Beyond bubbles: Stevi Lowmass on The Camel Soap Factory's sustainable saga

Dive into the extraordinary journey of Stevi Lowmass, the Founder & CEO of The Camel Soap Factory, as she unveils the brand's evolution, challenges overcome, and its impactful presence in the skincare market. From a visionary concept to a sustainable skincare powerhouse, Stevi shares insights on the brand's commitment to local craftsmanship, environmental responsibility, and its strategic shift during the pandemic.Share with us your entrepreneurial journey? What prompted you to launch The Camel Soap Factory?I originally identified a gap in the UAE market for beautiful, local and sustainably crafted gifts for the many tourists that visit the region each year. I wanted to create a space where visitors could actually see and learn about the process of sustainable manufacture. I also wanted to create something to give back to the country that had been her home for so many years.How has been the brand’s journey? You must have faced some obstacles on the way. How did you overcome them?We have had our fair share of struggles in trying to build our brand. In the early days we had to deal with counterfeits and very cheap copies of our product. We’ve changed branding and packaging to make this a lot more difficult.Moving into skincare had its challenges, not the least of which is establishing consumer trust. We firmly believe that the strong reputation of our brand, The Camel Soap Factory, known for delivering the highest quality natural soaps, seamlessly extends to our Rescue Creams.However, some of the most significant challenges we have encountered are the same ones faced by many SMEs in the region. Access to funding remains problematic and accessing working capital to fund growth has been a challenge over the years.Why did you choose the Middle East as the location to launch the Camel Soap Factory, especially considering your extensive experience working in London for many years?The opportunity presented itself in the UAE, where I was residing at that time.How has been the growth of the Camel Soap Factory in the UAE market? How many outlets do you presently have? Does the brand have its online presence as well?The Camel Soap Factory does not have a direct retail presence, but sells via a network of distributors and retailers across the UAE. We are present in most major gift stores, chains such as Carrefour, Spinneys and Waitrose and duty frees.The Camel Soap Factory has a website from which it sells products and works with an online distributor who manages its presence on platforms such as brand has been focusing on sustainability in the Middle East. In what ways are you making it healthier for the environment?At The Camel Soap Factory, our mission is to bring simple honest skincare with its roots in regional traditions and legacy. With the belief that honesty entails benefiting both people and the planet, we have consistently developed new products with a specific focus on minimizing environmental impact and reducing waste. All our soaps are in eco-friendly package and cream in fully-recyclable aluminum bottle. We feel consumers are probably now more ready to try products with less environmental impact. One of the gaps out there is the bathroom waste. Speaking to our customers, many remain unaware of the impact of their bathroom waste on the planet but we find most are ready to listen and willing to try new ways of doing things. We launched shampoo and conditioner bars at the end of 2022. These have a cult following among the converted especially in Europe, but these sorts of products have not yet become mainstream especially in the Middle East.Sustainability is gaining momentum everywhere. What inspired you to pursue the goal of creating a better environment?I have long been concerned about the accumulation of plastic waste in our rivers and oceans, and our vision has been to create simple, natural and effective products with reduced plastic-free packaging. The Covid pandemic forced a major rethink in strategy, and I have steered the company towards new product ranges which fit in with this vision. The brand has subsequently become Dubai’s premier brand of sustainable skincare products made with locally sourced camel milk and other regional ingredients such as frankincence.Are you looking for product expansion and diversification in the brand’s portfolio?The prolonged pause in tourism to the region, and travel in general, especially during the peak of the pandemic, posed significant challenges for us. Our response to the temporary loss of the gift and souvenir market was to expand product lines, embrace e-commerce and to move into FMCG products.Our strongest B2C selling point is still being local and natural. However, our commitment to sustainability and minimizing environmental impact, though significant, is not as widely recognized.Contract manufacturing has become a pivotal element of our strategy. We emphasize low Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) coupled with exceptionally high-quality production.What all marketing strategies have been undertaken by the brand for its success in the UAE? Have you tied up with any PR companies for its success?We leverage fundamental marketing elements for our products, incorporating a robust brand image, visually appealing design, and unique packaging. These are reinforced by consistently positive messaging, emphasizing individual empowerment to make choices that contribute to a positive impact.However, engaging consumers about sustainability when they are not already aware of, and invested in, actions to reduce individual impact on the planet presents a challenge. At The Camel Soap Factory we have a range of strategies employed with the goal of our products being seen, not as marketing gimmicks, but as real solutions to a real crisis.What are your aspirations for the brand five years from now, and what strategies do you plan to implement to achieve those goals?We see ourselves as becoming a brand across the world that is recognized as putting the Gulf on the map for beauty products. Our mission is to bring joy, so that every person who buys or receives one of our products feels that joy!

Department of Community Development launches Sports for All Policy in Abu Dhabi

The Department of Community Development - Abu Dhabi, the regulator of the social sector in the emirate, launched the ‘Sports for All Policy’ that aims to promote physical activity and encourage members of society to practice all kinds of sports.The policy also seeks to establish basic standards to enhance community involvement in sports activities by identifying challenges that hinder certain members of society from participating in such activities. Additionally, it strives to find solutions to these challenges in collaboration with relevant authorities to safeguard individuals' right to engage in sports, while also recognising and promoting traditional sports.All sports entities in the emirate, including those responsible for organising sports events and managing their venues, technical specialists in the field of sports, sports professionals, and all individuals employed in the sports sector in Abu Dhabi, are subject to the policy.Commenting on this, His Excellency Mohamed Helal Al Balooshi, Executive Director of the Community Engagement and Sports Sector at DCD, said: “Maintaining a healthy and active community is one of the most important priorities for the Department of Community Development and the social sector agenda. Therefore, we are dedicated to developing our policies and programmes to consolidate the principles of both physical and mental well-being. Sports play a fundamental role in achieving this and so the Sports for All Policy has been introduced to inspire members of society to embrace an active lifestyle and engage in a diverse range of sports activities.”He added: “Sports are among the community activities that foster community integration and cohesion among members of society. Through the Sports for All Policy, we aim to make sporting activities available to all segments and individuals of society without discrimination, and to encourage groups that might be less active, such as the elderly, to actively engage in sports and community activities. Through this policy, we also aim to streamline the work of specialised agencies and clubs and support them in organising successful and purposeful sports events.”Al Balooshi urged all members of society to embrace an active lifestyle and engage in regular sports activities. Furthermore, he appealed to sports authorities to adopt the policy of sports for all to make sports in Abu Dhabi more inclusive.  The Sports for All Policy includes comprehensive guidelines to physical activity that are aligned with WHO standards. It ensures infrastructure meets the needs of all community members and encourages volunteerism and corporate social responsibility in sport.The policy is dedicated to establishing equality in the right to engage in sports, ensuring that all members of society enjoy the same right to participate in sports activities and access sports facilities and events without any discrimination.The DCD is committed to coordinating with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and other relevant stakeholders to raise the level of sports participation across all segments of the emirate's society, with a focus on supporting groups that need special support and enabling them to practice physical activity and sports easily.

