etisalat by e& UAE said, "This MoU marks an important step in our vision to create a more connected and sustainable UAE. The agreement is driven by a mutual desire to develop new value propositions and enhance existing solutions. Through our collaboration with Cisco, we endeavor to deliver pioneering connectivity and managed services solutions that enable our clients' digital transformation journeys, and contribute to the success of their business objectives." Reem Asaad, Vice President Middle East and Africa at Cisco said, "Our collaboration with etisalat by e& underscores Cisco's dedication to delivering innovative solutions to businesses in the UAE. Together with etisalat by e&, we aim to enable digital transformation while helping our customers achieve their sustainability objectives. By combining our expertise, we will provide the advanced foundation for businesses to accelerate their journey towards a digitally advanced operations in UAE."This strategic alliance leverages the strengths of both organizations, combining etisalat by e&’s extensive reach and robust infrastructure with Cisco's innovative technology solutions. The collaboration is set to deliver more efficient and effective advanced connectivity solutions, which shall ultimately enhance customer experience while enabling their growth and transformation.In addition, the collaboration will see the companies working together to develop a broad range of consultancy services for various commercial segments, such as business continuity, disaster recovery, tech-refresh framework, and sustainable tech-enabled solutions. Mahmood added: "We firmly believe that advanced connectivity is vital for enduring business success. With such partnerships, we're poised to help our customers reach their business objectives as well as remain committed to sustainability and digital transformation. This will pave the way for operational efficiency, and growth of various companies, along with a positive impact on the UAE economy and society."

Empyre wins three Fairmont Properties in the UAE: Fairmont, Ajman & Fujairah

 Empyre Communications, Dubai’s leading Public Relations and Marketing agency, which oversees a rich portfolio of luxury, hospitality, beauty, fashion, corporate and tech brands, has been appointed as the agency of choice for three Fairmont properties in the UAE; Fairmont Dubai, Fairmont Fujairah and Fairmont Ajman. Empyre Communications will be responsible for managing all PR operations to the brand across the GCC with a focus on the hotel communication, F&B outlets, and amenities.Fairmont Dubai Sheikh Zayed Road stands as an iconic masterpiece in the heart of Dubai, amidst the vibrance of The Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, and the mesmerizing Dubai Fountains. The hotel offers unparalleled convenience to the world's largest shopping center and the tallest man-made structure in the world. Fairmont Ajman is a beachfront 5-star hotel situated in Ajman, just 30 minutes away from the bustling metropolis of Dubai. Combining hospitality and elegance with a deep connection to the natural surroundings, Fairmont Ajman promises exceptional cultural, leisure and dining experiences in a truly spectacular setting. Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort, an idyllic 5-star hotel in the United Arab Emirates. Nestled among the hidden valleys of the majestic Al Hajar Mountains, Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort lies along the coast of Dibba, the second largest town in the emirate of Fujairah.Commenting on the agency's latest project win, Stephanie Farah, Managing Director & Founder of Empyre Communications, said: “This is an incredible milestone for the agency. To be representing three properties under such a prestigious brand is a true testament and reflection of the exceptional work we have delivered over the years across the industry.”

