Dubai Esports Festival 2022 kicks off at Expo City Dubai

The inaugural Dubai Esports Festival (DEF 2022) was inaugurated today by Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, at Expo City Dubai.The 12-day event, held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Media Council, is being hosted by Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) in partnership with VSPN, a global leader in e-sports activities and solutions, and presenting partner du.The opening ceremony was attended by Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Director-General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA); Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME; Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE); Chenfan Wang, Vice President, General Manager of Global Business at VSPN; and Ibrahim Al Mayahi Al Nuaimi, Vice President of Brand and Marketing Communications at du.Commenting on the launch, Al Olama said, “The UAE had consolidated its status as a leading global destination for new concepts and a champion of innovation, as it continues to attract international talent to analyse technology trends and opportunities to accelerate change to design a better future.”Al Olama noted that DEF 2022 would see the highest number of leading adult gamers convening in one place this year, underscoring the UAE and Dubai’s status as the most competitive gaming destination. “The event will bring together the world’s greatest gamers, developers, creatives and artists, allowing Esports fans to meet and engage with global gaming celebrities and industry leaders, reinforcing the UAE’s position as a hub for innovation,” he added.The Festival kicked off with the oversubscribed “Initiate Summit”, a two-day groundbreaking B2B knowledge and networking platform for e-sports and gaming industry professionals, developers and creatives.The Initiate Summit highlights Dubai’s role in championing the creative industry, including esports, through various incentives for international talent and organisations in the emirate. In addition, industry trends will be discussed, including emerging technologies, mobile gaming, investment opportunities, consumer behaviour, gamification and tournament organisation, among other current topics. Gaming developers and publishers, esports organisation founders, solution providers, as well as marketers and members of the gaming media, will make up the Initiate Summit’s impressive line-up of speakers.The Festival will bring together international gaming celebrities, industry leaders, developers, creatives and artists and feature an exciting line-up of live events and activations, concerts and competitions, including the highly anticipated PUBG Global Championship 2022, GameExpo, PopConME, Initiate Summit, Wegz live in concert, regional tournaments and Minecraft Esports Schools Clash, as well as retail promotions taking place across the city showcasing the latest games and merchandise.

Emirates and Gulf Air launch Codeshare Partnership

 Emirates and Gulf Air have today officially signed a unilateral codeshare partnership, starting this December*. The new agreement will offer easy connections and expanded choices for Gulf Air customers connecting to Dubai and onwards to a host of Emirates destinations across Europe, Africa, South America and the Far East. The agreement was signed on the first day of the Bahrain Airshow, signalling a growing relationship between both airlines following on the framework of cooperation established last year. The agreement was signed by Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline and Gulf Air’s Chief Executive Officer Captain Waleed Al Alawi in the presence of H.E. Mr. Zayed R. Alzayani, Gulf Air’s Chairman of the Board of Directors. The signing ceremony was also attended by members of each airline’s executive management teams.The expanded partnership will see Gulf Air place their marketing code “GF” on Emirates operated flights beyond Dubai to a selection of some of the most attractive global tourism hotspots, offering new holiday options for Gulf Air customers. Travellers will be able to connect to points including Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Algeria, Tunis, Bali, Hanoi, HoChi Minh City, Taipei and Sao Paulo. The new codeshare agreement’s mix of unique points comes as travellers from the GCC have become more well-informed, value-driven and savvy, increasingly looking for new, diverse experiences and attractions beyond their traditional holiday destinations. The new partnership will also offer customers the convenience of combined ticketing and check-in, a unified policy and seamless transfers for baggage, and competitive single fares on a multi-airline journey when connecting on Emirates. Customers can book their travel on Gulf Air’s website, through Gulf Air point of sales and online travel agencies as well as with local travel agents. Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: “We are pleased to partner with Gulf Air to offer their customers greater access and strong connection opportunities to unique destinations on our network, complemented by Emirates’ signature in-flight service and hospitality throughout their journey from Dubai. We look forward to working together and achieving more with Gulf Air in the near future, and further strengthening our relationship." Captain Waleed Al Alawi, Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer commented: “Our relationship with Emirates Airline has always been strong and today we are reaching a higher level of collaboration with many more opportunities in the horizon between the two carriers. This partnership will empower both of us to offer a more elevated experience to passengers and widen their travel options.”Emirates currently has codeshare cooperation agreements in place with 26 airline partners and two rail companies around the world, expanding its network reach to over 300 cities.

Seef Properties reports BD 5.20mln net profit

Seef Properties B.S.C. (Bahrain Bourse Trading Code: SEEF) announced its financial results for the third quarter ended 30 September 2022. The Company reported a net profit and comprehensive income attributable to the parent of BD 2.18 million during the third quarter of 2022, compared to BD 1.24 million for the same quarter of last year, with an increase of 75.62%. The increase is attributable to the increase in revenue in both the hospitality and the entertainment segments due to return to near-normal operational levels induced by relaxation of travel and other pandemic restrictions, in addition to the opening of “Yabeela”, the new family entertainment centre in Al Liwan operated by the Company’s entertainment arm.Diluted earnings per share attributable to the parent for the third quarter of 2022 amounted to 4.74 fils, compared to 2.70 fils for the same quarter of the previous year. The Company’s operating profit stood at BD 3.08 million during the third quarter of 2022, compared to BD 2.03 million for the same quarter of last year, with an increase of 51.67%. Revenues increased in the third quarter of 2022 by 55.77% to reach BD 4.13 million, compared to BD 2.65 million for the corresponding quarter of last year.The Company reported a net profit and comprehensive income attributable to the parent of BD 5.20 million for the period ended 30 September 2022, compared to BD 3.54 million for the same period of last year, with an increase of 46.85%. The increase is attributable to the reasons cited above.Diluted earnings per share attributable to the parent for the period ended 30 September 2022 amounted to 11.31 fils, compared to 7.70 fils for the same period of the previous year. The Company’s operating profit stood at BD 9.27 million during the period ended 30 September 2022, compared to BD 7.35 million for the same period of last year, with an increase of 26.19%. Revenues increased in the period ended 30 September 2022 by 31.08% to reach BD 11.67 million, compared to BD 8.91 million for the corresponding period of last year.The Company’s total equity (after excluding the equity attributable to minority) for the period ended 30 September 2022 increased by 1.58% to reach BD 157.33 million, compared to BD 154.88 million for the financial year ended 31 December 2021. The total assets for the period ended 30 September 2022 increased by 1.27% to reach BD 182.16 million, compared to BD 179.87 million for the financial year ended 31 December 2021.Commenting on the occasion, Mr. Essa Mohamed Najibi, Chairman of the Company’s Board of Directors, stated: “We are delighted to announce positive financial results for the third quarter of 2022, which are in line with the Company’s strong financial and operational performance during the first nine (9) months of this year. These results are a continued testament to the Company’s flexible business model and the diversification of its investment portfolio and activities in the shopping, entertainment and hospitality sectors, placing it firmly on the right path towards achieving its strategic objectives of sustainable growth and prosperity, and further bolstering its income diversification to better serve the interests of its shareholders and partners in success.”He further added, “The Company continues to make progress towards achieving the expectations and aspirations of its shareholders and customers alike vie accomplishing exceptional financial and operational results and maintaining a healthy and sustainable growth in profitability, revenues and liquidity. The Company will continue to deliver everything that is new and unique in the world of shopping, shopping centre management, hospitality and entertainment in a manner consistent with the needs of shoppers, with the ultimate aim of further consolidating the Company’s leading position and positively impacting its financial statements and operations.”On his part, the Company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ahmed Yusuf, said, “The Company is steadily fortifying its leading position in the hospitality, retail and mall management sectors. With the improvement of its operational performance in the first nine (9) months of this year, the Company is proud to attract more prestigious brands in all shopping centres within its portfolio.”Expanding further, Mr. Yusuf explained, “The Company is better prepared than ever to record stronger financial results due to the diversity of its portfolio, its leadership in the shopping centre management sector and its accumulated expertise in the fields of retail, entertainment and hospitality, which serve to reinforce the position of Seef Malls as exceptional shopping centres in the Kingdom. The Company is confidently moving towards achieving better results in the last quarter of the year relying primarily on innovative management of its projects to attract larger numbers of visitors and new partnership opportunities.”Mr. Yusuf further confirmed that the accelerated rate of economic recovery currently witnessed by the Kingdom of Bahrain is contributing to the promotion of economic growth and further widening the opportunities for commercial and tourism sector recovery, which is apparent in the improvement of the hospitality and entertainment sector performance as they record higher occupancy rates commensurate with the increase in visitors from outside the Kingdom of Bahrain, particularly from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

ADSS names Holly Joint as Global Chief Operating Officer

ADSS, the Abu Dhabi and London-based financial services firm, has announced that Holly Joint will join the firm as its Global Chief Operating Officer to support the firm through its ambitious growth strategy, leveraging her expertise in digital transformation amid the introduction of hyper-personalised products and services.Targeting the expansion of its institutional and retail client base in the UK, Europe and the Middle East, ADSS’ growth strategy will see the firm deploy cutting-edge technology to provide industry-leading services and products to its clients. In her new role, Holly will be responsible for spearheading the development and execution of this strategy, enhancing operational efficiencies to allow the firm to better service its client base.Holly brings over 20 years of executive management experience, with a career focused on developing and executing business and digital transformation strategies that deliver sustainable growth. Prior to joining ADSS, Holly led digital transformation at a group level for Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), enacting the digital strategy to enhance the customer experience and strengthen operational performance and governance. Before her role at ADCB, Holly was Chief Transformation Officer for Farah Experiences, a subsidiary of Miral Asset Management. She also brings an entrepreneurial mindset through her experience with start-ups, working in Accenture’s eCommerce Innovation Centre earlier in her career, alongside launching and running a business with British entrepreneur Peter Jones.On the new appointment, Mahmood Al Mahmood, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ADSS, said: “Rapidly deploying cutting-edge technology will be essential as ADSS becomes an industry-leading brokerage that delivers best-in-class client services and products. Holly’s remarkable experience in leading businesses through digital transformation will help us progress at an accelerated pace, allowing us to fully capitalise on the opportunities in front of us.”Discussing her priorities in her new role, Holly Joint, COO of ADSS, said: “Through employing next generation technologies both to enhance our internal operations and to reimagine our products and services for clients, there is a significant opportunity for ADSS to substantially ramp-up its wider growth strategy. It is certainly an exciting time to be joining ADSS and I’m looking forward to working with the high-calibre team in this next phase of ADSS’ journey.”With Holly’s appointment, women now represent 36% of ADSS’ executive management team, significantly surpassing the global industry average of 24%, according to Deloitte. In line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and various initiatives led by the UAE’s leadership, ADSS has prioritised levelling the playing field for women in financial services, fostering an inclusive and diverse workplace across its London and Abu Dhabi offices.

BPG strengthens integrated offering with senior leadership appointments

Award-winning, ‘integrated by design’ agency in the MENA region – BPG (part of the WPP Network) has announced senior-level appointments to drive the agency’s renewed focus on customer experience, in addition to hires across PR, media, UX, content and creative.Research by Gartner has revealed that experience-led businesses have 1.6x higher brand awareness and 1.7x higher customer retention. BPG is working at the inflection point of data, customer, creative, communications and brand to deliver real outcomes for customers, with value and growth for clients. Strong customer experiences can generate positive business impact in 2022 and beyond.Darius LaBelle joins BPG as EVP/Chief Client Officer to lead the agency’s CX, digital, creative, and strategy products. Darius has two decades of experience in strategy, brand, business growth and CX across consumer, healthcare and B2B brands in Asia, the Middle East, the US and Australia. He has worked with agencies such as BBDO, Ogilvy, Havas and Sapient and for brands like Emirates, Aldar, AbbVie, Sanofi, 3M, ANZ. Before joining BPG as Chief Client Officer Darius was based in New York, where he helped launch Havas Health CX, a data-led experience agency.Ramy El Sakka joins BPG as SVP/Chief Creative Officer. Ramy started his career with J Walter Thompson Cairo, working on brands such as Nokia, Nestle, Lipton, HSBC and Cadbury Adams, and winning pitches for Vodafone and Egyptian Tourism. Ramy has worked with Leo Burnett Cairo, DDB Dubai and BBDO UAE, to lead brands such as Orange, PepsiCo, Henkel, Glad, Etisalat and Lipton Ice Tea. He played a major role in charting DDB’s success and has won numerous awards for the agency. A project he is proud of is “Lucky or Not” for Etisalat which was awarded best film of the year by Vimeo and exceeded set KPIs.Avi Bhojani, Group CEO, BPG said: “BPG is an Integrated by Design’ agency where creative, communications, media, data, CX and content converge under one roof. This gives brands the freedom and ability to plan and execute their marketing with the customer truly at the centre. We are increasingly seeing that customers expect more from every interaction they have with brands across multiple touchpoints. I’m confident that Darius and Ramy will leverage their CX and creative expertise and BPG’s 40-year market insights in the region to deliver exciting outcomes for brands and clients both from the government & private sectors.”

Sultanate of Oman to host World travel awards grand final gala ceremony 2022

 Oman will be hosting the 29th World Travel Awards Grand Final Gala Ceremony on Friday, 11th November, at the Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, under the patronage of His Excellency Salim bin Mohammed Al Mahrouqi, Minister of Heritage and Tourism.This significant step comes as part of the efforts to promote and position Oman as one of the top tourist destinations in the region, in addition to being one of the important players in the tourism sector at the regional and global level.It is noteworthy that the Sultanate of Oman, represented by Oman Airports, hosted this prestigious award ceremony for the first time in 2019. The ceremony witnessed great success in terms of participation and the local and international media coverage that accompanied it.A total of 16 major awards were also awarded to Oman, 3 for Oman Airports and 4 for Oman Air, while a number of other awards were presented to hotels and travel and tourism agencies in the Sultanate.It is likely that the 29th edition of the World Travel Awards will witness strong competition this year, following the recovery of the travel and tourism sector in 2022 compared to the previous two years, which witnessed a significant decline due to the pandemic.Established in 1993 in England, the World Travel Awards celebrates its 29th anniversary this year. Its annual programme is renowned as the most prestigious and comprehensive in the global tourism industry. Travel and tourism-related companies and hotels the world over are always keen to participate for a chance to win one of their illustrious awards. Doing so is an achievement that provides them with the ideal marketing tool to promote their winning products and services.