Patty&Bun lands in the Middle East

 Patty&Bun, the burger sensation known to top the best burger list in London, is officially launching in Dubai by Big Belly Hospitality.Set to begin with two cloud kitchen locations in Hessa Street and Mirdif, Patty&Bun will be available via Deliveroo to allow customers across the city to enjoy its signature burgers and milkshakes, marking its official debut outside the UK. A food truck at BoxPark is set to launch within the quarter, followed by a flagship brick-and-mortar location within the year. With a culinary philosophy centered around mastering the basics, Patty&Bun has carved a niche for itself over the last decade by delivering an exceptional, perfectly cooked pink and juicy burger. The widely celebrated brand is known for its aged beef patties, unique smokey mayo, and soft brioche buns, a secret combination behind its rise to fame as it grew from one to eight outlets across London and Brighton. Patty&Bun's UAE launch is poised to bring its classic favourites to Dubai, promising to satisfy those juicy burger cravings like no other in the city. Patty&Bun's menu showcases an array of signature offerings, including the Ari Gold, Smokey Robinson, Jose Jose Chilli Burger, and the Hot Chic burger. Catering to a wide range of palates, the brand introduces fan-favourite plant-based Impossible 'vegan' chicken nuggets, accompanied by an array of sides, sauce pots, and shakes.Big Belly Hospitality was newly formed by Pallav Patel, one of the previous Founders and Owner of the Black Spoon Group, the parent company of renowned restaurants Allo Beirut, Ibn AlBahr, Bombay Bungalow, House of Curry, and Nafas. The complete Black Spoon group and its F&B portfolio were recently acquired by Jadwa Investment, a leading Saudi-based investment management and advisory firm.

AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 set to kick off exclusively on Abu Dhabi Sports Asia

The AFC Asian Cup 2023, Asia's premier continental football competition, kicks off in Qatar on 12th January. This highly anticipated tournament will feature the participation of 24 teams as current champions Qatar look to retain their title on home soil. All matches will be broadcast exclusively in the UAE on Abu Dhabi Sports Asia 1 via STARZPLAY.The action starts on Friday, as host nation Qatar kick off the defence of their title against Lebanon at 20:00 UAE. The journey concludes with the grand final on February 10, at the iconic Lusail Stadium, where two finalists will compete for continental glory at 19:00 UAE.The illustrious 88,000-seater Lusail Stadium, inaugurated in September 2022, has already etched its name in history. In October 2023, it witnessed Lionel Messi's triumphant moment in the 2022 World Cup final. This iconic venue is all set to host the AFC Asian Cup 2023™, promising fans an unforgettable experience.The AFC Asian Cup, now in its 18th edition, was initially slated for 2023. However, the tournament was rescheduled to 2024 due to high summer temperatures and Qatar's participation in the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup.Football fans in the UAE can catch all the action live and exclusively on Abu Dhabi Sports Asia via STARZPLAY. Don't miss a moment of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 football fever.When and where to watch?Match: Qatar vs LebanonVenue: Lusail StadiumDate and Time: January 12th 20:00 UAEWhere to watch live: thousands of hours of premium content including the best western content, Arabic shows, Turkish favourites, anime, and live sports, STARZPLAY is fast solidifying its position as a leading multi-faceted entertainment hub. The service is available in 19 countries across the MENA for fans to enjoy quality content anytime, anywhere, and from any device.

Riot Games and HP join hands for global partnership

HP's gaming brands, Omen and HyperX, have entered a global partnership with Riot Games, the developer of popular titles like League of Legends and Valorant. This partnership signifies a strategic collaboration aimed at enhancing the gaming and esports experience globally. HP will serve as an official technology partner for Riot Games. This means that Omen and HyperX will have the opportunity to connect with Riot's extensive player base by providing them with cutting-edge hardware and technology solutions.The collaboration will extend beyond technology, as the three brands plan to work together on co-branded marketing campaigns. These campaigns will likely aim to engage and attract the gaming community, leveraging the popularity of Riot Games' titles like League of Legends, Valorant, and Teamfight Tactics.HP's gaming brands, in conjunction with Riot Games, will collaborate on developing new gaming products and technical innovations. This could lead to the creation of specialized gaming hardware designed to enhance the gaming experience for players.Omen and HyperX will actively support Riot Games' esports events, including LoL Esports, VCT (Valorant Champions Tour), and TFT (Teamfight Tactics) Esports. This support will manifest through various touch points, including digital and on-site event activations, fan engagement activities, and branded segments, as well as product placement during competitions.In 2024, Omen and HyperX will provide their gaming PCs and monitors to outfit all Riot Games Esports global events across LoL Esports, VCT, and TFT Esports. This ensures that these events will be equipped with top-of-the-line gaming technology for players and spectators alike.Josephine Tan, Senior Vice President & Division President of Gaming at HP Inc., expressed excitement about the alliance, emphasizing the combination of cutting-edge technology with Riot Games' player-focused approach to deliver unparalleled gaming experiences.John Needham, President of Esports at Riot Games, highlighted the company's commitment to being the most player-focused gaming company globally. He sees the partnership with HP as a means to further enhance the gaming experiences offered to players.This partnership not only solidifies HP's presence in the gaming industry but also showcases a commitment to elevating the gaming and esports experience for a global audience through a combination of advanced technology, marketing efforts, and event support.