The Brill Collective appoints Tryph Greenwood as Director of Client Services

Bridging the gap between freelance consultants and traditionally structured agencies, disruptor-model marketing and communications agency, The Brill Collective has signed Tryph Greenwood as Director of Client Services.Founded in May 2023 by PR and Communications powerhouse and former Head of PR at M&C Saatchi UAE, Amy Brill, the business taps into the extensive expertise and skillset of individual consultants who want to deliver excellent results, without being tied into a traditional agency work routine and contract.For clients of The Brill Collective, this signifies access to some of the industry's best and brightest minds, expertly paired with them by The Brill Collective’s core team. Meanwhile, consultants can set their own working hours, workflow, and location, while working with clients and colleagues who resonate with their industry or skillset expertise.After a successful start-up period, Tryph has joined to assist Amy and the core team in bolstering the agency as it moves into its next phase of growth. With more than 17 years of communications experience under her belt, including nine years in the UAE, Tryph will be working with a huge roster of talented consultants and a growing client portfolio to ensure excellent results, a healthy new business pipeline, and explore ways in which The Brill Collective can continue to challenge the traditional agency red tape.“Since our inception, we've experienced substantial growth and now boast over 150 consultants in various fields—from planners to publicists, content creators to copywriters, and everything in between—all meticulously vetted to combine best-in-class knowledge, reach, and influence. Our client roster also continues to expand, and the feedback on our model and approach has been incredibly positive. We’re moving with the flourishing freelance market of the UAE and, with Tryph onboard, we’ll be enhancing our growth trajectory whilst ensuring we remain true to our initial vision. I cannot wait for what 2024 holds,” said Amy Brill, Founder of The Brill Collective.“I am hugely excited to join The Brill Collective as the company ethos and mission, along with the client and consultant portfolio, are all things I feel a real affinity for. What Amy and the team have conceptualised and built so far is not only a testament to their expertise and passion but also a clear indication that there is a growing appetite for a shake-up within the marketing and communications industry in the way we attract and retain talent to deliver exceptional client results. The world has changed and, in a day and age where we are hyper-connected, there should be balance and trust; we should have freedom to choose the right working environment, rather than adhering to a more traditional working day, to maximise our output to the benefit of our clients.

Majid Al Futtaim expands in ME, opens 20th lululemon store in Dubai

Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle, one of the leading lifestyle retailers across the GCC, is expanding lululemon's presence in the Middle East by opening two new stores, bringing the total to 20 in the region. The 20th store in Dubai's City Walk features an immersive lululemon studio, the first of its kind in the area. This expansion is part of lululemon's "Power of Three x2" global growth plan, aiming to double business from $6.25 billion in 2021 to $12.5 billion by 2026. The growth strategy emphasizes product innovation, guest experience, and market expansion, with specific goals including doubling men's and direct-to-consumer sales and quadrupling international net revenue relative to 2021.Commenting on the new store opening, Fahed Ghanim, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle, said: “In 2015, Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle embarked on a transformative journey with lululemon, bringing the global athletic apparel leader to the Middle East. Today we proudly announce the opening of our 20th store at City Walk and celebrate the launch of the shop-in-shop in our very own THAT Concept Store, a testament to the brand’s phenomenal success in the region.” “Over the last three years in particular, the brand has achieved impressive double digit growth in the region, owing to its popularity and resonance with the Middle East’s growing fitness culture. This reflects the unwavering commitment of both Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle and lululemon to redefine the local athletic apparel landscape through the brand’s transformative products and unique community-led approach.”The elevated lululemon shop-in-shop space at THAT Concept Store in Mall of the Emirates takes over the ground floor of the two-floor space. The brands embody a perfect synergy, as lululemon’s luxury sportswear collections resonate with THAT’s premium consumers, who seek to blur the lines between performance, fashion, and formal wear apparel. Marking a milestone as the 20th store in the Middle East, the City Walk lululemon location in Dubai spans 599 square metres and offers a unique shopping experience that blends contemporary, creativity, movement, and community. The store also features a lululemon studio, the first-of-its-kind in the region, offering a variety of sweat classes including Yoga, high-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and much more. This engaging studio space is set to inspire and empower customers to elevate their fitness journeys and embrace a holistic approach to wellness. Established in Vancouver in 1998, lululemon has since grown into a global brand, opening 14 net new company-operated stores during the quarter, ending FY23 Q3 with 686 stores globally. lululemon’s impressive growth in the Middle East, in partnership with Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle, highlights the brand’s dedication to delivering innovative products that blend fashion and function, empowering individuals to live an active and healthy lifestyle.