Metaverse presents a multi-billion dollar opportunity for Middle East telcos

Arthur D. Little (ADL) has published “The Metaverse: What’s In It For Telcos?” exploring how telcos can capture value by leveraging the metaverse. Metaverse represents a major new market for telcos with early estimates of the overall size of the Metaverse opportunity to be around $13 trillion by 2030. For example, Ericsson estimates the opportunity presented by 5G fixed wireless access at $5 billion in 2022, growing to $21 billion in 2025 and $53 billion by 2030.Three related forces drive the imperative for telcos to be proactive in their Metaverse strategies and tactics. First, the demand is likely to be too large to ignore. Second, the risk of failure or non-participation could be existential: hyperscalers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure will be close on the heels of those telco players that fail to guarantee the infrastructure the Metaverse necessitates. Third, consumer behavior, particularly from Gen Z, shows that demand for Metaverse products is already well into the mainstream. For example, according to a recent study by Obsess, 75% of Gen Z virtual shoppers have already purchased a digital product within a video game. To connect with this generation of consumers, telcos must invest in Metaverse offerings and capabilities.Given these three factors, telcos should explore how they can benefit from the Metaverse’s rise, both with infrastructure and through direct participation. By engaging effectively with this new market, benefits for telcos include growth from increased revenues and retention and new efficiency gains along multiple axes, including carbon usage and workforce outsourcing.Thomas Kuruvilla, Managing Partner, Arthur D. Little, Middle East, said: “The expected acceleration in Metaverse prospects is driven by a real convergence of multiple factors: internet connectivity, technology related to sensors to collect data, digitalization and AI — and the value of a reliable communication is obvious. As highlighted in the report, the Metaverse will add tremendous value to all and this should allow telcos to share a part of the benefit, as increased revenue which can be spend on network infrastructure and addressing the challenge of ultra-low-latency requirements. A good connectivity will enable Healthcare and Education providers to deliver services to disadvantaged and remote communities – and at an overall lower cost – democratizing access and care for citizens worldwide. Going forward, the % increase in adoption of digital services/Metaverse will be higher with the lower income population ADL estimates the total addressable market will grow at a 33% CAGR from 2022–2025 (excluding infrastructure and enabling technologies).” Dr. Albert Meige, Director of Blue Shift at Arthur D. Little, said: “The Metaverse provide a vision for the transition to a more connected, immersive and tech-driven world. It could also be a crucial accelerator in the search for tools that support the individual lifestyle of the next generation of consumers. It is increasingly clear that speeding up infrastructure enhancements to meet demand is not only essential but urgent, and the telecommunications sector is at the heart of this challenge. The aim of this Viewpoint is to spotlight key enablers and provide recommendations for telcos to unlock the potential of the Metaverse opportunity and help them enact a fast and equitable digital transition.”ADL Viewpoint explores the multifold benefits for telcos, from leveraging infrastructure to building new business models to capturing downstream value through active participation in the Metaverse as a “single point of service.” The Viewpoint underlines that speed is important in capturing the Metaverse opportunity, and spotlights that the Metaverse necessitates structural changes to the telecom industry on an infrastructure level and offers valuable economic and strategic benefits for those telcos that actively participate in it. Metaverse Requires Enabling TechnologiesTelcos will need to develop key enabling technologies — from infrastructure to artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics — to fully participate in the Metaverse, including the following:Local compute for a truly immersive experienceUltra-low-latency communications for a lag-free experienceEnhanced cloud computing for interactions on a mass scaleAnalytics & AI capabilities to facilitate telcos’ activitiesPrivacy & trust infrastructure to tame the regulatory “Wild West”ADL Viewpoint explores the multifold benefits for telcos, from leveraging infrastructure to building new business models to capturing downstream value through active participation in the Metaverse as a “single point of service.” With excellent customer understanding and trust alongside a fundamental role in enabling the Metaverse (infrastructure), telcos are well positioned to move through the value chain to capture a greater slice of the pie.

Agthia Q3 revenue grows 20% to AED 954 million

 Agthia Group PJSC, one of the region’s leading food and beverage companies, today announced net revenue of AED 954 million for Q3 2022, up 20% year-on-year, following the successful consolidation and integration of recent acquisitions.Group EBITDA increased 23% year-on-year to AED 128 million notwithstanding significant upwards pressure on raw material costs in the period, testament to both strong cost discipline and leveraging synergies across new verticals. Net profit was AED 40.5 million, up 14% on the prior year.Khalifa Sultan Al Suwaidi, Chairman of Agthia Group, said: “Agthia’s strong third quarter performance demonstrates management’s proven ability to acquire and consolidate value accretive businesses while leveraging synergies and maintaining a profitable core. In conjunction with its clear strategic priorities, growing capabilities, and strong executive team, I am confident that Agthia will continue to deliver value for all stakeholders in both the near and longer-term as it continues its transformative journey to a leading food and beverage company in the MENAP region and beyond.”Alan Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Agthia Group, said: “Despite a challenging external backdrop, I am pleased to report another quarter of profitable growth, combining strong performance from recently acquired businesses and our enduring focus on efficiency generation. We continue to consolidate our strategic acquisitions made this year and last year and look forward to completing the acquisition of Auf Group – having already secured the necessary approvals from the Board of Directors – to enhance our Egyptian footprint and further expand our snacking division. We remain enthused by the long-term growth opportunity ahead of us.”From a financial perspective:Revenue from Agthia’s Consumer Business Division grew 29% year-on-year, and now represents 76% of the total group, up from 71% in the prior year.Revenue from the Protein & Frozen segment was AED 308 million, up 39% year-on-year, reflecting good portfolio and channel management. On a constant currency basis, adjusting for the recent devaluation in the Egyptian pound, Q3 sales growth was 56% year-on-year.Snacking revenue was AED 182 million for the quarter, up 69% year-on-year and underpinned by strong growth from the Group’s dates business. BMB, consolidated from the start of 2022, contributed AED 55 million.Water & Food revenue was AED 238 million for the quarter, with 1% growth year-on-year reflecting lower demand across the UAE as post-pandemic outbound travel accelerated over the holiday period. Market leadership in UAE bottled water across retail was maintained with a 27.9% share, with good incremental growth across both Food Service and 5-gallon home delivery subscriptions.Agri-business revenue for the quarter was AED 225 million, marginally down year-on-year reflecting lower demand during the summer months, albeit up 10% on a year-to-date basis. Proactive management of mix in the quarter supported stronger profitability year-on-year, offsetting significant inflationary pressures across key commodities.Agthia also announced a strategic long-term lease covering the assets and operations of the UAE frozen bakery business with the Middle East operations of La Lorraine, a Belgian-based Bakery Group with over 80 years of milling and bakery experience.The Group’s total assets stood at AED 6.6 billion as of 30th September 2022, while total shareholders’ equity for the period stood at AED 2.8 billion.In line with Agthia’s semi-annual dividend distribution policy, a cash dividend equivalent to 8.25 fils per share for the first half of 2022 was disbursed post all subsequent approvals on 1st October 2022. Agthia Group PJSC, one of the region’s leading food and beverage companies, today announced net revenue of AED 954 million for Q3 2022, up 20% year-on-year, following the successful consolidation and integration of recent acquisitions.Group EBITDA increased 23% year-on-year to AED 128 million notwithstanding significant upwards pressure on raw material costs in the period, testament to both strong cost discipline and leveraging synergies across new verticals. Net profit was AED 40.5 million, up 14% on the prior year.Khalifa Sultan Al Suwaidi, Chairman of Agthia Group, said: “Agthia’s strong third quarter performance demonstrates management’s proven ability to acquire and consolidate value accretive businesses while leveraging synergies and maintaining a profitable core. In conjunction with its clear strategic priorities, growing capabilities, and strong executive team, I am confident that Agthia will continue to deliver value for all stakeholders in both the near and longer-term as it continues its transformative journey to a leading food and beverage company in the MENAP region and beyond.”Alan Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Agthia Group, said: “Despite a challenging external backdrop, I am pleased to report another quarter of profitable growth, combining strong performance from recently acquired businesses and our enduring focus on efficiency generation. We continue to consolidate our strategic acquisitions made this year and last year and look forward to completing the acquisition of Auf Group – having already secured the necessary approvals from the Board of Directors – to enhance our Egyptian footprint and further expand our snacking division. We remain enthused by the long-term growth opportunity ahead of us.”From a financial perspective:Revenue from Agthia’s Consumer Business Division grew 29% year-on-year, and now represents 76% of the total group, up from 71% in the prior year.Revenue from the Protein & Frozen segment was AED 308 million, up 39% year-on-year, reflecting good portfolio and channel management. On a constant currency basis, adjusting for the recent devaluation in the Egyptian pound, Q3 sales growth was 56% year-on-year.Snacking revenue was AED 182 million for the quarter, up 69% year-on-year and underpinned by strong growth from the Group’s dates business. BMB, consolidated from the start of 2022, contributed AED 55 million.Water & Food revenue was AED 238 million for the quarter, with 1% growth year-on-year reflecting lower demand across the UAE as post-pandemic outbound travel accelerated over the holiday period. Market leadership in UAE bottled water across retail was maintained with a 27.9% share, with good incremental growth across both Food Service and 5-gallon home delivery subscriptions.Agri-business revenue for the quarter was AED 225 million, marginally down year-on-year reflecting lower demand during the summer months, albeit up 10% on a year-to-date basis. Proactive management of mix in the quarter supported stronger profitability year-on-year, offsetting significant inflationary pressures across key commodities.Agthia also announced a strategic long-term lease covering the assets and operations of the UAE frozen bakery business with the Middle East operations of La Lorraine, a Belgian-based Bakery Group with over 80 years of milling and bakery experience.The Group’s total assets stood at AED 6.6 billion as of 30th September 2022, while total shareholders’ equity for the period stood at AED 2.8 billion.In line with Agthia’s semi-annual dividend distribution policy, a cash dividend equivalent to 8.25 fils per share for the first half of 2022 was disbursed post all subsequent approvals on 1st October 2022.

STARZPLAY announces new partnership with Perfect Solutions

STARZPLAY, ranked consistently among the region’s top 3 subscription video on demand service, today announced its partnership with Perfect Solutions in Jordan to bring the world of football closer to fans in the market. Perfect Solutions has fostered strong relations and also offers access to government agencies in its distribution network.As part of the distribution deal, Perfect Solutions will provide sports lovers with physical vouchers as an alternative to subscribing via credit card to STARZPLAY’s sports offering, which is currently streaming the prestigious Italian Football League Serie A. The vouchers will be sold across Perfect Solutions’ 500+ stores.Raghida Abou Fadel, SVP for Business Development & Sales, STARZPLAY, said: “We are pleased to partner with Perfect Solutions to offer our services via their extensive network. Subscription through distributors is one of the fastest and easiest ways to make our content available to millions of subscribers. Credit card penetration outside of the UAE is relatively low and such partnerships therefore support in expanding our subscriber base and connecting with new users. Subscription base from these partnerships is our biggest growth channel and we look forward to strengthening our network.”Tariq Doglas, CEO from Perfect Solutions added “We are delighted to partner with the region’s leading streaming platform STARZPLAY to offer additional benefits and convenience to our customers. With the evolving consumer needs, it has become imperative to offer value-added benefits to retain our existing customer base as well as attract potential customers. We are confident our partnership with STARZPPLAY will be welcomed by our customers and will certainly bring more value to their overall experience with us.”STARZPLAY Sports is home to premium international and regional tournaments such as Serie A, Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana, Dutch Eredivisie, International Cricket, All Elite Wrestling, PGA Tour, EuroLeague & EuroCup basketball competitions, Queensbury Boxing, any many more sporting leagues.With thousands of hours of premium content including the best western content, Arabic shows, Turkish favourites, anime, and live sports, STARZPLAY is available in 19 countries across the Middle East, North?Africa,?and Pakistan for fans to enjoy quality content anytime, anywhere, and from any device.