Microsoft returns to the top spot as the most imitated brand in phishing attacks

Check Point Research (CPR), the Threat Intelligence arm of Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP) and a leading provider of cyber security solutions globally, has published its Brand Phishing Report for Q4 2023. The report highlights the brands that were most frequently imitated by cybercriminals in their attempts to steal individuals’ personal information or payment credentials during October, November and December 2023.Last quarter, Microsoft claimed the top spot as the number one most impersonated brand, accounting for 33% of all brand phishing attempts. The technology sector stood out as the most targeted industry overall, with Amazon securing second place with 9% and Google in third on 8%. Social networks and banking represented the other two most targeted industries.Consumer spending associated with the festive period saw cybercriminals continue to target retailers and couriers in Q4 2023.The widely recognized package delivery brand DHL moved into the top ten, possibly due to increased activity during the November shopping month, while Amazon’s ranking can largely be attributed to the annual Amazon Fall Prime Day sale that was scheduled during the second week of October.“While we have said goodbye to 2023, one thing has followed us into the new year and that is the threat of phishing. Even cybercriminals with limited IT expertise can accurately mimic legitimate brands to deceive unsuspecting customers and carry out social engineering attacks” said Omer Dembinsky, Data Group Manager at Check Point Software. “Following the widespread use of AI, we can expect to see a higher volume of phishing campaigns this year that are even more indistinguishable from genuine company communications. As the biggest names in technology, social networking and banking continue to be imitated, end users need to be extra vigilant when engaging with emails claiming to be from a reputable brand.”Top Phishing brandsBelow are the top 10 brands ranked by their overall appearance in brand phishing events during Q4 2023:Microsoft (33%)Amazon (9%)Google (8%)Apple (4%)Wells Fargo (3%)LinkedIn (3%)Home Depot (3%)Facebook (3%)Netflix (2%)DHL (2%)Microsoft Phishing Email - Email Verification ScamThis deceptive email, posing as the Microsoft account team, claimed to require email address verification and urged recipients to click a verification link. It featured a subject line "Microsoft: Verify your email address" aiming to create a sense of urgency. The phishing link included in the email was: “cloudflare-ipfs[.]com/ipfs/bafybeigjhhhd64vhna67panxz6myhaelya6vphjbic65jog5hvm4mmgpum”.This link is not associated with Microsoft. The email requested recipients to verify their email address and may potentially lead to fraudulent activities.

ROSHN and EVIQ Accelerate EV Adoption in Saudi Arabia

ROSHN Group, Saudi Arabia’s leading real estate developer and PIF-owned giga-project, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Company (EVIQ), a leading provider of EV charging solutions to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) across Saudi Arabia.Under the terms of the MoU, ROSHN and EVIQ will cooperate in evaluating, assessing and developing direct-current infrastructure solutions for EVs within residential communities and commercial properties developed by ROSHN spanning the Kingdom. The MoU is a significant milestone in ROSHN’s and EVIQ’s efforts to promote the adoption of EVs to create a more sustainable future for the Kingdom. This represents a new era of accessibility and convenience for the public, aligning with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 objective of increasing the number of electric vehicles on the roads of Riyadh to 30%.David Grover, CEO of ROSHN Group, said: “We are delighted to be working with EVIQ as part of our strategy to implement cutting-edge technologies and partner with best-in-class collaborators. This agreement underscores our dedication to creating a robust EV ecosystem which began with ROSHN Front, the iconic Riyadh destination with over 800,000 visitors each month, proudly hosting EVIQ’s inaugural public EV charging facility. We are thrilled to be expanding our collaboration to provide EV charging infrastructure throughout ROSHN’s humanized, integrated communities across the Kingdom.”CEO of EVIQ, Mohammad Baker Gazzaz, said: “This agreement signals the alignment and commitment of both companies to a mutual objective of improving quality of life for the citizens of Saudi Arabia. EVIQ’s advanced EV charging technology combined with the coverage of ROSHN’s integrated communities and properties will result in a wide-spread network of high-speed chargers in strategic locations around the kingdom, in which will result in a positive experience to EV users and support the EV adoption objectives of Saudi Arabia.”The collaboration between ROSHN and EVIQ will also see the launch of the Kingdom's first fast-charging public site launch at ROSHN Front in Riyadh. This strategic alliance aims to leverage the expertise of both entities to enhance the infrastructure and support systems crucial for the widespread adoption of EVs in the region. The partnership with EVIQ aligns with ROSHN’s ambitions to raise the bar for the real estate industry through innovation, sustainability, and integrity.

Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority Readies for a Bustling 2024

Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) invites global travellers to embark on a journey of discovery in 2024, positioning Bahrain as a premier travel destination. The Kingdom of Bahrain, with its strategic geographical location, offers and enticing array of attractions, events, and cultural experiences, making it the ideal choice for travellers seeking a perfect blend of relaxation, adventure and cultural exploration. In 2024, one can expect Bahrain to stand out as a travel haven to those seeking short getaways, providing ample opportunities to enjoy the many long weekends the year holds. Noted as an evolving travel trend, multiple short getaways are being favored over traditional one or two extended breaks. Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority would actively like to tap this trend and position itself as an ideal long weekend destination from India.  As a short-haul destination, Bahrain is a quick flight away from India with great connectivity via multiple airlines and cities at highly competitive pricing. It offers a rich cultural tapestry and vibrant experiences to a diverse audience seeking a break from their daily routine. An island nation with pristine beaches, vibrant nightlife, host of luxurious hotels and progressive and hospitable locals, make for an ideal holiday with friends, family and spa-cation alike. For the adventure seekers, Bahrain offers thrilling activities such as indoor sky diving, F1-inspired karting and diving in search of real pearls which will keep visitors engaged and enthralled. As travellers explore Bahrain in 2024, they will be captivated by the kingdom's open and inviting culture. Bahrain seamlessly blends rich heritage with modern amenities, offering a unique experience where tradition and innovation coexist harmoniously. Bahrainis take pride in sharing their stories, traditions, and delicious cuisine with visitors, creating an immersive and unforgettable cultural experience.