BeIN SPORTS reveals unrivalled plans for AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023

beIN SPORTS, the leading sports broadcaster in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), has revealed its comprehensive coverage plans for this month’s AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™, which kicks off in Doha this Friday and runs until 10 February. beIN will have three brand new AFC Asian Cup channels that will be dedicated to Asia’s most iconic international tournament: beIN ASIAN CUP 1 and beIN ASIAN CUP 2 in Arabic, and beIN ASIAN CUP 3 in English, will broadcast every game live and exclusive with Arabic and English commentary respectively, and the biggest names in Asian Football joining the studio. Additionally, beIN SPORTS NEWS will offer 16-plus hours of live continuous daily coverage.First held in 1956, the Asian Cup is the continent’s most prestigious football event and will feature 24 national teams. The month-long tournament is being held in Qatar – home of the reigning champions – for a record third time and represents the country’s first continental football competition since it hosted the greatest ever FIFA World Cup in late 2022.With its headquarters in Doha, beIN enjoys unique access and an unrivalled presence across Qatar. beIN’s top-class coverage will feature every nation with particular focus on the 10 Arab nations participating: Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE, and hosts Qatar.Daily Arabic language coverage on beIN ASIAN CUP 1 is live and continuous for 14 hours a day. Kicking off at 11:00 MECCA the daily morning show ‘Sport Morning’ will cover all the latest stories and activities taking place in the host nation, Qatar, followed by the ‘Countdown’ show, which is hosted from inside the stadium for the first match of each day.Group stage matches kick off at 14:30, 17:30, and 20:30 MECCA, with every match broadcast live and exclusive on beIN’s dedicated AFC Asian Cup channels with bigger and better studio coverage than ever before.Each evening, the last match studio will be immediately followed by ‘Sport Evening’, the nightly evening show at 23:30 MECCA. AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ is taking place at the same time as the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Côte d'Ivoire 2023™ and ‘Sport Evening’ is the evening studio that brings all the latest stories from host nations Qatar and the Ivory Coast.In addition to live coverage of the tournament, beIN will broadcast over 41-plus hours of archive programming including previous finals, mini-matches and best goal compilations.Led by more than 30 leading regional and international commentators, analysts, and presenters, as well as 17 on-the-ground reporters, coverage will include team training sessions and base camps, pre- and post-match press conferences, breaking news, and fan reaction. beIN, recipient of multiple global awards for its comprehensive coverage of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM, has raised the bar when it comes to broadcasting major sporting events and the Asian Cup is set to enjoy the same beIN experience.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in 2023: A remarkable year for the Middle East and Africa

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars experienced a highly successful year in 2023, witnessing strong sales and demand across the Middle East & Africa Region, achieving a year-on-year growth of 35%.“2023 marks a remarkable chapter in the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars journey across the Middle East and Africa. Regional year-on-year growth of 35% demonstrates the region’s growing importance as a centre of luxury appreciation, underlined by the exceptional demand for Rolls-Royce Bespoke, which in 2023 reached new record levels. This extraordinary achievement is thanks to the unwavering passion, dedication, and continual commitment demonstrated by our esteemed dealer partners and their teams throughout the region; their commitment has been instrumental in our outstanding success. Our gratitude extends to our clients, whose trust in the brand has been pivotal to this success. The Middle East's growth has been fueled by unparalleled performances across our entire model range, with an outstanding demand for Spectre, our groundbreaking all-electric super coupé. The Spectre's substantial order book, extending into 2025, attests to its popularity attracting new and younger clients to the brand.Celebrating yet another source of pride, our Bespoke commissions have soared to new heights. While our region has always served as an inspirational canvas for Bespoke creations, this year, in collaboration with the Private Office Dubai, we continue to be the leaders in Bespoke commissions. Serving as a sanctuary for creativity and design, the Private Office Dubai has not only brought our clients' imaginations to life but has also played a pivotal role in immersing them in the enchanting world of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars; continuing to forge extraordinary relationships.As we step into 2024, anticipation builds for an even more remarkable year. We eagerly look forward to our clients passionately crafting unparalleled motor cars, while our dealer partners continue to invest in elevating the brand experience to new heights.”César Habib, Regional Director, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Middle East & Africa