Zain Group’s nine months 2022 net profit soars 12% to reach KD 152mln

Zain Group, the leading telecom innovator in seven markets across the Middle East and Africa, announces its consolidated financial results for the third-quarter (Q3) and nine-month periods (9M) ended September 30, 2022. The company added 3.5 million active subscribers to serve a total of 52 million customers, a 7% year-on-year (Y-o-Y) growth.Group Key Performance Indicators (KD and USD) for the nine months (9M) 2022Consolidated RevenueKD 1.3 billion      - USD 4.2 billion    EBITDAKD 491 million     - USD 1.6 billion    EBITDA Margin39%  Net IncomeKD 152 million     - USD 497 million   EPS35 fils                   - USD 0.11  For 9M 2022, Zain Group generated consolidated revenue of KD 1.3 billion (USD 4.2 billion), up 12% year-on-year (Y-o-Y), while consolidated EBITDA for the period reached KD 491 million (USD 1.6 billion), up 3% Y-o-Y, reflecting a healthy EBITDA margin of 39%. Efficiency and optimization initiatives resulted in consolidated net income increasing 12% Y-o-Y, amounting to KD 152 million (USD 497 million). Earnings per share amounted to 35 fils (USD 0.11) for the nine-month period.Group Key Performance Indicators (KD and USD) for third-quarter (Q3) 2022Consolidated RevenueKD 441 million - USD 1.4 billion   EBITDAKD 171 million - USD 555 million     EBITDA Margin39%Net IncomeKD 54 million  - USD 176 million  EPS13 fils              - USD 0.04    In Q3 2022, Zain Group generated consolidated revenue of KD 441 million (USD 1.4 billion), up an impressive 15% Y-o-Y. EBITDA for the quarter reached KD 171 million (USD 555 million), an increase of 2% Y-o-Y, reflecting a 39% EBITDA margin. Net income for the three months amounted to KD 54 million (USD 176 million), a 10% increase Y-o-Y. Earnings per share for Q3’22 amounted to 13 fils (USD 0.04).The significant increase in 9M consolidated net income is mainly due to the impressive performance of operations, particularly Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. The subsiding of the pandemic and increased economic activity across all markets combined with appealing consumer digital service offerings centered around streaming and gaming, had a positive effect on the results. Furthermore, lucrative ZainTech and B2B monetization initiatives amplified investments made in 4G, 5G and FTTH expansion and upgrades, also drove revenue growth.Key Operational Notes for 9M 2022An interim cash dividend of 10 fils, totaling USD140 million was distributed in September 2022The 9M 2022 period was highlighted by the 109% Y-o-Y increase in net income at Zain KSA, a 140% net income increase at Zain Sudan and a 5% net income growth at Zain KuwaitData revenue grew 3% to reach USD 1.66 billion representing 40% of consolidated revenueThe first nine months saw Zain Group invest USD 316 million in CAPEX reflecting 8% of revenue, mainly in Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH); spectrum fees; 4G upgrades and 5G rolloutsZain Jordan agreement with government includes extension of the current spectrum licenses for 10 years and a 25-year 5G licenseZain KSA expects to finalize the sale of its passive Tower infrastructure to the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund led consortium for USD807 million in Q4, 2022Zain Bahrain receives approval from the Central Bank for a Fintech licenseCombined, Tamam in Saudi Arabia, Zain Cash in Iraq and Jordan, and M-Gurush in South Sudan increase their customer base by 34% with annual revenue growth of over 231%Digital services groupwide witness revenue growth of 47% Y-o-Y, inclusive of the Dizlee (API) platform, which continues its trajectory growth, offering 51 live services and resulting in over 175 million API transactions since launch in mid-2018Digital operator ‘Yaqoot’ in KSA saw revenue growth of 129% Y-o-YThe evolution of Zain Esports continues through the August 2022 launch of PLAYHERA MENA, a JV between Zain Group, Zain KSA and PLAYHERA. To date, Zain Esports has held 25 major tournaments, with 30,000 participants and acquired over 50 million social media impressionsZain joins the UN Global Compact initiative, a leadership platform for the development, implementation, and disclosure of responsible business practicesZain ranked best employer in Kuwait, among top-10 companies to work for in region by ForbesZainTech enters agreement to acquire BIOS Middle East, a regional cloud provider and receives two innovative awards from SAMENA Council-MEA Business Technology Achievement Awards. Chairman of Zain Group, Ahmed Al Tahous said, “These strong financial results underscore the Board and management’s focus on ensuring that investments in new growth opportunities, network upgrades and environmental, social and governance practices enhance shareholder value. We firmly believe that by providing meaningful connectivity that fosters equitable systemic change, we are empowering and improving the socio-economic well-being of the communities, businesses and government bodies we serve.”Zain Vice-Chairman and Group CEO, Bader Al-Kharafi commented, “This outstanding 9M operational performance is testament to the successful execution of our ‘4Sight’ growth strategy that has firmly strengthened the company’s financial position to fund future opportunities. Our focus on driving efficiencies, synergies and digital transformation across our operations, in tandem with investing in new business verticals and network upgrades, all rooted in sustainability and inclusivity at the core of everything we do, is paying off.”“With the global economy witnessing socio-economic challenges on multiple fronts, Zain’s track record of resilience and agility to adapt to a vastly changing environment, has prepared us well to tap into the many lucrative opportunities that may arise.”“As we drive the business forward seeking healthy cashflows, mainly through innovation in the consumer digital arena and the lucrative B2B space, our primary aims are to be the ICT partner of choice for governments and enterprises across the region and provide our individual customers an exceptional digital lifestyle experience.”“Our portfolio optimization strategy is well on track following the successful sale of our passive tower infrastructure in Kuwait, Jordan and soon KSA, with Iraq next in the pipeline. In Jordan, following the granting of a 25-year 5G license, we expect to be live with 5G services in H2’ 2023, a significant milestone in the Kingdom’s rich telecom history, given the socio-economic boost this technology will give to the Jordanian community.”“From a technology advancement point of view, another milestone was the deployment of our Nationwide Narrowband-IOT (Internet of Things) network in Kuwait and Bahrain, creating an exciting ecosystem for customers and enterprises.”“In Kuwait, the operation continues playing its pivotal and innovative role in support the country’s Vision 2035, recently highlighted by the launch of the world’s first Voice over 5G (Vo5G); the launching of cloud services in coordination with ZainTech; and successfully completing the first live trial in the region of Open and Virtual Radio Access Network (Open cRAN), firmly cementing Kuwait on the global ICT map. We look forward to attaining a Digital banking license in 2023 and offering our customers a range of dynamic Fintech services, fulfilling our aspirations of becoming the leading telco-led bank in Kuwait.”Al Kharafi concluded, “The adoption and successful implementation of comprehensive Sustainability and Diversity and Inclusion programs across our footprint have had an enormous positive impact on the work culture, and it was rewarding to be recognized in Forbes magazine global list as the best employer in Kuwait and top ten regionally for the second time.”Operational review of key markets for the nine months ended 30 September, 2022Kuwait: Maintaining its market leadership in all key performance indicators, Zain Group’s flagship operation saw its customer base grow notably by 12% to now serve 2.6 million customers. It remains the Group’s most profitable operation. 9M 2022 revenue grew 10% to reach KD 258 million (USD 844 million), EBITDA grew 8% to reach KD 99 million (USD 323 million), representing an EBITDA margin of 38%. Net income grew 5% to reach KD 61 million (USD 200 million) for 9M 2022, with data revenue growing 2% and accounting for 38% of total revenue.Saudi Arabia: For the 9M 2022, Zain KSA revenue grew 15% to reach SAR 6.7 billion (USD 1.8 billion), EBITDA for the period reached SAR 2.2 billion (USD 598 million), reflecting an EBITDA margin of 34%. Net income for the nine months grew 109% to reach SAR 299 million (USD 80 million). Data revenue represents 44% of total revenue and customers served stood at 8.6 million, a growth of 15%. The impressive net income is attributed to the increase in revenue driven by the growth in B2B, 5G, and the return of international Umrah and business visitors post the Kingdom relaxing COVID restrictions.Iraq: Zain Iraq’s 9M 2022 revenue grew by 5% to reach USD 601 million and EBITDA grew by 6% to reach USD 241 million, reflecting EBITDA margin of 40%. Net income reached USD 10 million for 9M 2022. The operator’s customer base increased by 11%, now to serve 18.4 million customers maintaining its market leading position.Sudan: For 9M 2022, Zain Sudan generated revenue of USD 339 million (up 41%), with EBITDA amounting to USD 178 million (up 51%), reflecting an EBITDA margin of 53%. The operation reported an impressive net profit of USD 174 million, reflecting a 140% increase in USD terms. Data revenue grew 60% YoY and represented 32% of total revenue, while the operator’s customer base reached 16.2 million, maintaining its market leadership. Price revamps to mitigate the currency devaluation along with data monetization and consumer centric initiatives were instrumental in the impressive financials.Jordan: For 9M 2022, Zain Jordan revenue increased by 2% to USD 382 million, EBITDA reached USD 170 million, reflecting a healthy EBITDA margin of 44%, with net income reaching USD 51 million. With the ongoing expansion of 4G services across the country, data revenue represented 50% of total revenue. Zain Jordan served 3.8 million customers (up 4%) maintaining its market leading position. With the recent 10-year extension of 2G, 3G and 4G licenses and the granting of a 25-year 5G license that will be commercially live in H2, 2023, the operation is well-primed for robust financial performance. Bahrain: Zain Bahrain generated revenue of USD 134 million for 9M 2022 (5% growth). EBITDA grew 2% to reach USD 44.3 million, reflecting an EBITDA margin of 33%, while Net income grew 1% to reach USD 12 million, for 9M 2022. Driven by its commitment to sustainability, the operation deployed the latest 5G Massive MIMO radio to reduce Zain's 5G site-level power consumption by 15%; the first telco to deploy this advanced solution in the Middle East and Africa.

Bain & Company appoints Mourad Limam as a Partner in the Middle East

Bain & Company, the leading global management consulting firm, today announces the appointment of Mourad Limam as a partner in its Dubai office, with a focus on the firm’s Private Equity (Sovereign Wealth Funds) and Advanced Manufacturing Services (Real Estate and Social Infrastructure) practices in the Middle East region.Limam, whose appointment as Partner is effective October 1, joins Bain & Company from the Emerging Markets organisation of Henkel Adhesives Technologies in MEA, where he was responsible for P&L and business growth, in addition to transforming the operating model and reshaping the organization.His appointment as partner comes as Bain & Company continues its strong expansion across the EMEA region, extending its European footprint with new offices opened recently in both Lisbon and Athens.“The addition of Mourad to our Partner team further strengthens our expertise in key focus areas for Bain & Company in the Middle East. His wealth of experience as an advisor and executive, and proven leadership track record – with particular depth in real estate and infrastructure – will enable us to provide even more innovative solutions to our clients. I am confident that Mourad will add significant value to our wide range of corporate, government, and investor clients in the Middle East in his new role,” said Tom De Waele, Managing Partner at Bain & Company Middle East.Limam underwent his higher education in Germany, graduating with a Ph.D. in Automotive Mechatronics from the Technical University of Dresden and a Master’s in Computer Science from the University of Stuttgart.“I’m delighted to be joining Bain & Company and for the opportunity to work with an array of clients, adding value through my investment and development experience in the Middle East,” Limam said. “It’s an exciting time for the region, with plenty of strategic growth opportunities to leverage, especially as we are seeing major government investments across key geographies. I look forward to the challenge and to helping the team create innovative solutions for our valued partners.”

Collinson appoints Jon Holmes as Chief Financial Officer

Collinson has today announced the board appointment of Jon Holmes as its new Chief Financial Officer. Jon comes to Collinson with more than 20 years financial and operations experience, including at travel companies such as Avios, TUI and Virgin Holidays.In his role as Chief Financial Officer, Jon will oversee all of Collinson’s financial teams from across the globe, with the aim of driving better financial global insights. He’ll work closely with, and report into, Joint CEO Christopher Evans, providing the overall financial governance to the group to support rapid growth, increased innovation, and the creation of new commercial models.Jon brings to Collinson a wealth of experience leading finance teams at some of the travel industry’s biggest companies. His previous roles include Head of Finance at AirMiles (now Avios/IAG Loyalty), Head of Finance at TUI, Finance and Strategy Director at Virgin Holidays and most recently CFO at INTO University Partnerships, a privately owned business recruiting international students globally into the US, UK and Australia. After gaining a First-Class degree in Engineering from the University of Nottingham, Jon trained with PWC and KPMG and has been a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants since 2012.“Jon's strong international experience and travel and loyalty experience, coupled with his track record in optimising business performance and platform transformation, means he is ideally placed to lead our finance teams and help deliver our strategic objectives and realise our full potential,” said Christopher Evans, Joint CEO, Collinson. “We know Jon will make a big shift in the way we capture, analyse and use financial information, giving us better insights that will drive faster and enhanced decision making, in what is a very dynamic environment as we accelerate out of the pandemic.” Over more than seven years with INTO, Jon helped the business to expand globally and triple profitability within five years. He also led the securing of major new bank financing and the group’s Covid-19 financial response planning to safely navigate through the pandemic. During his 10 years with Virgin Holidays, Jon led a number of initiatives which saw the company achieve record profits, launch V-ROOM airport lounges, and open over 100 new retail stores, as well as leading its push to replace all major systems."It’s a really exciting time to be joining Collinson. The travel industry is rapidly ramping back up, and now is the time to see what the company can be doing to even further improve travel experiences for its customers,” added Jon. “I’ve always enjoyed working in growing entrepreneurial businesses which have a strong focus both on their clients and their own people. Collinson is truly a people-led business, and I’m looking forward to seeing how we can evolve our propositions to help people really love their journeys again at this time.”

HP announces new leadership team in the Middle East

 HP announces new leaders in the Middle East and Africa region:Ertug Ayik is appointed Managing Director of HP business in the Middle East and Africa regions. Ertug joined HP 25 years ago and during his career has held various executive positions covering sales and marketing in company’s computing and printing businesses. In an extremely dynamic, constantly changing, and competitive sector, he has worked on building teams and strategies to embrace technologies both in personal and commercial environments. After being the General Manager of HP in Turkey, he moved to Dubai in 2015 and most recently successfully lead Print Business in the EEMEA region (Eastern Europe, Middle East & Turkey, Africa).Ertug holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical & Electronics Engineering and an MBA from Bosphorus University, Turkey.Peter Oganesean is appointed Managing Director of HP Middle East. Peter joined HP in 2005 and since then has been working in different leadership roles out of the UAE. Over the last 10 years Peter acted as Managing Director of HP UAE & East Africa and his most recent role was Head of Print for Middle East, KSA and Turkey.Peter holds a BS in Finance from Academy of Economic Studies of Moldova, he also did an Executive Education program from Stanford University Graduate School of Business in California, US.Both IT veterans are located in Dubai, UAE.

Nike survey reveals UAE and KSA parents’ perception of playing sport

New research, conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Nike Middle East, has been revealed today to understand the perceived benefits of kids in the UAE and KSA playing sports. Ahead of the launch of Nike’s new playbook entitled ‘Five minutes more’, the research aims to underscore the relationship that kids have with sport, and to educate parents on how to ‘plan for play’.The survey, undertaken by 1,010 parents across the UAE and KSA, found 79 percent of parents in the UAE and 62 percent in KSA thought the main benefit of having their children participating in sport was for physical fitness and/or development. The findings show that there is still an age-old perception that sport is only done to remain physically fit, whereas Nike want to demonstrate that there are many transferable skills kids can learn from doing sport.The survey was conducted as part of Nike’s ‘Sport is never done’ campaign, aimed at highlighting lifelong benefits of physical play for kids. As part of this, Nike Middle East has published a playbook called ‘Five Minutes More’, which invites parents and kids to discover the benefits of sport together by combining interactive storytelling with practical advice on how to ‘plan for play’.Parents in the UAE and KSA are aware of some of the benefits of doing sport that Nike aims to highlight in the playbook. It was identified in the same survey that general wellbeing, mental health and social interaction were among the top benefits of having kids participate in sports. The survey also highlighted that 44 percent of parents in the UAE and 36 percent in KSA see that sport allows their kids to learn the feeling of winning and losing, additionally 31 percent in UAE and 29 percent in KSA recognized that sport lets their kids understand the importance of persistence and determination. The playbook aims to bring these skills to the forefront of the conversation with parents.“The survey showed us that there is still a perception that sport is only done to remain physically fit when the reality is that there are so many additional transferrable skills kids can master to help them thrive in their adult lives. We want to raise awareness of sport-related benefits beyond just the physical and draw greater focus on essential soft skill development that equips kids with the tools to be successful. ‘Five minutes more’ was manifested out of passion and a proven belief that collaborative play and interaction between parents and kids accelerates cognitive development in a fun and engaging way,” said Mohamed Bodiat, Senior Vice President Brands, Sports from GMG, Nike's official distributor in the Middle East.‘Five minutes more’, aptly named after a phrase most parents have heard from their children on at least one occasion, showcases the relationships kids have with a variety of sports including skating, climbing, running and breakdancing. The playbook is designed for kids and parents to read together to show parents that their kids can learn courage, creativity, confidence and many more life skills, through participating in sport.The complementary book will be available in hardback from select Nike stores across the region and the digital eBook can be downloaded from 25 October 2022 through

Fintech Saudi: Over SAR 1.50bln has been invested in Saudi fintech industry

Over the last 12 months, the financial technology (“fintech”) industry in Saudi Arabia has continued to grow at a rapid pace. The recently published Fintech Saudi Annual Report 2021/2022, highlights that the number of fintech companies active in Saudi Arabia rose dramatically by 79% and investment into Saudi fintech companies for the year exceeded SAR 1.50 bn (USD 400m).During 2021 / 2022 we have seen the development of a maturing fintech industry in the Kingdom,” said Nezar Alhaidar, Director of Fintech Saudi. “This year has been a significant year for the development of the Fintech industry in the Kingdom with the launch of the Fintech Strategy, which will drive Saudi Arabia to become a global fintech hub. We are pleased that we are on the way to achieving this target with 147 fintechs now active in the Kingdom.”The report emphasized that over the last year there has been a growth in almost all fintech areas and in particular infrastructure activities as the Kingdom prepares for Open Banking.. In addition to the approval of the Fintech Strategy, there have also been a number of regulatory developments including the approval of a third digital bank, enhancements to the Saudi Central Bank Regulatory Sandbox and the release of the regulatory framework for equity crowdfunding license.Fintech Saudi has also continued to play a pivotal role in supporting the fintech industry with the launch of its co-working space, the Hub, that has become the home of fintech activity in the Kingdom and successful completion of the first accelerator program to support fintech companies with regulatory applications.Moreover, the report anticipated the year 2022/2023 to be another significant period for the fintech industry. with the launch of 3 new digital banks, new regulations released by SAMA and CMA and the implementation of the Fintech Strategy.The Fintech Saudi Annual Report consists of a number of sections including the Fintech Strategy, Innovation in the Capital Market, Digital Banking, and the View from Fintech’s in Saudi.