BLME appoints new Head of Alternative Investments

Bank of London and The Middle East plc (BLME) today announces that it has appointed Khaled Alanani as the bank’s Head of Alternative Investments. He rejoins BLME having previously held the position of Head of Real Estate Investments.Khaled’s appointment comes as part of BLME’s next phase of growth and broader strategy to expand its investment offering. He will be instrumental in the creation and distribution of new investment products, leveraging BLME’s ‘A’ credit rating and the financial strength of its parent company, Kuwait’s Boubyan Bank.Commenting on Khaled’s appointment, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Ball said:“We’re all extremely pleased that Khaled has chosen to return to BLME. The bank has significant growth ambitions across both the UK and the Middle East, and I look forward to working with Khaled to progress these goals and solidify BLME’s reputation as the go-to bank for GCC clients. He will work closely with BLME Capital, our recently launched subsidiary in Saudi Arabia, reaching new markets and unlocking investment opportunities for our GCC clients.”Khaled Alanani, Head of Alternative Investment said:“I am really looking forward to returning to BLME. It’s a hugely exciting time to be rejoining and to be working with such a talented group of people. GCC investors are increasingly seeking innovative and sophisticated investment opportunities and this is a golden opportunity to bring BLME’s expertise to new markets and capitalise on our exceptional track record”Khaled Alanani is a veteran real estate finance professional. Beginning his career at Cushman and Wakefield in Toronto, he first joined BLME as an Investment Manager in 2015. Whilst at BLME, he worked on a number of high-value deals across commercial and residential property and helped establish the bank’s real estate investments desk.Khaled holds a bachelor’s degree with Honours from McMaster University, Canada and a Masters in Real Estate Finance from Bayes Business School, London (formerly Cass Business School).

HPE to acquire Juniper Networks to accelerate AI-driven innovation

 Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) and Juniper Networks, Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), a leader in AI-native networks, today announced that the companies have entered a definitive agreement under which HPE will acquire Juniper in an all[1]cash transaction for $40.00 per share, representing an equity value of approximately $14 billion.The combination of HPE and Juniper advances HPE’s portfolio mix shift toward higher-growth solutions and strengthens its high-margin networking business, accelerating HPE’s sustainable profitable growth strategy. The transaction is expected to be accretive to non-GAAP EPS and free cash flow in the first year post close.The acquisition is expected to double HPE’s networking business, creating a new networking leader with a comprehensive portfolio that presents customers and partners with a compelling new choice to drive business value. The explosion of AI and hybrid cloud-driven business is accelerating demand for secure, unified technology solutions that connect, protect, and analyze companies’ data from edge to cloud. These trends, and AI specifically, will continue to be the most disruptive workloads for companies, and HPE has been aligning its portfolio to capitalize on these substantial IT trends with networking as a critical connective component.Combining HPE and Juniper’s complementary portfolios supercharges HPE’s edge-to-cloud strategy with an ability to lead in an AI-native environment based on a foundational cloud-native architecture. Together, HPE and Juniper will provide customers of all sizes with a complete, secure portfolio that enables the networking architecture necessary to manage and simplify their expanding and increasingly complex connectivity needs. Leveraging industry-leading AI, the combined company is expected to create better user and operator experiences, benefitting customers’ high performance networks and cloud data centers.Through its suite of cloud-delivered networking solutions, software, and services including the Mist AI and Cloud platform, Juniper helps organizations securely and efficiently access the mission-critical cloud infrastructure that serves as the foundation of digital and AI strategies. The combination with HPE Aruba Networking and purposely designed HPE AI interconnect fabric will bring together enterprise reach, and cloud-native and AI-native management and control, to create a premier industry player that will accelerate innovation to deliver further modernized networking optimized for hybrid cloud and AI.Upon completion of the transaction, Juniper CEO Rami Rahim will lead the combined HPE networking business, reporting to HPE President and CEO Antonio Neri.“HPE’s acquisition of Juniper represents an important inflection point in the industry and will change the dynamics in the networking market and provide customers and partners with a new alternative that meets their toughest demands,” said Neri. “This transaction will strengthen HPE’s position at the nexus of accelerating macro-AI trends, expand our total addressable market, and drive further innovation for customers as we help bridge the AI-native and cloud-native worlds, while also generating significant value for shareholders. I am excited to welcome Juniper’s talented employees to our team as we bring together two companies with complementary portfolios and proven track records of driving innovation within the industry.”“Our multi-year focus on innovative, secure AI-native solutions has driven Juniper Networks’ outstanding performance,” said Rami Rahim, CEO of Juniper Networks. “We have successfully delivered exceptional user experiences and simplified operations, and by joining HPE, I believe we can accelerate the next phase of our journey. In addition, this combination maximizes value for our shareholders through a meaningful all-cash premium. We look forward to working with the talented HPE team to drive innovation for enterprise, service provider and cloud customers across all domains, including campus, branch, data center and the wide area network.”Compelling Strategic Benefits• Compelling pro forma financial profile. In addition to the expected non-GAAP accretion, the combined company is expected to have attractive top- and bottom-line growth opportunities immediately and in the long term.• Positions HPE for long-term growth for shareholders and greater investment capacity.With Juniper, HPE’s portfolio will be weighted toward higher-growth, higher-margin businesses with large free cash flow potential, positioning HPE to enhance shareholder return and enabling additional investments in high-growth areas, such as AI and cloud. On a pro forma basis, the new networking segment will increase from approximately 18% of total HPE revenue as of fiscal year 2023 to approximately 31% and contribute more than 56%1,2 of HPE’s total operating income.• Complementary capabilities to deliver next-generation AI-native networking and enable new digital experiences through secure, intelligent connectivity. Networking will become the new core business and architecture foundation for HPE’s Hybrid Cloud and AI solutions delivered through our HPE GreenLake hybrid cloud platform. The combined company will offer secure, end-to-end AI-native solutions that are built on the foundation of cloud, high performance, and experience-first, and will also have the ability to collect, analyze, and act Includes HPE Intelligent Edge / HPE financials for fiscal year 2023 and Juniper financials for LTM 09/30/23 2 Pro forma operating profit includes impact of run-rate cost synergies of $450 million (assumed 100% contribution to Intelligent Edge) on aggregated telemetry across a broader installed base. This will drive even better end-user experiences and streamlined network operations for our customers.• Accelerates HPE’s strategic evolution and expands total addressable market. The acquisition increases the scope of HPE’s networking business and will create meaningful opportunities to provide even more comprehensive solutions to Juniper’s installed base of enterprise customers, communication service providers and tier-one cloud customers, as well as launches HPE into adjacent large segments, including data center networking, firewalls, and routers. It also grows Juniper’s footprint in data centers and cloud providers.Transaction Details and ApprovalsUnder the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of HPE and Juniper, Juniper shareholders will receive $40.00 per share in cash upon the completion of the transaction. The purchase price represents a premium of approximately 32% to the unaffected closing price of Juniper’s common stock on January 8, 2024, the last full trading day prior to media reports regarding a possible transaction.The transaction is expected to be funded based on financing commitments for $14 billion in term loans. Such financing will ultimately be replaced, in part, with a combination of new debt, mandatory convertible preferred securities, and cash on the balance sheet. The transaction is currently expected to close in late calendar year 2024 or early calendar year 2025, subject to receipt of regulatory approvals, approval of the transaction by Juniper shareholders, and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.The combination is expected to achieve operating efficiencies and run-rate annual cost synergies of $450 million within 36 months post close. Strong growth in free cash flow, along with maintenance of capital allocation policies, are expected to provide sufficient room to reduce leverage to approximately 2x in two years post close. Following the completion of the transaction, HPE will continue its innovation and go-to-market investments in its networking business, one of its growth engines.AdvisorsJ.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Qatalyst Partners are serving as HPE’s financial advisors. Committed financing for the transaction has been provided by Citigroup Global Markets Inc., JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. and Mizuho Bank, Ltd. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Covington & Burling LLP, and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP are serving as legal counsel. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC is serving as Juniper’s exclusive financial advisor and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is serving as legal counsel.