Dubai's UBQT app makes real-life reunions a swipe away

 Jonathan Hasson and Lara Varjabedian, serial entrepreneurs and dynamic co-Founders of Dubai based UBQT, introduce their groundbreaking social media platform that helps people truly reconnect and brings back the “social” aspect in social media! The story on how Jonathan and Lara reconnected is actually behind the creation of this app.The story behind the appBeing global citizens and despite having connected multiple times in the past three decades, Jonathan and Lara had lost track of their respective whereabouts. It was only coincidentally, through a mutual friend overseas, that they fortunately found out that they were both residing (again) in the same city - Dubai. Thus, they realised how they had lost touch with a lot of their contacts; from former colleagues, classmates, professional acquaintances to friends, and how they might be missing out on the opportunity to catch-up with them.How it is different from other appsBusy schedules between work and family make it challenging to book a dedicated time with people. UBQT is changing that as it allows to go straight to the point of setting a time in the calendar with a contact by blocking an exact date and location, months in advance or on the spur of the moment, without having to be bombarded by endless social media content or conversations. Thanks to location-based features, UBQT is helping its growing tribe, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and globally, to catch-up IRL (in real life) when they are near each other or travelling to the same city, thus helping them re-connect on a professional or personal level.“We are very proud to officially announce the availability of our platform made in the UAE, which has a very simple goal: to help people spend less time in the digital world and instead use that precious time to catch-up in the physical world. We are incredibly connected digitally, yet so disconnected humanly. Lara and I sat down to think about how to truly bring back value to human connections and optimize everyone’s time by helping to organize catch-ups with people we have lost contact with or are unaware that they might be passing around the same location at the same time; UBQT was born” explains Jonathan Hasson, co-Founder and CEO of UBQT.Unique features for less screen time and more lifetimePeople are very busy with less time for social interactions, and current social media encourage virtual connections rather than in-person. UBQT is the solution to help build new memories and overcome loneliness too. The idea is very simple: to help people reconnect with contacts of their choice.It is a platform focused on quality where any user can define the scope of the private network and whom to connect with.There are no options for direct messages or sharing content, the main goal is to be up-to-date with people’s travelling schedule and availability, and each user is free to share a status or not.Having a status, telling connections that there is a trip planned to a specific country or city at a specific date and that coffee, lunch or dinner might be options, is easy and allows for contacts to directly send a calendar invite and book a catch-up. It’s unique and time-efficient.Unlike others, the app purposely limits all other possibilities so that people do not get this feeling of being overwhelmed by too many requests.UBQT is the digital cleansing people need without losing connections with those who matter.

Beyond the stars: Middle East's space industry emerges as a new global titan

From a passive consumer of space technology, the Middle East is morphing into a major producer, reveals Euroconsult, a leading space sector consultancy, in its new white paper, "Beyond the Stars: The Middle East's Space Ecosystem on the Move." The report reveals a stunning vision of the future. It predicts a meteoric rise for the region's space industry, projected to soar to a staggering $75 billion by 2032, dwarfing its current size and reshaping the global space landscape.Fueling this growth is a potent mix of economic ambitions, strategic foresight, and technological innovation. As Steve Bochinger, lead contributor to the white paper, puts it, "The Middle East's ascent is unprecedented, propelled by a trifecta of diversification, vision, and cutting-edge tech."This momentum is already evident. The global space economy, already a behemoth at $509 billion in 2023, is expected to reach $759 billion by 2030, and the Middle East is poised to contribute significantly to this surge. "Our research paints a picture of a region on the cusp of explosive growth, ready to rewrite the global space narrative," adds Bochinger.Localization of space technologies is a top priority, driving ambitions across diverse sectors. Economic diversification, national defense, and even soft power through space exploration projects are all areas where space capabilities are seen as playing a crucial role.Pacôme Revillon, CEO of Euroconsult, highlights the importance of collaboration in powering this transformation: "Partnerships between nations, public entities, and private players are not just catalysts for growth; they hold the key to securing the Middle East's position as a global space leader.""Beyond the Stars" dives deeper into this exciting story, exploring the specific market segments driving growth, the investment landscape, the talent pool, and the potential challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. It paints a compelling picture of a region not just catching up in the space race, but poised to lead the charge into a new era of space exploration and utilization.Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Samsung to exhibit more C-Lab startups than ever before at CES 2024