Abu Dhabi Moments' set for kick-off this weekend

Abu Dhabi Moments, the exciting series of emirate-wide entertainment and games, will kick off on November 11 to run until Sunday at Khalifa Square at Khalifa City from 4pm till 11pm.The customised experiences have been carefully designed to appeal to all age groups and include stage musical shows with Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and many more; the bubble shows, balloon twister, magic shows, and pet lovers are invited to enjoy the K9 Dogs shows.There will be roaming entertainment and workshops guaranteed to amuse the little ones, while families can enjoy the mini farm, clay pot making, art shows, community painting, coffee barista, home garden workshop and traditional handcrafts on display.In total, there are more than 60 activities to take part in over the three days of the event.

IDC to Host the Middle East's ICT Partner Ecosystem for two Days

 International Data Corporation (IDC) believes that one of the most notable outcomes of the pandemic for the technology industry has been the realization of improved results as a direct consequence of partnerships and collaboration, with the events of the last three years opening up even more opportunities for businesses to form multiple partnerships that fill skills gaps, drive innovation, and disrupt entire industries.Against this backdrop, the Middle East's ICT partner ecosystem will be gathering at the UAE's InterContinental Fujairah Resort on November 9-10 for the region's inaugural installment of IDC Alliance. Showcasing the very latest in channel and alliance trends, this unique event will provide an unrivaled platform for ICT vendors and partners to enhance their relationships, explore emerging opportunities, and develop new leads."At a time when end-user organizations across all industries are shifting towards "digital-first" strategies to help build resilience and navigate a changed world, technology vendors, distributors, service providers, and other players are increasingly collaborating and co-creating through connected ecosystems to deliver digital value to customers," says Ranjit Rajan, IDC's vice president of research for the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. "I'm delighted to be opening the region's first ever IDC Alliance event, where I will be examining the impact of tech ecosystems, partnership models, and partner transformation priorities, and discuss forces that will shape IT channels and alliances for the next 12 months and beyond."The event will feature a dynamic agenda of informative presentations, networking opportunities, and fun activities hosted by senior IDC analysts and executives for a handpicked audience that will include some of the region's biggest names in technology and business.Eng. Raed I. Al-Fayez, deputy governor for information technology and emerging technologies at Saudi Arabia's Communications, Space, and Technology Commission (CST) will present the event's keynote address, 'Developing a Vibrant Digital Ecosystem in Saudi Arabia', while Tejas Patel, managing director of Accenture Strategy and Consulting, will be on hand to outline the key strategic forces that all businesses must harness as the rapid rate of technology innovation continues to gather pace.The agenda will include three dedicated technology tracks headed by senior executives from du, GBM, and Wipro that will serve up first-hand insights on how to successfully build and leverage effective partner ecosystems in the areas of cloud, security, and IoT. And a series of interactive panel discussions will provide strategic guidance on the following topics:Ecosystems of the FutureEmerging Trends: The Future Tech and the MetaverseCelebrating Women Leaders: A Diversity Journey to SuccessAre You Aligned?Sustainable Strategies and Technologies: Operationalization, Impact Measurability, and Business Value CreationThese not-to-be-missed sessions will feature exclusive insights from the IDC Alliance Advisory Council for the Middle East, whose members include:Eng. Raed I. Al-Fayez, Deputy Governor for Information Technology and Emerging Technologies, Saudi Arabia's Communications, Space, and Technology CommissionAmr Refaat, Chief Executive Officer, Gulf Business Machines (GBM)Essam AlShiha, Chief Executive Officer, Saudi Business Machines (SBM)Viswanath Pallasena, Chief Executive Officer, RedingtonHatem Elkady, Chief Partnerships and Synergies Officer, solutions by stcGaby Matar, Executive Vice President, Solutions and Services, MDS System Integration GroupSumanta Roy, Vice President and Regional Head, Middle East, Africa, and Mediterranean, Tata Consultancy ServicesTejas Patel, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy and ConsultingFrancisco Salcedo, General Manager, Enterprise, Middle East and Africa, MicrosoftMaya Zakhour, Channel Sales Director, Eastern Europe, META, Iberia, and Latin America, NetAppTo learn more about the Middle East's inaugural edition of IDC Alliance, please click here. Alternatively, you can contact Sheila Manek at   or on +971 4 446 3154. You can also join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #IDCALLIANCE.The Middle East edition of IDC Alliance is supported by Kuwait's Central Agency for Information Technology (CAIT) and a host of other partners, including NetApp / Ingram Micro, VMware / Ingram Micro, Dell / Intel, and Lenovo / Intel as Trailblazer Partners; Riverbed, SentinelOne, SBM, Cloudera, and Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company as Game Changer Partners; and GCC Business News, International Business Magazine, Security Middle East Magazine, Tech Magazine, AI Time Journal, IE Industry Events, Smart Money Match, and CoinPedia as Media Partners.

HUB71 and YAHSAT to advance innovative technologies

Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem, and Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PJSC “Yahsat” (ADX: AEA007501017), the UAE’s flagship satellite solutions provider listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), today announced a collaboration to accelerate startup technology adoption in satellite communications.Through this partnership, Yahsat will work with founders in the Hub71 community to advance technological innovations that support the development of the UAE’s mobile satellite capabilities. The first contract resulting from the new partnership is an agreement between Yahsat and Hub71-based startup, Mental VR, a Virtual Reality (VR) software development company. Mental VR will provide its state-of-the-art VR technology and deliver dynamic and seamless training programs for Yahsat personnel in remote locations.The wider partnership between Yahsat and Hub71 will help identify technology startups that have the potential to advance the UAE’s space industry and strengthen satellite communication technologies. Hub71 and Yahsat are both supported by Mubadala Investment Company and will work collaboratively towards building national capabilities and contributing to the UAE’s economic growth for the next 50 years. As part of the partnership agreement, Yahsat has appointed Hub71 as its Innovation Partner.Hub71 startups will get to work alongside global experts from Yahsat and receive strategic mentorship to gain insights into satellite technologies and the space industry. Startups will also be able to explore commercial opportunities as part of Yahsat’s satellite and technology program.Badr Al-Olama, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Hub71, said: “Our partnership with Yahsat reinforces our commitment to support tech initiatives that create impact for Abu Dhabi. Through this partnership, we will promote economic opportunities and strengthen the UAE's growing position as a leading global hub for technological excellence.”Ali Al Hashemi, Chief Executive Officer of Yahsat, added: “Yahsat is proud to have been a pioneer in the satellite services industry within the UAE, championing the establishment of the nation as a global hub for space tech. Our partnership with Hub71 is aligned with our commitment to build local capabilities and enhance the national space economy through collaborations with the startup ecosystem. As two UAE entities with a foundational base in Abu Dhabi, we look forward to working together to create greater opportunities for the development and enhancement of the satellite services industry.”Since its inception, Hub71 has rapidly expanded its ecosystem, which is now home to almost 200 startups working across 20 sectors. The global tech ecosystem has created a thriving business environment for founders with dedicated programs that promote increased commercial and fundraising opportunities. Hub71 startups have raised AED 3.2 billion from renowned investors globally and generated AED 2.7 billion revenues since 2019.

Waleed Al Malki is promoted to the new director of sales for Hyatt Regency Riyad

Waleed Al Malki has been newly promoted to Director of Sales for Hyatt Regency Riyadh Olaya. With his rich experience of the local market and as the property’s Director of Sales – Government Affairs and Protocol, Waleed will help the property find new market niches, improve performance, expand into new feeder areas, generate higher profits and solidify the brand's position in the fierce business market of Riyadh.Waleed joined the hospitality industry in 2003 as a Front Office Agent. He quickly moved up the ladder to the position of Front Office Supervisor in 2006, then as Front Office Manager from 2012 until 2018. He gained experience working at different hospitality chains; namely, Marriott Riyadh, Al Faisalliah, The Ritz Carlton and Nobu Riyadh (pre-opening), before making the move to Hyatt Regency Riyadh Olaya in 2016 as the Front Office Manager.After demonstrating his interest and showcasing his talent in sales, Waleed had the opportunity to join the Hyatt cross-training program to expand his skills, after which he joined the department as the Director of Sales – Government Affairs and Protocol in 2018. In 2022, after consecutively exceeding budget goals, strengthening client relations and retaining their loyalty, and expanding the hotel’s business, he was promoted to the position of Director of Sales. Syed Wali Shah, Commercial Leader for the property, said, “Waleed continually developed strategic action plans and explored new markets and segments that resulted in phenomenal results for the hotel. His hard work, dedication and talent broadened his skillset in-line with the Hyatt focus on KSA market. In addition, Waleed has played a key role in recruiting and training a team of young Saudi talent within the team, in alignment with the Vision 2030’s theme of building a thriving economy and an ambitious nation. We have immense confidence in him to reach new heights with all that Kingdom has to offer with its ever-changing landscape of tourism.”

Ooredoo installs superior network assurance measures

Ooredoo and Huawei, two leaders in their respective fields in the international information and communications technology (ICT) sector, have teamed up ahead of the FIFA World Cup, to provide network assurance and the best ever customer experience during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM. Using its global experience of delivering network assurance programmes at international sporting events, along with the latest AR-assisted operations, Huawei will have 100 experts in place across different key locations in Qatar and remotely to ensure the success of the assurance programme during the World Cup. To make sure fans are always connected and will enjoy seamless voice and data services at the most hotly anticipated event of the year, latest generation network equipment has been deployed across seven FIFA stadiums, Qatar Rail metro lines and other major hotspots, to ensure the networks are fine-tuned, issues identified and fixed and comprehensive resilience tests performed. In addition, Ooredoo and Huawei have deployed a state-of-the-art international broadcast network solution, designed to seamlessly carry live broadcasting traffic globally around the clock, with centres installed at three different locations in Qatar to ensure its smooth operation. Ooredoo and Huawei have also launched next generation TV services through their fixed broadband network, which will provide an immersive experience for viewers in the state of Qatar who decide to watch the matches and live coverage from the comfort of their home.  The voice over LTE service experience will be upgraded and the platform enhanced to effectively manage the massively increased subscriber load anticipated during the event, with both companies working to maximise agility and performance, offering customised packages to customers at the click of a button. Additionally, Augmented Reality assisted operations will be used across FIFA stadiums and broadcast networks to ensure an error free experience.Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulla Al Thani, Chief Executive Officer, Ooredoo Qatar, said: “This strategic partnership between Ooredoo Qatar and Huawei looks set to be a winning team as the largest single-sport competition in the world comes to Qatar. Ooredoo continues to be committed to upgrading our customers’ world, and with 1.2 million fans expected to convene over the 29 days of the event, our common goal is to deliver transformational digital experiences for all, as well as to the billions watching on TV around the world.”Mr. Li Peng, President of Carrier BG Group, Huawei, said: "Huawei has a rich experience in various international sporting events. For this World Cup, Huawei will use multiple leading technologies in partnership with Ooredoo to contribute to the success of this exceptional event taking place in Qatar.”This is the latest in a series of strategic partnerships with key global technology players signed by the company to ensure an unrivalled World Cup experience for everyone.

DIFC to host a Global FinTech summit

 Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the UAE, and President of DIFC, has announced the launch of the Dubai FinTech Summit, a global event that will bring together more than 5,000 experts, thought leaders, policymakers and decision-makers in Dubai to discuss how they can shape a new wave of innovation, enterprise and growth for the international financial industry.To be organised by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Dubai FinTech Summit will take place on 8 and 9 May 2023 in Dubai. The event will see some of the world's biggest personalities in the industry delivering keynote presentations, sharing their perspectives on industry challenges and identifying opportunities to maximise the impact of FinTech for people, businesses and economies.Home to the region's largest cluster of FinTech and Innovation businesses, DIFC is one of the brightest growth spots in the global FinTech market valued at more than $135.9 billion in 2021. The global market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.9% between 2022-2027 to reach a value of over $266.9 billion by 2027.1 Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC, said: "The Dubai FinTech Summit will bring together ideas, knowledge and perspectives that can help unlock a new phase of exponential growth for the global financial sector and FinTech in the Global Economy. DIFC will leverage the platform offered by the Summit to bring together banks, FinTechs and regulators from across the world to further stimulate the digital advancement of the financial sector.We already have over 600 FinTech and innovation firms in DIFC who are changing the face of the industry and contributing to the economic growth of our country. The 23% expansion that DIFC's FinTech community saw in the first half of this year is a testament to the dynamic growth-friendly platform that we offer financial companies from across the world."The Summit's programme will feature in-depth discussions across key tracks including the future of FinTech, embedded and Open Finance, sustainability, Web 3.0 and digital assets. The Summit will also provide an opportunity for more than 100 FinTechs and Future of Finance players to display their latest technology and innovations.