Surge seen in AI-powered startups, new cybersecurity tools

In 2024, there will be a surge in AI-driven startups, marked by the development of cybersecurity tools leveraging generative AI models and the integration of artificial intelligence as a supportive assistant.In its prediction for 2024, Positive technologies, a cybersecurity leader, sees setting up of services with the help of natural languages, private blockchain, trusted blockchain, and advanced encryption methods, which are fuelling the evolution of blockchain technology.2024 is set to feature an astonishing landscape of change for organisations across the Middle East especially in light of the region’s race towards digitalisation.Artificial intelligence and cybersecurityAlexandra Murzina, Head of Advanced Technologies, Positive Technologies, says new capabilities of generative AI have reshaped many industries this year. Just a year ago, few would have imagined the multi-pronged uses of AI: image generation, text generation along with text-to-speech, as well as scriptwriting and the creation of script-based videos in real time.“Today, we are witnessing a boom of AI-powered startups. Artificial intelligence has advanced so fast that it has taken root in some professional areas, forcing the workforce to master new tools.”This trend also applies to cybersecurity. AI technologies have benefited both defence teams and attackers. They have helped companies make threat detection and response processes more effective, and cybercriminals improve their cyber kill chains. GitHub now features many different cybersecurity tools based on generative AI models.AI as assistant“In addition, we are seeing a trend towards the use of artificial intelligence as an assistant. Take Microsoft Security Copilot, for example. This trend is pushing the industry to rethink conventional cybersecurity products.”The open-source community has contributed a lot to this progress by developing many of the ML solutions currently available. Companies, academies, and individual enthusiasts have trained many large language models, shared their image generation algorithms based on the Stable Diffusion model, and posted useful materials and tutorials. This has made advanced technologies more accessible than ever before.Knowledge distillation of large language models was a major trend of 2023. Training LLMs takes a lot of effort and using them is expensive. That's why experts are looking for a solution that would simplify this task and make it available to more people. This has resulted in quantified and distilled LLMs that can run on laptops, and some even on mobile devices. At the same time, guidelines and recommendations on performing these tasks are now available.Creating servicesAnother emerging trend is creating services with the help of natural languages. It is projected to make big strides as early as next year, enabling development of breakthrough technologies without coding. For example, prior to AI, if you wanted to build an application or query a database, you needed to know the language syntax to work with those tools. Now you can do it by writing prompts in natural languages, and LLMs will follow your instructions and apply the necessary format.Moreover, the industry's still trying to figure out what an artificial general intelligence (AGI) should be. AGI is a hypothetical type of artificial intelligence capable of performing any intellectual task even better than human professionals. There are many opinions and interpretations. In November 2023, for example, Google DeepMind published a paper presenting their vision of artificial general intelligence as a framework for classifying the capabilities and behavior of AGI models and their precursors.Growth drivers for blockchain projects in 2024In 2023, the world witnessed a rapid advancement of technology based on zero-knowledge proof (ZKP). ZPK technology already found application in a range of Ethereum L2 chains and Proof-of-Reserves approaches.It even started spreading beyond blockchain. Much work has been done in the field of identification. For example, the Worldcoin project, which was launched not so long ago, uses retinal scans to identify individuals and has already gained over one million users. Inter-blockchain technologies, such as the Cosmos and Polkadot ecosystems, will definitely continue to expand.The blockchain market is growing, indicating a rise in investment and innovation spending in this area. In addition to cryptocurrencies, blockchain is being widely used in industry and the Internet of Things. Since 2020, we've observed strong investment in blockchain projects, which is driving the application of these technologies in business.The geographic distribution of blockchain increases the sustainability of projects: North America and Asia-Pacific are leaders in the use of blockchain technology. The emerging standards and solutions such as private blockchain, trusted blockchain, and advanced encryption methods, are fuelling the evolution of blockchain technology.