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. today announced it will be showcasing new innovative projects developed from its C-Lab program at CES® 2024, which runs from January 9 through 12. During the showcase, Samsung will highlight 15 startups and projects — the highest number the company has ever featured — at Eureka Park at the Venetian Expo in Las Vegas, the main exhibition space for startups at the world’s biggest tech show.This year's CES is expected to feature more than 1,000 startups and attract more than 130,000 visitors from around the world, including business executives, investors and media. At the event, Samsung expects startups from C-Lab to assess global market responses, strengthen their business feasibility and meet with investors.“The goal of the C-Lab program is to elevate a platform for startups to grow and flourish,” said Pilgyu Jeon, Executive Vice President and Head of the Creativity & Innovation Center at Samsung Electronics. “CES is the perfect venue for these exciting companies and projects to show major tech players that they belong on the global stage.”The C-Lab program was created in 2012 and since it was established, Samsung has nurtured a total of 872 startups and projects. This includes 475 through C-Lab Outside and 397 through C-Lab Inside. In particular, the 537 C-Lab startups (62 from C-Lab Spin-off and 475 from C-Lab Outside) have raised a cumulative total of $1 billion in investment.C-Lab Outside: Ten Startups That Include AI, Energy and Healthcare ProductsC-Lab Outside was created in October 2018, and startups selected for the program receive full support — including office workspaces, customized development programs and investment — along with business cooperation from Samsung Electronics. Dr.Tail, an online veterinary consultation service, has collaborated with Samsung Electronics to bring its services to Samsung Smart TVs and will be exhibited at the C-Lab booths at CES.In addition to Dr.Tail, Samsung Electronics will exhibit nine other startups selected and supported by the C-Lab Outside program:RebuilderAI: AI solutions for fast and easy 3D content creation on smartphonesGhost Pass: decentralized remote biometric authentication solutionsDEEPX: an NPU-based AI semiconductorStyle Bot: a fashion recommendation service based on user-owned clothing dataVsion: a smart window with adjustable transparencyDolbomDream: a smart, inflatable jacket designed to monitor the health of senior citizens60Hertz: an AI-powered virtual power plant (VPP) solutionWrtn Technologies: a generative AI portal serviceNdotLight: a web-based collaborative 3D design platform"We are excited to be part of C-Lab’s high-profile startup booth at Eureka Park," said Sunkwan Lee, CEO of Ghost Pass. “Thanks to the support of Samsung C-Lab, we won the CES Innovation Award this year, which I think makes this year’s CES a good opportunity for us to take a step toward going global."Two C-Lab Inside Projects From Samsung Employees and Three C-Lab Spin-off Startups That Started at SamsungSamsung has been exhibiting its C-Lab Inside projects at CES since 2016, and this year’s CES exhibit will feature two projects that are currently being fostered in-house. These projects are from the healthcare and pet-tech sectors and have been highly regarded for their innovation, marketability, and completeness:ID.EARS: a healthcare platform that analyzes brain waves captured by earbudsDumboCam: a pet training platform that utilizes Vision AIIn 2016, Samsung Electronics introduced its C-Lab spin-off program, which allows C-Lab Inside projects with high market potential to be launched as fully-fledged startups. At CES 2024, three C-Lab spin-off startups — which initially started as C-Lab Inside projects — will showcase their innovative products in C-Lab booths:Yellosis: smart toilets and AI healthcare solutions based on measurement of liquid body wasteBecon: AI-powered hair loss management solutionsGoose Labs: metaverse home workout app with real-time motion-sensing avatarsC-Lab Startups Win 23 CES 2024 Innovation AwardsIn November 2023, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) announced the winners of the CES 2024 Innovation Awards, including the award for Best of Innovation. Projects from the C-Lab program received one Best of Innovation Award and 22 Innovation Award Honorees.Samsung is sharing its knowledge of winning CES Innovation Awards and entering the global market with the C-Lab startups, which has allowed them to find success. At CES 2024, 16 C-Lab Outside startups were named as Innovation Award Honorees. As for C-Lab Spin-off startups, one project received a Best of Innovation Award and four were named Innovation Award Honorees.Specifically, STUDIO LAB — a startup spun off in 2021 — won the CES Innovation Award. The company’s products include Seller Canvas, an AI-based commerce detail page automation service, and Photo-bot, an automated commerce photography robot that combines AI and robotics.Yellosis and DEEPX — two of the startups being exhibited at the C-Lab booths — each received Innovation Awards in three categories. Yellosis is a digital health startup spun off in 2020 that developed Cym702 Seat, a smart toilet that automatically measures liquid body waste and provides health management solutions. The company also developed Cym702 Circle, a smart toilet that simply measures glucose in liquid body waste in public restrooms. Yellosis won CES Innovation Awards in three categories, including Digital Health,Smart Cities and Product in support of human security .DEEPX was founded in 2018 and develops edge AI chips for computational processing of AI algorithms such as deep learning-based object recognition, face/voice recognition, image classification and image quality improvement. DEEPX is the first AI semiconductor company to win CES Innovation Awards in three categories, including Embedded technology, Robotics and Computer hardware & components.