Rixos Bab Al Bahr announces new marketing head

Rixos Bab Al Bahr has announced Lizan Gray is the new Marketing Manager of its Ultra-All Inclusive, five-star resort in Ras Al Khaimah.With nearly a decade of marketing and communications experience, Gray will oversee the operations of Rixos Bab Al Bahr’s marketing department with an immediate tie in to sales. Reporting directly to Horst Walther-Jones, the General Manager at Rixos Bab Al Bahr, Gray has been tasked with repositioning the resort as an award-winning family destination and elevating the guest experience through innovative new offerings and services. In addition, she will actively promote the property to the European, UK, CIS and GCC markets as an affordable way to experience luxury. Gray will also be supporting the resort’s CSR initiatives, finding new and innovative ways to give back to the community.Walther-Jones commented: “We were delighted with Lizan’s in-depth knowledge of the media landscape and quick grasp of hotel operations, so her appointment was very easy for us. Our property has 715 keys and brand-new leadership under Aldar. With multiple upgrades and exciting expansion plans in the framework, we are delighted to have Lizan at the helm of communicating these changes and driving our marketing initiatives.”Gray has extensive experience in the United Arab Emirates, having worked with numerous high-profile companies and individuals during her tenure in the country. In her last role, Gray was an Account Manager for A Communications, a 360-degree marketing agency, where she managed numerous hospitality clients across the Middle East region, as well as high-level foreign ministries from Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Prior to that, Gray was an Editorial And Events Coordinator at Forbes Middle East and talent manager at Curveball Events and Talent Management, where she worked closely with popular radio presenter, Kris Fade. In 2015, she completed her Bachelor's Degree in Communications Management from the University of Pretoria.Gray added: “Rixos Bab Al Bahr is already a well-oiled machine when it comes to marketing, with a range of exciting offerings and activities available to guests. Our iconic property is truly the ultimate destination in Ras Al Khaimah and I am looking forward to strategically expanding our presence both regionally and internationally.”

UAE on track to record strongest annual GDP growth in over a decade

The latest in a series of quarterly economic reports released by Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, reveals the UAE economy is on track to record its strongest annual GDP growth since 2011 – with Oxford Economics predicting growth of 6.8% for 2022 – a significant increase in the recorded actual growth of 3.8% in 2021.According to the Q3 2022 State of the UAE Retail Economy report, the oil and non-oil sectors both played essential roles – with the biggest GDP driver being the oil sector, which saw a 13.4% increase driven by crude oil prices hovering around USD 100 per barrel for most of the third quarter. The non-oil economy also demonstrated robust growth, buoyed by the Government’s moves to create an investor-friendly environment, with a strong focus on both digital and creative industries, the results of which are reflected in the S&P Global UAE Purchasing Managers’ Index – which hit a three-year high in August.While inflation remains top of mind for many consumers, there has been a decrease in the level of concern over the quarter, with 92% of residents still expressing some concern but saying they are adjusting to the new norm by practising caution in their purchasing. This is evidenced by the economic data showing that increasing results are being achieved across all key sectors of the economy.The sharp rise of e-commerce continues, with sales projected to rise by 22% this year, exceeding USD 6 billion and putting the market on track to reach USD 9.2 billion by 2026. Spending in this area increased 34% in January-September compared with the same period a year earlier, with sales now accounting for 11% of total retail economy sales. The UAE’s strong economic indicators and investment-focused policy updates continue to attract international interest, while the ESG agenda continues to increase in public and private sectors' strategic viewpoints. The introduction of the new laws has seen plastic bag usage at Majid Al Futtaim retail outlets fall by 85% in the first three months, despite a 10% increase in customer visits. Reaching net zero by 2050 will put the UAE ahead of nearly every other nation in the region. The outcome is a robust and resilient retail economy, and a real estate market has defied global economic gravity.Alain Bejjani, Chief Executive Officer at Majid Al Futtaim – Holding, said: “Another strong quarter for the UAE retail economy showcases notable sector-wide resilience and reinforces the country’s steady march towards a return to sustainable growth. The continuation of forward-thinking government initiatives underpinning this progress is making the UAE highly attractive to international businesses – as are the Government’s steps to become a sustainability leader in the MENA region. With all indicators pointing to a strong fourth quarter this year, and the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, the UAE has put the pandemic-related turbulence firmly in the rear-view. We only need to consider the ongoing opportunity, security, and safety this nation offers to see why the world continues to flock to the region to build their future here.”Travel and tourism visitors have returned and are now spending more than before the pandemic-induced turbulence. As restrictions continue to ease, the pent-up demand for travel has been unleashed – with Dubai experiencing a 182% year-on-year rise in international visitors between January to August. Hotels have been a big beneficiary of increasing tourist arrivals, with the number of occupied room nights rising by 28% on the year in January to August and 17% above pre-COVID-19 levels from 2019, at just under 24 million.The research also indicates that business continues to boom for the UAE real estate market, with Dubai recording the most robust performance between January and September since 2011. Transactions saw a 60% jump compared with a year earlier and a 14% rise in the quarter to 25,500, climbing by 77% to AED 184 billion this year, setting new records for both metrics.Majid Al Futtaim’s Consumer and Business Insights (CBI) Initiative authored the report, drawingon The Happiness Lab – Majid Al Futtaim’s market research online community in three main markets (the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt), in addition to over 797 million point-of-sale (POS) transactions totalling more than AED 182 billion from over five million shoppers from multiple sources (Majid Al Futtaim’s own data and POS data), and reports by respected third-party analysts and organisations.Please visit the link below for an explanation of the methodology and sources relating to the data quoted and to read the State of the UAE Retail Economy report for Q3 2022.

Qatar Tourism issues licenses for more than 6,000 Holiday Homes rooms

Qatar Tourism has issued more than 2,500 Holiday Homes licenses for over 6,000 rooms since the launch of the initiative last year, adding to the variety of accommodation options that will be available to visitors during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.The Holiday Homes license ensures that short-term property rentals are regulated to promote a safe and enjoyable experience for those who visit Qatar. Qatar Tourism reviews the quality standards, amenities, health and safety, accessibility criteria, code of conduct and environmental sustainability of properties prior to licensing them for short-term rental. Owners renting to vacationers without a valid license will be fined 200,000 QAR.Commenting on this achievement, Mohammed Al-Ansari, Director of Tourist Licensing at Qatar Tourism, said: “Through the Holiday Homes initiative, Qatar Tourism seeks to contribute to the development of the hospitality sector in the country and ensure diverse offerings are available that suit the needs and budgets of all visitors. We are proud to have licensed more than 6,000 Holiday Homes rooms ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, to provide visitors with peace of mind and allow them to explore Qatar’s varied offerings while enjoying unparalleled hospitality.”To date, a total of 1,800 apartments and 700 villas have been licensed across several areas mainly in The Pearl-Qatar and Lusail City. More than 100 residential units are suitable for people with special needs, and more than 600 residential units are available for families with more than 4 members.Qatar Tourism will continue to monitor the Guest Experience Index (GEI) available on more than 130 global guest reviews platforms to ensure Holiday Homes owners are providing authentic experiences rooted in service excellence to visitors.

Dubai-born burger brand “Pickl” partners with Zayani Foods

Award-winning UAE-born burger brand Pickl is set to launch its first international franchise in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Zayani Foods, the food and beverages arm of Al Zayani Investments Group, has been chosen as the franchise partner and will open the first Pickl branch in the country in December 2022.Founded by Steve Flawith and Nabil Al Rantisi, Pickl launched in Dubai in 2019 and has rapidly grown with 10 locations operating across the UAE. It offers a trifecta menu of grain-fed beef, fresh fried chicken, and plant-based burgers all free from preservatives, hormones, and antibiotics. The brand has been well received by the public and food critics alike, and was crowned Best Burger at the Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2022 and Best Fried Chicken and Restaurant of the Year at the Deliveroo Restaurant Awards 2022. Zayani Foods is looking to replicate that success when bringing Pickl to Bahrain. Chairman of Al Zayani Investments and Zayani Foods Mr. Nawaf Khalid Al Zayani commented: “This is a great opportunity for Zayani Foods to expand its food offering, drawing on our experience of operating the globally recognised brand Costa Coffee since 2019 in the Kingdom of Bahrain. We are honoured to collaborate with the award-winning burger chain, Pickl, and launch its first restaurant outside the UAE. We are looking forward to this exciting new chapter and delight our customers with the multitude of choices and flavours in this segment of the market.” Pickl’s Chief Commercial Officer Ash Griffiths, who worked closely with Zayani Foods to finalise the partnership, stated: “From day one, we have been impressed by the passion and drive demonstrated by Zayani Foods and feel certain that Pickl will be a huge success in Bahrain thanks to their immense expertise.” For his part, Pickl Founder and CEO Steve Flawith said: “Early on, we identified Bahrain as a perfect location for Pickl, given its highly competitive Quick Service Restaurant sector. Bahrain’s residents have the same passion for quality burgers as we do, and we’re sure that Pickl will offer them a premium and fresh fast food experience unlike anything they’ve had before.”Lastly, Zayani Foods Managing Director Mr. Rashed Hamed Al Zayani further added: “We are excited to bring the award-winning burger chain to Bahrain with the first location in the Seef District, offering the Pickl trifecta which includes beef, fresh fried chicken and plant-based burgers”Pickl’s famous fresh fried chicken is available in five spice levels and its range of customisable cheese burgers includes the plant-based “Impossible Cheese Burger” which is suitable for vegetarians. “Impossible” uses 96% less land, 87% less water and 89% fewer greenhouse gases than beef but has the same irresistible taste. Since its launch, Bahraini residents who tried the burger brand when visiting the UAE have eagerly demanded opening the chain in the country, revealed Pickl’s social media team.The introduction of Pickl to Bahrain is the first step in a wide-ranging international franchise campaign that will see the opening of 200 stores in the next five years across the globe.Any Bahraini citizen or resident who find themselves in the UAE starting November 4 are gladly invited to sample Pickl burgers for free in an enticing offer effective until the launch date of Pickl Bahrain by showing their valid CPR at any Pickl restaurant. One per person. Ts&Cs apply.

Alshaya launches Aura loyalty programme in KSA

Alshaya Group (Alshaya), one of the world's leading international franchise operators, has officially launched Aura, its brand-new customer loyalty programme, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The innovative new scheme lets customers redeem points and unlock benefits across a uniquely wide choice of over 70 brands, with points earned both in-store and online. The launch in KSA follows the successful launch of the programme in Qatar, Kuwait and UAE earlier this year, with the number of members already reaching over 1.5 million so far.  John Hadden, Chief Executive Officer, Alshaya Group said: “We’re proud and extremely excited to bring our new, world-class loyalty programme to our customers in the KSA, one of our largest markets. Aura is an exciting new way for us to thank them for their loyalty and let them know that they are special.  “We offer our customers the widest choice of brands and experiences to suit their different preferences. Celebrating our customers’ individuality, and rewarding them, is what Aura is all about. By bringing together all of Alshaya’s well-loved international brands into one programme, we can unlock a personalised world of rewards, experiences and benefits that is unmatched.”  Aura members can earn and redeem points across their favourite brands, access a range of personalised shopping, dining, and lifestyle experiences, and receive priority notification of promotions and sales events across a portfolio that includes H&M, American Eagle, Mothercare, Victoria’s Secret, The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s, Shake Shack, Bath & Body Works, Boots, M·A·C, Pottery Barn, and West Elm. Members also get the chance to earn points through the brands e-commerce sites.  Aura membership is open to everyone aged 18 and above. It is free, quick, and easy to join, and members can use the Aura MENA app to track their benefits and access their rewards. Joining is as simple as downloading the app from the App Store or Google Play or registering for Aura in any participating Alshaya store or restaurant. From fashion to beauty, home furnishings to dining, members collect points every time they spend. Points can be used for future purchases or to access experiences such as a personalised gourmet treat, a bespoke shopping experience or a pampering beauty treatment. For every SAR 10 spent, 10 points are earned on spend across all Alshaya stores and restaurants (excluding Starbucks). The more customers shop with Alshaya brands the more benefits they can unlock. With so many brands in the Aura programme, members can enjoy unmatched opportunities to earn points. Aura Hello is the entry point membership and is for holders of 1 to 5,999 tier points  Aura Star is for holders of 6,000 to 23,999 tier points. Star members will earn points faster: 1.5 x than Hello Aura VIP, the top tier of Aura, starts with 24,000 tier points, gives access to VIP membership benefits, and earns points even faster: 2 x that of Hello Plans are already underway to launch Aura in all Alshaya markets in the GCC and beyond. Aura members will be able to earn and redeem rewards wherever they shop across the GCC, as each of these markets is included in the Aura programme.

Former Google and YouTube executive joins Rise Studios

Rise Studios, the newly-launched entertainment company driving investment in content from regional markets, appoints Diana Baddar as Managing Director for Digital Content and Development to drive the company’s digital content strategy and business. Diana will build relationships with major platforms and identify regional talent, focusing on bridging the gap between long and short-form content. Diana brings two decades of industry experience to Rise Studios, having spent eight years at Google where she spearheaded the growth of YouTube in the MENA and Turkey markets. As the first Head of Women at Google in MENA, she worked closely with regional female content creators to build their channels on the platform. Some of her major accomplishments include relaunching Sesame Street in Arabic after a 20-year hiatus; launching YouTube Space Dubai, an official blog and portal for creators in MENA, and achieving a Guinness World Record for the most viewers of an Iftar Livestream on YouTube. Prior to her work at Google, she directed the business development and affiliate channels at OSN, establishing new opportunities for OSN, Disney, Discovery and E! Entertainment. She also worked on the launch of OSN’s first VOD platform, OSN+.Watan Network, one of the largest multi-channel networks in the Arab world with over 5 billion combined views monthly on YouTube, Facebook and Snap, is already part of the Rise Studios group with certified partnerships in place with YouTube, Daily Motion and Facebook. The network supports original content owners with monetising their content, protecting their copyrights and building business strategies. Diana will propel the digital content strategy through Watan Network, in conjunction with the major platforms, by using into her network of content creators to develop untapped regional stories. She will also lead talent identification for long and short-form content, bridging the gap between TV and digital platforms.Commenting on the appointment, Amanda Turnbull, CEO of Rise Studios said: “We are ecstatic about welcoming Diana onboard. She brings exceptional digital knowledge to the business with over 20 years’ experience in our industry. She is perfectly positioned to drive our digital content strategy for the business, championing the rich talent we have in the region.”Diana Baddar said: “It gives me great pleasure to be working alongside industry veterans with such a clear mission: to work closely with our community of creators to showcase their talent to the world, delivering a lean-forward entertainment experience for viewers.”