Souq Al Jubail welcomes over 50mln visitors in 8 years

Since its launch in 2015, Souq Al Jubail has welcomed over 50 million shoppers and visitors, establishing itself as a key market, commercial destination, and tourist landmark in Sharjah, offering integrated quality services and diverse facilities.Mohammad bin Essa, Chief Asset Management Officer of the Asset Management Sector at Sharjah Asset Management, stated that this remarkable achievement of hosting a large number of visitors over the past 8 years has established the market as one of the most significant tourist and commercial destinations in the Emirate of Sharjah.This accomplishment is attributed to the foresight of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, who is dedicated to making Sharjah an emblem of evolution, prosperity, renaissance, and civilization.Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammed has shown great interest in Souq Al Jubail, aiming to serve the residents of the Emirate of Sharjah in its diverse regions. He recently inaugurated Souq Al Jubail - Dhaid and Souq Al Jubail - Kalba, with Souq Al Jubail in Al Madam set to open in the near future. The goal is to provide comprehensive and high-quality food products to a broader segment of the emirate's population and visitors.Bin Essa commented, "Every year, Souq Al Jubail continues to witness increasing demand from visitors and shoppers. This is a result of our integrated services to meet the needs of various market visitors, successfully branding ourselves as one of the most important markets and tourist destinations in the region and globally."He asserted, "Year after year, the market witnesses an increasing influx of visitors and shoppers due to its comprehensive and high-quality services, competitive pricing meeting the diverse needs of its visitors, and the provision of fresh, imported, and high-quality products. This ensures a comfortable and distinctive shopping experience in alignment with the highest global standards and measures, making the market the preferred and foremost destination for visitors."He emphasised, "The market's extensive diversity across its sections has rendered it a unique destination, garnering significant attention, especially from seafood enthusiasts. The fish section stands out as a distinctive addition to the market, boasting over 250 varieties of fish. This significantly contributes to supporting fishermen and those employed in this sector, enhancing consumer choices, and providing more comprehensive avenues for fishermen. Additionally, it plays a crucial role in regulating and controlling the sale prices of various types of fish."A market with 261 shops spread across three main sections: fruits and vegetables, meat, and fresh fish. It also offers services like ATMs, a hypermarket, and pharmacies for convenience.The Souq Al Jubail hosts the Al Jubail 1441 Restaurant, offering stunning views of Sharjah Creek and serving seafood, Arabic and international coffee, fresh juices, and seasonal hot and cold drinks.Souq Al Jubail hosts various events and activities throughout the year, including exhibitions, festivals, and the annual Dates Festival since 2015, which attracts leading date traders and shop vendors.Souq Al Jubail in Al Dhaid is a comprehensive service destination covering 78,000 square meters and organized into four sections: meat, vegetables and fruits, fish, and a central courtyard. It includes storage and refrigeration warehouses to ensure food quality. The market has 86 diverse commercial units, including 24 for meats and poultry, 45 for vegetables, fruits, and dates, and 16 for fish, each with specific amenities and facilities.Souq Al Jubail in Kalba is a comprehensive market with specialised restaurants, a traditional café, children's play area, and prayer rooms. It is divided into three main sections: Meat, Fish, and Vegetable and Fruit, covering 33 thousand square meters. The market aims to provide high-quality fresh produce and create employment opportunities for fishermen, traders, farmers, and ranchers.Souq Al Jubail is a project of Sharjah Asset Management, the investment arm of the Government of Sharjah.

Ooredoo Kuwait launches offers to cater to customers' needs during this season

In sync with the much-anticipated outdoor and Keshta season, Ooredoo Kuwait, the leading telecommunications company, is taking innovative steps to connect with its customers. The company is introducing special offers and deals designed to cater to the unique needs of its customers during this season. As a gesture of appreciation for the desert lovers, Ooredoo Kuwait is also offering complimentary Kashta Box gifts. Recognizing the Kuwaiti passion for desert adventures in winter, Ooredoo Kuwait aims to accompany its customers every step of the way, catering to their interests and enhancing their outdoor experiences.As part of this initiative, Ooredoo proudly announces an exclusive partnership with Anker, the globally acclaimed technology brand renowned for its cutting-edge charging solutions. This strategic collaboration not only establishes Ooredoo as the sole telecom company in Kuwait to align with Anker but also positions it as the primary dealer of Anker products in the country.The featured Anker product lineup at Ooredoo branches spans a comprehensive range of essential charging solutions, including portable batteries, charging cables, wired and wireless chargers, along with charging solar panels and power stations. This exclusive partnership aims to provide customers with a diverse selection of high-quality and technologically advanced charging options, enriching their overall experience.To celebrate this groundbreaking collaboration, Ooredoo plans to surprise and delight customers by offering complimentary Anker products enclosed in specially curated Kashta boxes. These items are thoughtfully designed for use during the desert camping season, enhancing customers' experiences in the great outdoors.At Ooredoo, the company is dedicated to providing customers with the best solutions. The collaboration with Anker emphasizes this commitment. By joining forces, the goal is to enhance the overall customer experience, offering not only top-tier telecom services but also access to state-of-the-art charging solutions that cater to their evolving needs. The overarching aim is to position the company as a one-stop-shop for customers' telecommunication and technology needs.This partnership with Anker aligns seamlessly with Ooredoo's vision to be at the forefront of innovation, making advanced technology accessible to everyone. With Anker's cutting-edge charging products now accessible at Ooredoo branches, customers can conveniently discover reliable solutions to keep their devices powered, particularly during their desert excursions.The complimentary Ooredoo Keshta boxes are offered for customers at Ooredoo’s branches that display Anker products. These branches include Kuwait International Airport, Mishref, Farwaniya Co-op, Ooredoo Tower, Al Jahra, and Avenues, Phase 4.For more information about Ooredoo's exclusive partnership with Anker or to explore the range of products available, please visit one of these branches.