Fans to embrace fourth staging of Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is once again showcasing the best of Spanish football to local and international fans this week by staging the Spanish Super Cup for a fourth time.The 40th edition of the historic Supercopa de España (Spanish Super Cup), to be held from January 10-14, marks the latest high-profile sporting event to take place on Saudi shores – in what will be the biggest year of international sport for the country.This year’s highly anticipated tournament features iconic Spanish clubs including defending champions Barcelona, plus Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and CA Osasuna. All three matches will take place in Riyadh at Al Awwal Park Stadium, the 25,000-capacity stadium and home of Al Nassr FC.Saudi Arabia is welcoming world-class players, iconic clubs, and international fans as part of its long-term partnership with the Royal Spanish Football Federation. The previous three editions in Saudi Arabia saw tens of thousands of fans in attendance with matches broadcasted all around the world. Like always, the Spanish Super Cup is being contested by the winners and runners-up of the Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup) and La Liga.A Madrid derby will grace the first semi-final (January 10) when the world-renowned Real Madrid, the Copa del Rey winners, face inter-city rivals Atletico Madrid, who finished third in last season’s La Liga. In the second semi-final (January 11), reigning La Liga champions Barcelona begin their bid to retain the Spanish Super Cup crown against CA Osasuna, the Copa del Rey runners-up.The final takes place on Sunday January 14, with all matches kicking off at 10pm local time.With an exciting tournament in store for fans, this year’s Spanish Super Cup is the latest illustration of the Kingdom’s commitment to host the very best international events across all sports, with football at the forefront.80% of Saudi Arabians either play, attend, or follow football and many support international, including Spanish, clubs. The passion of Saudi people and the young population is the driving force behind the Kingdom bringing such prestigious tournaments.While enabling the Kingdom to build relationships and showcase the unique football culture to the world, hosting events like these provides new opportunities for the Saudi people to be inspired, pursue dreams, and realise potential.The Spanish Super Cup kick-starts an incredible year-round schedule of international sports in the Kingdom, with football, motorsport, tennis, esports, combat sports, golf, and equestrian events all locked in for 2024.