LinkedIn: 76% of UAE executives worried about global economic uncertainty

Executives are forced to make tough choices that threaten recent progress around skills development, employee wellbeing, and flexibilityLinkedIn research finds that these decisions aren’t made lightly with 57% of UAE-based companies holding back on making benefit cuts to maintain productivityLeaders say keeping employees motivated and engaged is among their top workforce priorities over the next six months Dubai, UAE: As the world emerges from the Great Reshuffle and enters an era of economic uncertainty, employee flexibility and benefits introduced during the pandemic are now at risk. New C-level research from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, finds that the current global climate is slowing down progress in important areas of working life such as skills development (93%), employee wellbeing (89%), and flexible work (76%) across UAE businesses.The LinkedIn study, surveying 2,900+ C-level executives from large companies across the world, shows that leaders are still grappling with flexible working measures. In the UAE, while 77% of executives believe that flexible work conditions will remain for the next five years at least, over three-quarters of them express concern that the prevailing economic uncertainty could push back the progress on flexibility that’s been made as leaders look to bring back employees to the office.This sentiment has already gained ground, with 44% of executives saying they plan on reducing remote and flexible working roles. There are also plans to reduce investments in financial support and professional development programs for employees (29%), as management prioritizes financial preparedness over the next six months to weather economic uncertainty and save costs (51%).This has resulted in a disconnect between company policies and employee preferences, and the difficult decisions that executives have been forced to make are taking a toll with 35% admitting to feelings of guilt over these decisions, and some going as far as experiencing imposter syndrome (36%) as their most valuable assets, their people, take a hit. Employee commitment is crucial to getting through tough timesThese decisions aren’t made lightly – with 57% of those who do not plan to cut costs saying they are holding back on making cuts to maintain workforce morale and productivity. In anticipation of challenging times globally, leaders say keeping employees motivated and engaged is among their top workforce priorities over the next six months. As a short-term remedy, some employers have sought to alleviate financial pressures on their employees by granting incentives through subsidized commuting costs (46%), or by offering direct financial wellbeing assistance (38%) to address the rising living costs.Additionally, UAE executives say that they will prioritize workplace mobility such as giving employees opportunities to move into different roles within the organization (41%) - as opposed to a global average of 34%. Employees who make an internal move are more likely to stay at their organization longer than those who stay in the same role.Leading for the timesAs companies navigate uncertainty, one area of agreement is clear - communication is critical. It’s the top soft skill leaders identified as necessary to get through this time, followed by creative thinking, problem-solving, and empathy. In fact, the soft skills of problem-solving, communication, and strategy were featured in 78% of jobs posted globally on LinkedIn over the last three months.60% of UAE business leaders believe a democratic management style to be key to increasing the motivation level of employees; a rather progressive approach compared to other key markets around the world. Thus, rather than making decisions at the top level before cascading them down to employees, leaders need to build bridges with their employees and include them in their decision-making journey. Ali Matar, Head of LinkedIn MENA and Venture Markets, said: “As we have seen in the last couple of years, flexible working and learning and development have become important elements in ensuring business resilience. These policies are essential to building diverse and robust teams that can adapt to a fast-changing world.He added: “While difficult decisions undoubtedly have to be made - it’s important to remember that people are a company’s most valuable asset, and protecting their wellbeing is vital to getting through this time. Employers that invest in their people during these times will be the ones that come out stronger.”More than half of the surveyed c-suite leaders believe it is currently more difficult to adopt a long-term approach to their workforce planning, however they identified key areas that they plan to implement to increase resilience in their workforce: Gradually introduce more opportunities for employees to develop their skills (51%), open up communication channels for improvement (46%) and for collaboration (43%), and encourage mental health & wellbeing (44%).LinkedIn also advises leaders to:? Take an adaptive leadership approach - Leaders must be transparent about the current reality and adapt to what lies ahead, whilst providing employees with clarity on short-term business priorities. They should see this period as an opportunity to iterate and adjust, which will stand them in good stead when the cycle ends. ? Maintain workforce connection and trust - Today, just 43% of employers encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst employees. By helping employees to build connections with their colleagues, employers can energize their teams and strengthen their company culture. Furthermore, returning to command and control styles of leadership and dictating that employees must be in the office will quickly erode trust. ? Focus on skills - The skill sets needed for jobs has changed by around 25% since 2015 and this number is expected to double by 2027. By understanding the skills your employees have today, and the skills your company needs in the future, companies can hire or redeploy talent into growth areas. To help professionals discover opportunities that match their workplace preferences, LinkedIn has introduced new ways for workers to search for remote, hybrid or in-person roles through LinkedIn Job Search features. To help people and businesses manage remote and hybrid work, LinkedIn has made a number of LinkedIn Learning courses available for free until November 30th - including Hybrid Working Foundations, Level Up Your Remote Team Experience, and Enhance Productivity in a Hybrid Work Environment. LinkedIn has also published its Global Talent Trends report which provides leaders with insight into how labor market trends are affecting employees and workplaces.

Amazon Payment Services shares insights into the future of payments

Amazon Payment Services, a regional leader in digital payments operating across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with a mission to empower online businesses with a simple, affordable, and trusted payment experience, addressed an audience of fintech innovators and business leaders at Seamless Saudi Arabia 2022 to share insights into the evolution of cashless payments in Saudi Arabia. Amazon Payment Services’ participation as a Platinum Sponsor at Seamless Saudi Arabia is in line with its commitment to engaging with the fintech and business communities in the Kingdom.A holistic payments solution, Amazon Payment Services supports merchants beyond payments through its extended services portfolio, advanced technologies, value-added services and a strong and growing network of partners throughout the region. Combining intimate knowledge of markets across MENA with Amazon’s global expertise, Amazon Payment Services has driven innovation in the payments sphere to facilitate millions of secure transactions across the region to date.In a presentation titled “Reimaging Payments for Today’s Saudi Consumer”, Mona Alsemayen, Country Head for strategy and growth in Saudi Arabia of Amazon Payment Services, highlighted how Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and a strong infrastructure for the digital economy in the Kingdom has been a catalyst for growth in the digital payments sphere across multiple industry verticals, with cashless payments overtaking cash for the first time in 2021 to represent 62% of transactions across all sectors.“As a result of government initiatives and industry trends, Saudi Arabia has shown a rapid evolution of digital payment and lending methods over the past few years, making the country a hotspot for Fintech players and banks that are open for development and cooperation. Today’s Saudi consumer wants choice, convenience, speed and security, but above all, they want a smooth, seamless payments experience that mirrors their day-to-day online interactions. Keeping the customer at the core of our focus and working backwards to address their needs, Amazon Payment Services is partnering with the government, merchants and the financial sector to advance the payments experience in Saudi Arabia,” Alsemayen said.Also contributing to the discussion at Seamless Middle East 2022, Mohamed Imtiyaz, Head of Business Development, Amazon Payment Services, participated in a keynote panel on the topic of “Pioneering the next generation of online retail with a ‘one-stop shop’ marketplace,” in which he highlighted how the digital marketplace of tomorrow is an interconnected landscape where different payment methods merge and overlap, helping to establish a seamless and fully embedded use case for all stakeholders.“Online marketplaces are increasingly looking for payment service providers which provide a seamless payment infrastructure in addition to offering added value by increasing checkout conversion with a wider choice of affordable payment options like BNPL and instalments. At the same time, they are looking to increase their reach by tapping into the vast opportunities offered by digitally native Gen Z and millenial consumers,” Imtiyaz said.Among the key solutions Amazon Payment Services displayed at Seamless Saudi Arabia 2022 was Installments, a highly targeted and tailored solution that breaks down large purchases into easy monthly payments that is proven to increase sales by 10-15% across average basket sizes, and rounded holistic solutions such as PrivateLink, a multi-solution product designed to increase security, improve the payment experience and success rate, and reduce data egress costs for merchants.

L’Oreal to be beauty sponsor for Red Sea International Film Festival

The Red Sea International Film Festival announced that L’Oréal Group will be the Festival’s beauty sponsor for this year’s edition with its two brands: L’Oréal Paris and L’Oréal Professionnel, respectively the makeup and hair partner for Festival guests, as well as hosting beauty suites at the hotels that will serve local and international talent.The Red Sea International Film Festival attracts talent and entries from across the world, with a particular focus on fostering Arab cinema. The Festival delivers a world-class event for its guests and for the people of Saudi Arabia. The partnership with a global company like L’Oréal Group supports the Festival’s international remit, providing high-quality beauty services on a par with the high caliber of film talent at the Festival.Mohammed Al Turki, CEO of the Red Sea International Film Festival, commented: “We are thrilled to welcome one of the world's leading beauty brands, L'Oréal Paris and L’Oréal Professional as an official sponsor of our second edition. The brand is a huge supporter of the cinema, celebrating and shining the spotlight on female voices in the industry, and we are grateful for their support.”L’Oréal Group is a leading beauty company, with over 110 years of history and 36 brands in over 150 countries. Their mission is to offer world-class, quality beauty products to men and women worldwide, meeting the infinite diversity of beauty desires and cultures. L’Oréal Paris and L’Oréal Professionnel committed to fulfilling this mission ethically and responsibly.Laurent Duffier, CEO of L’Oréal Middle East added, “We are honoured to be sponsoring the Red Sea International Film Festival, arguably the biggest cinematic event in the Arab world. At L’Oréal Group, we are committed to serving diversity in beauty, just as the Film Festival showcases diversity in cinematic talent. We look forward to working with the talent and stars on the red carpet.”The Red Sea International Film Festival will take place in Jeddah from 1st to 10th December 2022.

Output expands sharply in October: Qatar Financial Centre PMI

The latest Purchasing Managers’ Index™ (PMI™) survey data from Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) signalled an overall moderation in the non-oil private sector at the start of the fourth quarter. The rate of expansion in total activity remained marked, however, as firms prepare for an influx of sales in anticipation of the FIFA World Cup. New orders eased while purchasing activity also cooled. Meanwhile, firms trimmed their headcounts to a record degree in an effort to save on costs. Prices data signalled improving profitability with a near-record uplift in selling charges alongside only a marginal increase in input costs.Expectations were meanwhile boosted by the fast-approaching World Cup with sentiment at a two-year high in October. The Qatar PMI indices are compiled from survey responses from a panel of around 450 private sector companies. The panel covers the manufacturing, construction, wholesale, retail, and services sectors, and reflects the structure of the non-energy economy according to official national accounts data.The headline Qatar Financial Centre PMI is a composite single-figure indicator of non-energy private sector performance. It is derived from indicators for new orders, output, employment, suppliers’ delivery times and stocks of purchases.At 48.4 in October, down from 50.7 in September, the latest PMI pointed to a moderation in non-energy private sector business conditions. The latest result brought an end to 27 successive months of growth. That said the headline figure was only marginally below the 50.0 neutral value.Central to the deterioration was a cooling of new orders which fell for the second month in a row. The slowdown was more notable than that seen in the previous survey period. In contrast, output expanded at a marked and above trend pace amid efforts to boost output ahead of the World Cup at the end of November.The sustained moderation in new orders led non-energy companies in Qatar to scale back on their purchasing activity. The rate of decline was sharp, but softer than the contractions seen during the height of the pandemic.Softer inflows of new work allowed firms in Qatar's non-energy sector to progress existing backlogs. The rate of contraction was among the sharpest in the survey's history.Subsequently, firms cut their staffing levels at the start of the quarter thereby signalling three successive months of job shedding. The rate of decrease was sharp and the quickest in the survey's more than five-and-a-half-year history.Turning to prices, overall input prices rose for the third month running. A renewed uptick in purchase costs drove the latest increase. The rate of inflation was only marginal, however, amid a fall in staff costs.Firms in turn raised their selling prices sharply, and at the third-quickest rate in the survey's history, behind that seen only in the previous survey period and November 2021. According to panel comments, firms hiked charges to capitalise on greater tourist activity.Looking ahead, firms were widely upbeat about their output expectations over the year ahead. Firms were hopeful that the FIFA World Cup would have a positive impact on output growth.Financial sector activity continues to expand sharplyActivity expands for the sixteenth month in successionNew business rises marginally in OctoberSentiment remains firmly in positive territoryThe latest PMI data on Qatar's financial services sector signalled a further marked improvement during October, with business activity now increasing in each month since July 2021. The rate of output growth was robust and much quicker than the long-run series average.New orders rose again, as has been the case since June 2020. The rate of growth was the softest for 15 months, however.Qatari financial service firms continued to cut their headcounts, although the rate of reduction was only slight. Firms remained optimistic that activity growth would continue over the next 12 months.Prices data highlighted a slight decrease in input costs in October alongside a marginal reduction in selling charges.CommentYousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, Chief Executive Officer, QFC Authority:"The start of the fourth quarter revealed a cooling of business conditions in Qatar's non-energy sector. While output continued to expand robustly, firms reported a further softening in new orders. Subsequently, businesses were keen to make efficiency gains where they could and reduced their buying activity during the month. There were also efforts to scale back headcounts which reduced at the quickest rate in the survey's history."Looking ahead, the FIFA World Cup begins at the end of November and will bring with it a large influx of tourist activity to Qatar. Sustained increases in output suggest businesses are geared up for a busy four weeks of trading. There are also hopes that the sporting event will have a favourable impact on the country over the next 12 months with sentiment improving to a two-year high."-Ends-

RAK Properties records AED 289.58mln in revenue during Q3 2022

 RAK Properties achieved stable financial results during the third quarter of 2022, and achieved a net profit of AED 27.55 million throughout this period. The company’s’ revenue reached AED 289.58 million, and total assets were recorded at AED 6.24 billion in the third quarter, an increase from AED 6.21 billion recorded in December 2021.InterContinental Ras Al Khaimah Mina Al Arab Resort & Spa assumed operations during the aforementioned period, adding significant profit and value to the company's revenue stream. The group currently focuses its efforts on curating another state-of-the-art hospitality project to add to its expansive portfolio - the Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort. The much anticipated hotel is currently progressing at a significant pace.H.E. Abdul Aziz Abdullah Al Zaabi, Chairman of RAK Properties, said: "We are pleased to announce our financial results this quarter, which reflect the company's ability to adapt to the current competitive business climate. We will continue to develop exquisite residential and hotel projects to meet the needs of the real estate market. This sector continues to show great growth potential, providing the best value to investors and shareholders alike”.Sameh Al Muhtadi, RAK Properties’ CEO also stressed that RAK Properties is eager to continue to provide the Emirate with exceptional residential destinations, providing residents a comfortable, safe and modern lifestyle according to the highest global standards.He added: “Construction started and progressing as per development plan at Gateway Residence II project, a luxury waterfront residential tower at Hayat Island. RAK Properties has also announced contract award and project construction of Bay Residence Phase 1.”RAK Properties announced future developments plans, with Bay Residence Phase 2, a set of additional 2 Towers will be launched soon. Marbella Extension, a residential villa in Hayat Island is under review and will be launched soon. RAK Properties also plans to develop 5 plots in Bay Area Projects, in Hayat Island, Mina Al Arab.