Mall of Muscat unveils future vision with new experiences and dynamic additions

 Mall of Muscat, leading leisure and entertainment destination, has witnessed a remarkable year in 2023, soaring beyond expectations. With over 4 million footfalls, collection of prestigious awards, and a spectrum of successful events, it has elevated its status quintessential destination for leisure and entertainment.Embarking on a journey of transformation, Mall of Muscat is undergoing a strategic refresh to elevate the customer experience. This initiative signifies a new era of vibrancy and engagement, aiming to enrich the overall ambience and service quality, ensuring that every visit is memorable. In 2023, the Mall of Muscat was distinguished with the prestigious Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Shopping Centre and Retailer Award, reinforcing its status as a frontrunner in traditional marketing excellence, specifically for its impactful cause-related marketing initiatives.Mall of Muscat is a unique fusion of elegance and excitement, where luxury seamlessly blends with adventure, providing an unmatched experience in Muscat. This destination is a shining example of the city’s vibrant evolution in both retail and entertainment sectors.The Mall of Muscat in 2023 welcomed Oud Dubai, Fatty Patty, Fun VR, Biryani Bowl, Style Passport, Al Faisal Watches, Gracia, Tjwens, Gadgets and Meito. Oud Dubai enhances the luxury retail scene with its exquisite fragrances. Fatty Patty offers a delightful culinary experience with its unique menu, while Fun VR introduces a new dimension of entertainment with its virtual reality gaming arena. Biryani Bowl tantalises taste buds with its flavour-packed biryanis and curries, each dish a celebration of rich, aromatic spices that promise a culinary journey. For fashion enthusiasts, Style Passport stands as a multi-brand store, a treasure trove of diverse styles and trends under one roof, catering to every fashion need. Al Faisal Watches offers a luxurious array of jewellery and watches, combining elegance and craftsmanship in each piece. Gracia, a Muscat-based leader in interior design and contracting, provides exceptional fit-outs and designs, transforming spaces with sophistication and style. Tech aficionados will find a haven in Gadgets Oman, offering everything from IT management to supply. Meito adds a playful twist to the mix with its delightful range of bubble teas, offering a refreshing break in the midst of shopping and exploration.In the coming months, the Mall of Muscat is set to introduce a series of captivating activations. Among them is Habib Beirut, bringing a taste of authentic Lebanese cuisine. Optimum Cafe and Roastery will offer an unparalleled coffee experience with its diverse range of in-house roasted coffees and unique brewing methods. Adventure World promises thrilling experiences for all ages, from white water rafting to skydiving, alongside high-quality outdoor gear. Dirran Organic will provide organic beauty products, marrying ancient wisdom with modern science. Additions such as Flawerma are set to contribute significantly to the mall's dynamic atmosphere.These changes align with Mall of Muscat’s commitment to offer diverse, engaging, and new experiences for our customers. The destination continue to pride itself on being a premier destination for shopping with multiple international brands and for holistic entertainment. Fabyland delights all ages with its vibrant play areas, Xtreme Zone offers adrenaline-fueled excitement, Novo Cinemas creates an unforgettable cinematic experience, Fun VR merges the digital and real for immersive exploration, and Xcape Muscat challenges minds with its thrilling escape room adventures. Oman Aquarium remains a key highlight, offering an immersive journey into the marine world.A spokesperson for Mall of Muscat said, “In 2023, Mall of Muscat achieved a remarkable milestone of over 4 million footfalls and garnered prestigious awards and hosted a series of successful events, showcasing our commitment to excellence. As we embark on a transformative journey into 2024, we continue to evolve and innovate, ensuring that the Mall of Muscat remains the leading leisure and entertainment destination, setting new benchmarks in customer experience and engagement.”Last year Mall of Muscat highlighted its commitment to community support through various initiatives. Collaborating with Al Rahma Association, Oman Tourism College, and Scientific College of Design, it supported SMEs and students by offering free stalls during Eid-Al-Fitr/Ramadan, an effort that won the Mall the 2023 MENA Shopping Centre and Retailer Award for cause-related marketing. Additionally, the Mall partnered with Dar Al Atta’a for National Day, transforming into a vibrant marketplace to support the Palestine cause, selling a range of items from local contributors, with proceeds going to Dar Al Atta’a.The Mall also enhanced retail experiences with special back-to-school offers in August, and celebrated cultural events like Ramadan's Qaranqasho with activities for children, and Eid with festive decorations, sales, and international entertainment including musical shows and acrobatic performances. These events, along with the National Day weekend's joyful celebrations, underscored the Mall's role as a hub of community engagement and cultural festivity.Mall of Muscat is evolving and redefining the shopping and entertainment experience. With these latest additions and strategic refresh, the mall continues to be a destination where memories are made, and experiences are cherished.