Ambrane aims for 100 crore revenue in international markets

 Ambrane, a leading Indian consumer electronics and smart wearable brand marks a significant milestone by venturing into the global market, aiming to serve the UAE, Europe, USA, and East Asian regions. The brand unveils an array of top-tier products, including power banks, chargers, cables, and cutting-edge smart gadgets like smartwatches, poised to introduce the renowned quality and innovation associated with Ambrane to an international audience.With the vision of achieving an overall revenue of 500 crores by FY25-26, Ambrane sets a target of reaching 100 crore exclusively from international markets this fiscal year. The diverse portfolio of products will be readily accessible on Amazon across Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Additionally, strategic partnerships with global giants such as eBay, Walmart, Noon, Qo10, Shopee, Coupang, and BliBli ensure the availability of Ambrane's offerings in the USA, UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, and Indonesia. This comprehensive global presence marks Ambrane's commitment to providing innovative tech solutions worldwide.Ambrane has sold over 40+ million product sales within the Indian market, holding the top position in Power Banks and ranking among the leading wearable brands. Along with the leading e-commerce players in India, Ambrane, with its robust channel network of 10000+ dealers, has a strong footprint across India. Renowned in India for its pioneering charging solutions and technological advancements in wearables, Ambrane is dedicated to showcasing India's cutting-edge technology solutions worldwide. Mr. Ashok Rajpal, the Managing Director of Ambrane, said, "Our journey has been fuelled by continuous investment in research and development and an unwavering dedication to quality. As we step into international territories, we aim to showcase the excellence of the skilled Indian workforce globally. Being a single retail store seller and selling our product globally signifies a remarkable journey for our brand. And we are very optimistic about Ambrane’s success in the global market.”In a significant milestone, Ambrane has successfully transitioned from a 30 sq ft facility to a spacious 84 sq ft space, reflecting the commitment to expansion and growth. Notably, the manufacturing capabilities have soared, with the production of an impressive one million cables, five lakh chargers, and four lakh power banks per month. With a dedicated team of over 500+ employees, Ambrane is making strides towards enhancing the manufacturing presence in India, with an ambitious goal of achieving 100% local production. As they continue to evolve, the sights are set on capturing a substantial 20% market share by the year 2027. The scale of the success is evident in the sale of over 50 million products, a testament to the unwavering dedication to quality and innovation. This remarkable journey positions us as a formidable player in the industry, poised for even greater achievements in the future.

Saudi tech startup Nawel secured $1mln in pre-seed funding round led by NOMD

Nawel, a cutting-edge Saudi tech startup specializing in revolutionizing logistics and supply chain solutions, announced today that it has successfully raised $1 million in a pre-seed funding round. The round was led by NOMD Holding, a prominent investment firm known for its support of innovative startups in the technology sector. Nawel has rapidly emerged as a frontrunner in optimizing supply chain operations through its innovative approach of repurposing underutilized spaces within warehouses and retail establishments. The startup's proprietary technology, coupled with its strategic location-based solutions, addresses the increasing demand for efficient and customer-centric logistics services."This pre-seed funding round marks a significant milestone for Nawel, and we're excited to have NOMD Holding as a strategic partner on our journey," said Mohammad Balsharaf, Co-Founder and CEO of Nawel."The support from NOMD Holding validates our mission to redefine how businesses approach storage, fulfillment, and delivery, ultimately enhancing customer experiences across the board." Nawel's unique offering includes the establishment of delivery hubs that serve as sorting centers for bulk parcels, allowing for faster and more cost-effective last-mile delivery. The startup's micro-fulfillment solutions further empower the "quick commerce" sector by enabling rapid fulfillment of fast-moving and promotional items, unlocking new avenues for growth for ecommerce businesses."We're thrilled to lead this pre-seed funding round for Nawel," stated Mohammad Al khushil, Chairman at NOMD Holding."Their innovative approach to optimizing logistics aligns perfectly with our investment strategy, and we believe Nawel has the potential to make a significant impact on the future of supply chain management in the region." With this injection of capital, Nawel aims to accelerate the expansion of its network and enhance its technological infrastructure. The funds raised will also be utilized to further develop Nawel's unified warehouse management system, enabling businesses to streamline their operations and provide exceptional customer experiences.