DCT – Abu Dhabi showcases new destination campaign at World Travel Market 2022

Experience Abu Dhabi, Find Your Pace will feature at World Travel Market (WTM), welcoming visitors and bringing the destination to life alongside 36 stakeholders and partners, from 7–9 November.The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) will sign a number of strategic partnerships during WTM, and delegates will have the opportunity to maximise their business potential by meeting partnering hotels and attractions.Visitors can unwind and enjoy Abu Dhabi’s living culture, with a celebration of Emirati craftsmanship at the House of Artisans zone, including a perfumery experience that introduces visitors to the fragrances of the emirate. There is also traditional Arabic coffee in the Bait Al Gahwa zone and the Abu Dhabi Senses Journey at the stand’s Cultural zone.Abu Dhabi will enable WTM visitors to experience the top sites and attractions throughout Yas Island, Saadiyat Island, Al Ain, Al Dhafra region and beyond. Attendees will experience how Abu Dhabi offers something for every visitor, available 365 days a year, at your own pace – with rich cultural history, natural beaches, unrivalled family fun and world-class sports offerings.Enriching destination experiences that excite, inspire and restore are showcased within an immersive stand experience that will host Q&As with global sports partners, including Manchester City and the UFC – with a special guest appearance from Batman, courtesy of Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi.Also on display, Abu Dhabi Calendar has partnered with the world’s best artists, entertainers and sports franchises for a 2022/2023 winter season to remember. Events range from live concerts with international stars Sting and Andrea Bocelli, as well as urban music festival Wireless, making its Abu Dhabi debut in March 2023.Other exciting events in Abu Dhabi Calendar include Disney’s The Lion King, as seen on Broadway and now making its debut in the Middle East, as well as Abu Dhabi Culinary Season – the emirate’s annual celebration of food. This all follows the first NBA Abu Dhabi Games which took place in October this year, followed by the return of Abu Dhabi Showdown Week, in partnership with the UFC.

Abu Dhabi welcomes visitors to discover experiences at their own pace

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has unveiled its latest campaign: Experience Abu Dhabi. Find Your Pace. The campaign shares the variety of experiences that inspire, excite and restore, welcoming the world to come and enjoy memorable moments that matter – in their own way, and at their own pace.Experience Abu Dhabi shows the seamless connections between a wealth of cultural heritage, alongside exciting experiences. Yas Island welcomes the world with year-round theme park action and waterfront attractions, with events and entertainment for families and all ages. Only 15 minutes away, Saadiyat Island is filled with living culture, home to Louvre Abu Dhabi’s timeless inspiration and unforgettable architecture.Located at the heart of the island, Saadiyat Cultural District hosts community events and exhibitions at Manarat Al Saadiyat, alongside Berklee Abu Dhabi, the pre-eminent institute of contemporary music and the performing arts. The district is also the future home of the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum, and the immersive art of teamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi. Nearby, pristine beaches and coastal avenues are lined with cafes and dining options at Mamsha Al Saadiyat, to enjoy over a breathtaking sunset.Just over an hour from these remarkable island experiences, Abu Dhabi invites visitors to ignite their curiosity by visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites in Al Ain, experience adventure and tranquillity among the desert dunes, and embrace Abu Dhabi’s fascinating past with iconic museums and ancient forts.The campaign welcomes the world to enjoy Abu Dhabi’s enriching experiences at their own pace, with:Cultural inspiration: past, present and future Explore the nation’s living memorial and the narrator of Abu Dhabi’s history, Qasr Al Hosn, an 18th-century stone building in the heart of city.  It is also home to the House of Artisans, which celebrates Emirati heritage and enduring tradition of craftsmanship. Within the same day, you can discover inspiration at Louvre Abu Dhabi, through stunning architecture, art collections and artefacts.Back-to-nature moments that restore body and soulFrom stargazing and glamping at Jebel Hafit Desert Park to walking the shaded oasis pathways in the garden city of Al Ain, visitors can also enjoy the sun-kissed beaches of Saadiyat Island, take in wildlife safaris on Sir Bani Yas Island and escape to the tranquil desert serenity of the Empty Quarter.Excitement for everyone, all year roundAbu Dhabi’s sandscapes offer endless opportunities for dune buggies and sand surfing, while the thrills of the world’s largest indoor theme park, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi on Yas Island, will create memories to last a lifetime. Minutes away discover the world-famous Yas Marina F1 Circuit and indoor adventures at CLYMB and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. A calendar of events for everyone to enjoyAbu Dhabi is a global hub for events, with an action-packed calendar that has something for everyone to enjoy. Recently hosting the first-ever NBA games in the region, as well as sold-out UFC and WBA boxing title fights, Abu Dhabi also enchanted families and younger visitors with the Middle East debut of the internationally renowned Broadway show, Disney’s The Lion King musical, as well as the captivating Disney on Ice.Looking ahead, music lovers have so much to get excited about, with performances by Andrea Bocelli, Post Malone, Imagine Dragons, Blackpink, Sting and John Legend, with Kendrick Lamar and Swedish House Mafia headlining concerts at the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Pictured below: the peaceful Al Ain Oasis, indoor fun at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, and wildlife safaris on Sir Bani Yas Island. With so many experiences that inspire, excite and restore, there is something for everyone in Abu Dhabi and so much waiting to be discovered, at your own pace. Start planning your trip now at:

MoIAT unveils first 13 Technology Transformation Program projects

The Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) today announced the launch of the first 13 of 1,000 technology projects that will be implemented under the recently announced Technology Transformation Program. Launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the program is designed to supercharge the UAE’s industrial transformation and help turn the country into a global hub for Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies and industries of the future.The new projects, revealed at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) 2022, are being executed by major national and international champions, such as Etisalat, Cisco, PTC, Oryx Data, and One Moto. The companies are proactively accelerating the pace of technological transformations across the UAE’s priority sectors, contributing to the development of a knowledge- and innovation-based economy.  The program will attract major international companies to test innovations in the country’s supportive environment, reinforcing the UAE’s position as a leading destination for tech and innovation. The UAE is inviting tech firms from around the world to engage with its innovation ecosystem under the Technology Transformation Program.Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology said: “The projects announced today mark the first step in the Technology Transformation Program, which will support our national priorities and the development of key sectors in the coming decades. The launch of this program represents the beginning of a new phase of national competitiveness and sustainable industrial growth in the UAE, enabled and driven by R&D and advanced technology.”“At the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, we have a clear roadmap for the next 10 years. It is a decade in which the UAE will further enhance its position as a global hub for science, technology, and innovation, in line with our leadership’s vision. Our partners are key to this journey and we are committed to exploring collaborations with all companies that seek to join the UAE in its bold technological and industrial transformation.” First 13 of 1,000 projectsThe new projects will have a significant impact on the companies in which they are implemented. By leveraging advanced technologies and Fourth Industrial Revolution solutions, businesses will be able to significantly reduce energy consumption and wastage, enhance efficiency, and increase productivity as well as competitiveness in global markets.The Technology Transformation Program also presents an opportunity for national and international champions looking to play a leading role in the country’s industrial journey. MoIAT is inviting these champions to join the program to benefit from its projects, as well as support smaller businesses on their own technology transformations. Businesses in the UAE can apply through MoIAT to participate in and benefit from the projects.Cisco’s project is currently supporting three local companies – Emirates Macaroni Factory, National Paints and Falconpack – in their digital transformation journeys. Under its Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) program, Cisco will focus on the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) to provide companies with enhanced security, visibility, and connectivity. This project aims at driving digital transformation across the national industrial establishments in the UAE, which is an essential pillar in Cisco’s CDA program in the country.The projects are also focusing on leveraging IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things). PTC is offering 25 companies free access to its IIoT platform, ThingWorx, which will enable companies to increase their manufacturing efficiency through ensuring asset optimization, workforce productivity, quality improvement and speed to industrialization. The platform can increase throughput by up to 20 percent, reduce unplanned downtime by up to 30 percent, and reduce energy consumption by up to 13 percent, according to PTC.Additionally, one of the country’s largest telecoms groups, Etisalat, is building a platform for industry 4.0 technologies. The company is deploying 4IR proof of concept projects within the manufacturing sector, working alongside companies to support the adoption of advanced technologies.Meanwhile, Oryx Data Incubator, a start-up specializing in real-time streaming and IIoT solutions, is working with Ittihad Paper Mill and Strata to enhance operations. This particular project will help to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent and will lead to 100 percent machine availability along with the prediction of 93 percent of potential failures.Finally, a global mobility company, One Moto, is working on a project to build the UAEs first electric vehicle (EV) assembly, and eventually manufacturing, facility in Dubai as part of its mission to electrify all last-mile vehicles in the UAE by 2024. The firm has set up its global HQ in DIFC and plans to target 100 cities by 2024.Technology Transformation ProgramThe Technology Transformation Program was announced in October by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. The project is aligned with the National Strategy for Industry and Advanced Technology, which supports the industrial sector’s digital transformation as part of the strategy’s objective to increase the sector’s contribution to GDP.The new program aims to boost exports of technological products by around AED 15 billion a year. The program will add AED 110 billion to GDP annually and drive AED 11 billion in technology investments. By automating the industrial sector, the program will also help to increase industrial productivity by AED 15 billion annually.       ADIPEC 2022ADIPEC is one of the world’s most influential gatherings for energy industry professionals. ADIPEC 2022 aims to accelerate the energy transition, unlock real value in a decarbonized future, showcase ground-breaking technologies and explore actionable strategies and solutions to the challenges and opportunities created by complex global energy market dynamics. Almost 30 countries are exhibiting at the event in addition to around 2,200 companies. 150,000 participants are participating at ADIPEC from 31 October to 3 November.

Future Leaders Programme' launched at ADIPEC 2022

The Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) 2022, witnessed at its fourth and final day the launch of the “Future Leaders Programme”, which aims to shed light on future leaders in the energy sector.The programme kicked off with an insightful Leaders Q&A session with Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, alongside Haitham Al Ghais, Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), who shed light on the starting point of their journey, challenges and lessons learned on their way to the top, and shared advice for the leaders of the future.Al Mazrouei said, "At the fundamental level, the ingredients of success are values. Values create professionalism and ultimately great nations. Everyone will have different opportunities depending on how much they believe in these values.”Touching on the importance of collaboration, he continued, “You don’t have to solve these challenges by yourself, look for teamwork. In the UAE, we are working towards a common goal, to make this country the best in the world. But to do this you cannot just think about this country or this region, but the entire world.”“We are fortunate to have the whole world convening here at ADIPEC discussing innovative solutions. The youth have technology at their fingertips and can access unlimited knowledge. Learning stops only when your mind stops” he concluded.For his part, Al Ghais echoed the importance of continuous learning. “Learning should never stop, and young people should say yes to any challenges. They need to think positively of all challenges and to make the most of them. Being open-minded, accepting challenges, as well as learning from other people is key to succeeding," he said.He continued, “It is very important that you learn from everybody in the company, no matter of their level. Myself, for example, I have learned so much from my young staff because they see the world differently, it’s a new perspective.”“The challenges you face today may be more complex, but we believe that you have more capabilities to deal with these challenges than we used to,” Al Ghais concluded.Participants also heard from industry decision makers on the key skills, experience and knowledge the next generation of energy professionals will need to navigate the energy transition and meet the global demand for energy, the challenges and obstacles faced by young talent entering the workforce, and the role they can play in the transformation of the industry.

The Saudi Music Commission appoints Paul Pacifico as Chief Executive Officer

The Saudi Music Commission announced today the appointment of Paul Pacifico as Chief Executive Officer, where he will be responsible for developing the Kingdom’s music sector in line with the National Culture Strategy.Mr Pacifico will assume his new role at the Commission from January 2023, continuing a distinguished career marked by extensive knowledge and experience in the fields of music creativity, entrepreneurship, policy, and education. Over the past six years, Mr Pacifico served as CEO of the Association of Independent Music (AIM), where he led the representation of the UK’s independent music sector including music entrepreneurs, independent labels, service companies, distributors, and artists. During his time at AIM, he initiated the Music Climate Pact, developed with the support of the UN Environment Programme, which brought together key industry leaders to take collective action to reduce the music sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate its contribution to global climate change, and ignite action on the climate crisis.Prior to that, he was CEO of the UK’s Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) and the founding president of the International Artist Organization (IAO), working on uniting music artists organizations from all over the world. Mr Pacifico is Associate Professor at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain and has served on the boards of English National Ballet, UK Music, Creative UK (formerly the Creative Industries Federation) and the Music Advisory Board of London’s Roundhouse, as well as international music organisations IMPALA (Europe) and the Worldwide Independent Network (‘WIN’). In April this year, Mr Pacifico was recognized as one of the top executives in the global music sector in Billboard’s 2022 International Power Players List.Commenting on his appointment, Mr Pacifico said, “Time and time again, music has been shown to be a powerful and sustainable enabler across both cultural and commercial development. It is truly remarkable to see the level of support and the pace of change within Saudi Arabia as it builds a strong music sector for all to participate in. The opportunity to help in that journey is a huge privilege. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Music Commission to build a vibrant, inclusive and effective music sector as a key part of the ongoing cultural transformation in the Kingdom, led by the Ministry of Culture."The Saudi Music Commission is one of 11 sector-specific commissions under the Ministry of Culture. It was launched in 2020 to oversee the development of the Kingdom’s music sector.  The Commission aims to enrich the music sector in the Kingdom and develop its ecosystem through building world-class infrastructure, providing universal access to music education, empowering musical talent, creating job opportunities, and increasing the sector’s contribution to the economy.

Americana offers 30% of its shares for subscription

Americana Restaurants International Plc today announced its intention to proceed with an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and to list its shares for trading on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) and the Saudi Stock Exchange through a concurrent dual listing process.Adeptio Investments AD Ltd. (Selling Shareholder) intends to offer 2,527,089,930 existing ordinary shares of Americana Restaurants (Offer Shares), representing 30% of the total issued share capital of Americana Restaurants, in a public and concurrent Offering on ADX in the UAE and on the Saudi Exchange in Saudi Arabia. The net proceeds of the Offering will be received by the Selling Shareholder.The Offering is expected to run from 14th November 2022 until 21st November 2022 for retail investors in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and from 14th November 2022 until 22nd November 2022 for institutional investors.Admission of the Offer Shares to trading on ADX and the Saudi Exchange is expected to take place on or around 6th December 2022.Completing the Offering and Admission is subject to market conditions and obtaining all necessary relevant regulatory approvals in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.Americana Restaurants was previously operated by Kuwait Food Company (Americana) K.S.C.C, under the wider Americana umbrella, which included both Restaurant and Food businesses. The Initial Public Offering is for the Restaurant business only.The Company is registered and incorporated in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and is subject to the ADGM Companies Regulations 2020 (as amended). The Selling Shareholder owns 96% of the total issued share capital of Americana Restaurants and is the jointly-held investment vehicle of Mohamed Ali Rashed Alabbar, Founder of Emaar Properties, and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF).Commenting on the launch of the IPO process, Americana Restaurants' Chairman, Mohamed Ali Rashed Alabbar, said, "It gives us great pleasure to announce the start of our IPO process, a major milestone in our fifty-plus year history. We are proud of the fact that Americana Restaurants is a GCC-born food and beverage champion, which has grown to be the single largest player in the MENA region and Kazakhstan."Led by an experienced and deeply committed management team, Americana Restaurants has earned a reputation of being a stand-out operator of iconic global brands, with best-in-class digital capabilities, and a track record of breakthrough financial results. Our diversified restaurant platform serves the most popular food categories and delights millions of customers across our 12 countries of operation."He added, "A concurrent dual listing on ADX and the Saudi Exchange marks a first-of-its-kind transaction for both markets, and no company could be better suited than Americana Restaurants to carry this torch. With macroeconomic and demographic tailwinds that support our accelerating growth, this is an exciting time to be inviting investors in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and internationally to share in our onward journey of success."

Serco’s new regional hub opens its doors

Serco, international leader of public services within transport, citizen services and defence were honoured to mark the official opening of Serco's new regional hub in Riyadh with ribbon cutting by Badr AlBadr, Deputy Minister - Ministry of Investment and Neil Crompton, British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.The ceremony was attended by Serco Group CEO, Rupert Soames, Country Director Mona Althagafi, key clients, partners and colleagues.Mona Althagafi commented, ‘we are honoured to be able to celebrate this landmark event. Having our regional hub in Riyadh is strategically vital as we need to be as close to our key customers as possible so that we can continue to offer them the most responsive and innovative services available using global best practice and expertise delivered by our local team. At the same time, we are striving to offer our Saudi team the best possible training and the most rewording work experiences.”Located in the capital’s cosmopolitan Riyadh Front district, the new office comes as part of Serco's long-term strategy to develop its Saudi-based resources. Building on strong foundations which already engage specialist teams with 15% Saudi-national representation in the delivery of high-profile contracts such as EXPRO and Royal Commission of AlUla, Serco anticipates growth in Saudi projects will result in the Kingdom accounting for over 50 per cent of Serco Middle East’s revenues by 2026.The new Riyadh hub will also host ExperienceLab, Serco’s customer insight and service design agency centred around people and innovation. A dedicated space and team have been put in place to help organisations within the Kingdom use the unique understanding of data and insights to design, evolve and adapt services to cater to their end-users and deliver world-class experiences.

Saudi Advertising Creative Leader Mohammed Bahmishan

FP7McCann has announced that Mohammed Bahmishan will join its Saudi agency as both Chief Executive Officer and Chief Creative Officer, effective November 1, 2022. Mr. Bahmishan is an award-winning Saudi creative leader who ranks among the top ten creative leaders in the MENA region, according to the One Club for Creativity in their 2022 Rankings. He has also served as a jury member at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this year.Mr. Bahmishan will lead the FP7 McCann Saudi office based in Riyadh. Current clients comprise a mix of leading Saudi and international companies, including Al Rajhi Bank, Samsung, Tadawul, Aramco, Neom, and SABIC. He is replacing Marc Lawandos, FP7 McCann KSA Managing Director, who has taken on a new role as Executive Director at MCN.Said Tarek Miknas, CEO of FP7 McCann MENAT: “We are thrilled to have Mohammed Bahmishan on board as CEO and Chief Creative Officer. He brings over 20 years of creative and business leadership experience to our operations in Saudi Arabia. One of only a few Saudi creative leaders recognized globally for their award-winning work, his appointment to lead our operations in Saudi reflects our commitment to the Saudi market. Besides his professional caliber, he fits our culture and embodies our values.”Mr. Bahmishan said: “I am excited to be leading such a world-class creative agency in Saudi Arabia, and by working closely with our sister agencies, we will be able to provide full-service communications solutions for our existing and potential clients. From branding and advertising to social media, public relations, media buying, and events, FP7 McCann has an unmatched integrated approach to communications.”Mr. Bahmishan was the first Saudi to be featured at festivals like the Cannes Lions, The One Show, Art Director's Club, EPICA, CLIO, Dubai Lynx, AdFest, New York Festivals, Gerety, Effie's, and Caples. His experience with brands spans both global as well as regional and local Saudi brands including Unilever, Kodak, Volvo, P&G, Ikea, Al-Baik, ARAMCO, Saudia Airlines, McDonald’s, AMC, Almarai, Jeddah Season, Rabea Tea, Savola, and Goody.

Gartner unveils top predictions for IT organizations

Gartner, Inc. today revealed its top strategic predictions for 2023 and beyond. Gartner’s top predictions explore how business and technology leaders can reimagine assumptions and seize the moment to turn uncertainty to certainty.“Uncertainty carries as much opportunity as it does risk,” said Daryl Plummer, Distinguished VP Analyst and Gartner Fellow. “The key to unlocking those opportunities is to reimagine assumptions – especially those rooted in a pre-digital past – around how work is done, how relationships between customers and providers will evolve and how current trends will unfold.“The comforts of consistency are a detriment to the growth of any company seeking to lead in a modern digital world filled with unknowns. This year’s predictions provide a foundation for executive leaders to seize uncertainty, challenge thinking and change expectations while maintaining forward movement.”Gartner analysts presented the top 10 strategic predictions during Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo™, taking place here through Thursday.Through 2027, fully virtual workspaces will account for 30% of the investment growth by enterprises in metaverse technologies and will “reimagine” the office experience.As employees continue to desire more flexible work scenarios, virtual workspaces in metaverses will emerge to support new immersive experiences. Fully virtual workspaces are computer-generated environments where groups of employees can come together using personal avatars or holograms.“Existing meeting solution vendors will need to offer metaverse and virtual workspace technologies or risk being replaced,” said Plummer. “Virtual workspaces deliver the same cost and time savings as videoconferencing, with the added benefits of better engagement, collaboration and connection.”By 2025, without sustainable artificial intelligence (AI) practices, AI will consume more energy than the human workforce, significantly offsetting carbon zero gains.As AI becomes increasingly pervasive and requires more complex machine learning (ML) models, it consumes more data, compute resources and power. If current AI practices remain unchanged, the energy needed for ML training and associated data storage and processing may account for up to 3.5% of global electricity consumption by 2030.Yet as AI practitioners become more aware of their growing energy footprint, sustainable AI practices are emerging, such as the use of specialized hardware to reduce energy consumption, energy efficient coding, transfer learning, small data techniques, federated learning and more.“AI offers huge potential benefits to optimize operational efficiency and sustainability, far outweighing its own footprint,” said Plummer. “Provided it is applied more pervasively and effectively than today, AI could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by five to ten percent.”By 2026, citizen-led denial of service (cDOS) attacks, using virtual assistants to shut down operations, will become the fastest growing form of protest.Protests against businesses and government organizations are increasingly digital. Citizen-led denial-of-service attacks (cDOS) are led by average people rather than hackers, performed through virtual assistants.Gartner predicts that by 2025, 37% of customers will try using a virtual assistant to interact with customer service on their behalf; for example, by waiting on hold for them. These legitimate interactions using virtual assistants will pave the way for protests. By 2024, citizens will shut down a Fortune 500 company’s contact center through denial-of-service attacks launched by virtual assistants.Through 2025, powerhouse cloud ecosystems will consolidate the vendor landscape by 30% leaving customers with fewer choices and less control of their software destiny.The largest cloud service providers (CSPs) are creating ecosystems whereby they and preferred independent software vendors (ISVs) offer a range of pre-integrated and composable services. CSP ecosystems offer the potential for significant productivity gains from simplified sourcing, integration and composability of software components. As CSP ecosystems mature, there will be diminishing need for third-party ISV tools because CSPs can quickly release new features and become fast followers of innovation due to the speed and agility of cloud development.Through 2024, jointly owned sovereignty partnerships sanctioned by regulators will increase stakeholder trust in global cloud brands and facilitate continued IT globalization.As societies become increasingly globally interconnected and dependent upon digital information, more regulations and legislation are emerging from a desire to control and protect citizens and ensure continued availability of critical services. Specifically, governments and commercial regulators are tightening policies regarding the use of non-regional cloud providers for critical or sensitive workloads.“Due to recent geopolitical events and seeing the direct impact that de-platforming sanctions can have, demand for sovereign cloud solutions is evolving,” said Plummer. “Governments and regulators that sanction specific jointly owned approaches of cloud providers with local partners can meet tightened sovereignty requirements while facilitating continued technical globalization.”By 2025, “labor volatility” will cause 40% of organizations to report a material business loss, forcing a shift in talent strategy from acquisition to resilience.Challenges such as the Great Resignation, burnout and quiet quitting continue to challenge business leaders to find, attract, hire and retain talent. Within corporate announcements and financial disclosures, organizations will increasingly highlight material strategic shifts due to the inability to support existing products or services or launch new opportunities because of workforce challenges.“Labor volatility has a direct correlation to enterprise execution and delivery models that impacts financial performance,” said Plummer. “The resiliency dialogue must become a CEO and boardroom conversation, rather than one siloed to HR.”By 2025, shareholder acceptance of moonshot speculative investments will double, making them a viable alternative to traditional R&D spend to accelerate growth.To find advantages amidst uncertainty and volatility, industry leaders are increasingly accepting high-risk technology investments with little-known returns and potential failure, known as “moonshots.”“Winning enterprises have learned the real risk they face is doing too little too late. Adopting antifragile approaches, such as moonshots, allows enterprises to maximize their advantage from disruption by adjusting their risk appetite and raising their tolerance for failure,” said Plummer.By 2027, social media platform models will shift from “customer as product” to “platform as customer” of decentralized identity, sold through data markets.The current paradigm of users having to prove their identity repeatedly across online services is not efficient, scalable or secure. Web3 enables new decentralized identity standards which introduce several disruptive benefits, including giving users more control over which data they share, removing the need for repeated identity proofing across services and supporting common authentication services.By 2025, organizations that remediate documented gender pay gaps will decrease women's attrition by 30%, reducing pressure on talent shortages.Gartner data consistently shows that compensation is a top driver for talent attraction and retention, yet only 34% of employees believe their pay is equitable. There is no generally accepted methodology for calculating pay equity, challenging organizations to identify and account for gender pay gaps. A nascent market is forming for software tools that offer pay equity assessments, with specialist vendors emerging that provide more ways to analyze and model data related to equitable pay.Through 2025, employee value metrics like well-being, burnout, and brand satisfaction will override return on investment (ROI) evaluations in 30% of successful growth investment decisions.Investments in efforts such as employee well-being and customer experience can yield direct financial returns through revenue growth and cost reduction. However, their more significant impacts are often on brand value, reputation and employee and customer acquisition and retention. Such metrics are difficult to quantify in terms of short-term financial gains, but they influence longer-term financial outcomes that drive enterprise value.“Use of traditional ROI models to make investment decisions can discount or completely exclude non-financial benefits. Organizations that use more expansive valuation approaches will shift their investment focus to long-term growth, disruption and innovation,” said Plummer.Gartner clients can read more in “Gartner’s Top Strategic Predictions for 2023 and Beyond —Seizing Uncertainty.”é-purina-petcares-unleashed-accelerator-launches-4th-global-search-for-mos

Nestlé Purina PetCare’s UNLEASHED accelerator launches 4th global search for mos

Unleashed – a program powered by the Purina Accelerator Lab that helps grow disruptive pet care start-ups – has launched its fourth edition calling for the next generation of pet-care businesses to apply by November 30th.Open to new entries from the Middle East and North Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and across Europe, the 2023 program is designed to drive the growth of participants, supporting the development of innovative new pet-care products, in particular data enabled pet owner and vet services, sustainable novel nutrition and well-being technologies. It aims to bring relevant and new products and services to the forefront of the industry, providing an enriching life for pets and their owners.By the end of the 2023 application process, up to nine chosen start-ups will be accelerated for 20 weeks by Unleashed Champions and industry experts. This will include a thorough and structured, fully funded mutually agreed project of up to CHF 50,000 which will help to drive growth.“Unleashed is seen as the best-in-class pet specific accelerator and trusted partner of choice for start-ups. And this is because we have a unique methodology with a team, as well as a whole network of passionate pet-care and pet-tech industry experts to help nurture, support and guide our start-ups towards their business objectives,” said Sergej Pracevi?, Business Executive Officer, Nestlé Purina in the Middle East and North Africa. “We look forward to welcoming more candidates from our region in this upcoming cohort and hope regional start-ups will be among the winners once again.”From its inception in 2019, Unleashed has been the driver of pet-care innovation and has helped to grow and connect the pet start-up ecosystem, providing impactful solutions for pet owners. Unleashed has had over 600 applications from 50 countries, accelerated 18 start-ups and has a roster of success stories. Previously backed entrepreneurs from the MENA region include: PawPots, a Lebanon-based subscription service provider of fresh gently-cooked meals for dogs and cats and Vetwork, a Cairo-based pet care at home veterinary platform operating in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.