Saudi Arabia is the top country in MENA for venture capital investment in 2023

Saudi Arabia achieves first rank across MENA for the first time in terms of the amount of Venture Capital (VC) funding in 2023, according to MAGNiTT, the MENA-based venture data platform. This historic achievement reflects the development the Kingdom is witnessing in various economic and financial sectors in light of the Saudi Vision 2030 and its goals to strengthen the national economy.The Kingdom captured the highest share of total VC funding in the MENA region in 2023, accounting for 52% of the total capital deployed in the region, up from 31% in 2022. The funding deployed into Saudi Arabian startups grew by 33% in 2023 versus 2022. This confirms the attractiveness of the Saudi market, enhances its competitive environment, and consolidates the strength of the Kingdom’s economy as the largest economy in MENA, and its leading position globally as a G20 country, and a member of the “BRICS” group, which represents one of the strongest economic blocs in the world.Dr. Nabeel Koshak, CEO and Board Member at SVC, commented: “The Kingdom’s leading position in the VC scene in the region comes as a result of the many governmental initiatives launched to stimulate the VC and startups ecosystem within the Saudi Vision 2030 programs, and the development of the legislative and regulatory environment for the ecosystem, in addition to the emergence of active investors from the private sector as well as innovative entrepreneurs”.He further added: “We are proud that SVC’s strategy contributed to the development of the VC ecosystem in the Kingdom, as it was ranked fourth in the region in terms of the amount of VC funding in 2018, to be the top country in the region in 2023. The funding deployed into Saudi Arabian startups grew 21 times in 2023 versus 2018, the year SVC was launched. We at SVC are committed to continuing to lead the development of the VC ecosystem in Saudi Arabia through stimulating private investors to provide support in turn for startups and SMEs to be capable of fast and high growth, leading to diversifying the national economy and achieving the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030”.SVC is an investment company established in 2018. It is a subsidiary of the SME Bank, one of the development banks affiliated with the National Development Fund. SVC aims to stimulate and sustain financing for startups and SMEs from pre-Seed to pre-IPO through investment in funds and co-investment in startups and SMEs.

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

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

GroupM Forms ad innovation accelerator to power advertising experience

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

Nafisa Shams Academy concludes the Costumes in Cinematic Production

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

TA Telecom unveils AI-driven AnteThink

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

Brands for Less Store now open at the Mall of Qatar

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

Stellantis appoints Slaven Klarin-Smiljanic as GMD

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

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

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

HOP up FitConnector’s mission to revolutionize fitness access

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

Saudi healthtech startup Clinicy secures major ‘Series A’ funding

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

Paymob and Tamara partner to power GCC SMEs

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

Dubai Investments Park opens registrations for the DIP Cycling Challenge 2024

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

Microsoft adds new AI key to Windows keyboard

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

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

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

Dubai SME partners with AI-based fintech platform CXDA

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

GameCentric showcases its gaming prowess at MOTB 2023

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

Hyundai charts sustainable growth through 'Consistent Change'

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

TCL to showcase leading technology portfolio & solutions at CES 2024

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

Football fever returns to Qatar with the AFC Asian Cup

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

Baims Education Platform acquires Egyptian Orcas Edtech

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

The cookie crumbles on Chrome, officially!

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

ATL Media broadens its sales team with four new Sales Heads

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

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

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

Viewers open to ads on streaming platforms: Hub study

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

Jeremy Helfand takes the helm at Amazon Prime Video advertising

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

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

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

Century Financial appoints Ulas Akincilar as Chief Product Officer

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

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

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

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

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

TikTok, Peloton join hands to launch #TikTokfitness Peloton hub

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