Merging AI and human insight for effective PR and marketing

Authored by Tanu Chopra, Seasoned PR Professional in Dubai.When we look into the public relations industry's crystal ball in 2024, we see a landscape rich with emerging trends and dynamic alterations in communication techniques. The involvement of Artificial Intelligence (AI), a force that is not just riding the wave of change but actively influencing it, is central to this shift.Gone are the days when PR and marketing were solely guided by human intuition and experiential wisdom. Today, we stand at the precipice of a new era where AI is catalysing a shift to a more analytical and data-driven approach. This transformation is not just about the efficiency of mining vast databases or the accuracy in forecasting consumer behaviours; it's about redefining how we understand and interact with our audiences. AI's prowess in machine learning, sophisticated data analytics, and automation is setting the stage for an unprecedented evolution in communication strategies and market analysis.The true art, however, is in using AI as part of a larger, human-centric approach rather than as a single answer. Let's look at how this combination will change the PR and marketing landscape in 2024.Mastering the Art of AI-Driven AnalyticsThe role of AI in data analysis and strategic planning within public relations and marketing is not just transformative; it's revolutionary.Advanced AI algorithms now delve beyond mere data analysis; they are the modern-day alchemists turning vast, unstructured data into golden insights. These insights are not just numbers and trends. They are predictive intelligence – a forward-thinking approach that anticipates market shifts and customer behaviour with startling accuracy. AI doesn't just track competitor strategies; it anticipates their next moves, offering a strategic advantage that is both proactive and pre-emptive.Renaissance of Content Creation and DistributionAI is no longer just a tool for automation, it is a creative partner. AI technologies are now sophisticated enough to collaborate with human creators, infusing content with nuanced intelligence and creativity.From the written word to the world of visual graphics, AI enhances the artistic process, injecting a level of precision and personalisation previously unimaginable. But the power of AI extends beyond creation to the sophisticated realm of distribution.In this era, content distribution is an art form, and AI algorithms are the master artists. They don't just disseminate content; they orchestrate their journey, ensuring each piece finds its audience punctually and contextually. This level of optimisation is more than just technical; it's empathetic. AI understands the audience's pulse, catering to their preferences and engaging them at a level that resonates deeply.Elevating Customer Engagement to New HeightsWe are witnessing AI transcend its role within the public relations and marketing realm and emerge as a pivotal architect of customer engagement and personalisation. AI is not just processing data but understanding and interpreting it to create a new customer interaction paradigm.The advent of AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants has revolutionised real-time customer interaction. These tools no longer offer mere assistance; they provide a conversational experience that is as engaging as it is informative. They are the new face of brand-customer interactions, operating with empathy and understanding that blurs the line between artificial and human intelligence.Ethical Considerations and ChallengesIntegrating AI in public relations and marketing is not just a matter of technological advancement but also a journey through a complex ethical landscape.The first and foremost challenge is data privacy. The ethical use of AI in PR and marketing demands a stringent adherence to privacy laws, a transparent data policy, and a commitment to protecting user data from misuse or breaches. This is not just a legal obligation; it's a cornerstone of trust between brands and their audiences.Another critical challenge is the potential bias in AI algorithms. AI systems are only as unbiased as the data they are fed and the programming behind them. In 2024, the industry must ensure that AI tools are accessible from prejudices that could skew marketing strategies or communication campaigns.Furthermore, the ethical creation and use of AI-generated content is a burgeoning concern. As AI becomes more adept at creating realistic content, the lines between AI-generated and human-created content blur. The ethical use of such content demands transparency - making it clear when and how AI is used. This transparency is crucial for maintaining public trust and the integrity of our profession.Harmonising AI and Human CreativityThe true potential of AI in PR and marketing lies in its role as an enabler of human creativity. AI tools and algorithms are adept at processing vast amounts of data, identifying patterns, and generating insights at a speed and scale beyond human capability.However, human professionals interpret these insights, infuse them with creative thought, and translate them into compelling narratives and strategies. This synergy is where the magic happens – data-driven precision meets creative storytelling.Moreover, the human-AI partnership in PR and marketing is not static; it is dynamic and ever-evolving. As AI technologies advance, they open new avenues for creative exploration, enabling professionals to push the boundaries of what's possible.Simultaneously, human professionals guide the development and application of AI, ensuring that it aligns with ethical standards and human-centric values.Preparing for an AI-Driven FuturePR and marketing strategies in 2024 must be agile and adaptable, ready to pivot as AI technologies and market dynamics evolve. This agility is crucial in leveraging AI for predictive analytics, personalised customer experiences, and complex content creation.Finally, in an AI-driven future, collaboration is critical. Professionals should seek to collaborate across disciplines, combining AI expertise with insights from data scientists, creative designers, and strategy experts. This collaborative approach will foster innovative solutions and ensure that AI integration is holistic and practical.Navigating the Path AheadIn 2024, the use of AI in public relations and marketing represents a watershed moment, but it is the combination of human intuition that is critical. While AI provides unparalleled efficiency in data management and content generation, the heart of effective communication remains human empathy, creativity, and ethical judgment.For public relations and marketing professionals, the future is about mastering the balance between AI's analytical strength and the essential human touch. This collaboration guarantees that our initiatives are original, impactful, and profoundly connected with our audiences while keeping the human element at the heart of our profession.

Ellie Chammas joins Total Media Ventures and Smartifai as MD, MENA

Elie Chammas has been appointed as the Managing Director for the MENA region at Total Media Ventures (TMV) and Smartifai. His extensive experience in the digital media industry, particularly his role in launching and driving the success of TikTok in the MENA market, showcases his ability to contribute significantly to the growth and development of the companies.Chammas's background as the Director- Head of MENA at Project Agora, where he led operations for a prominent ad tech and online media platform, further strengthens his position as a valuable asset for TMV and Smartifai. The endorsement from Herman D Souza, Co-Founder of Smartifai, highlights the confidence in Chammas's ability to align with the company's vision and contribute to regional and global scaling.In a LinkedIn post, Elie Chammas, says: “I am very happy to share that I have joined Total Media Ventures & Smartifai as the Managing Director for the MENA region. I feel blessed to be part of a very well established organization, team & product solutions.” Elie Chammas's role in leading TMV and Smartifai’s MENA operations to new heights suggests exciting prospects for the companies in the region. His unique blend of business acumen, technical expertise, and industry knowledge positions him well to navigate the challenges and opportunities in the dynamic digital media landscape.

Jury announced for Middle East & Africa WARC Awards 2024

WARC Awards for Middle East & Africa 2024, held in association with LIONS, has announced the names of its jury members. The award focuses on recognizing outstanding strategies and impact in various categories within the advertising and marketing industry. The jury members, drawn from the Middle East and Africa region, represent a diverse range of professionals with expertise in different aspects of the industry.Let us have a look at some of the jury members:Jury Chairs and Members:• Khaled Al Shehhi, Executive Director of Marketing and Communication at UAE Government Media Office. He will lead Channel Integration, Channel Pioneer, Partnerships & Sponsorships, Path to Purchase, Use of Data. • Elda Choucair, CEO of Omnicom Media Group• Babar Rahman, Vice President Marketing of Qatar Airways• Gugu Mthembu, Chief Marketing Officer of Telkom. He will oversee Brand Purpose, Business-to-Business, Cultural Impact, Customer Experience, Instant Impact, Long-term Growth• Yssem Saadi, General Manager at Mindshare Tunisia• Yvonne Gyefour, Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Head of Brand at Jumia Group• Christine Amisi-Bwire, Media Director at Starcom East Africa/ALB• Mosala Phillips, Chief Marketing Officer at Old Mutual• Dawn Rowlands, CEO for Sub Saharan Africa at DentsuAdditional Members:Middle East:• Walid Kanaan (Chief Creative at TBWA RAAD Lebanon)• Rawad El Dahouk (Head of Strategy and Planning at Wunderman Thompson Saudi)• Juman Sleiman (Senior Strategist at Imagination Middle East)• Dina El-Dessouky (Head of Strategy & Insights at Leo Burnett MENA)Africa:• Souheil Badaa (CMO at Riaya Industries)• Deepankar Rustagi (CEO at OmniRetail Technology)• Neema Masinde (Regional Lead Marketing Communications & Integrated Media at Beiersdorf Kenya)New Category:Category: Strategic Thinking• Jury Chair: Carolyne Kendi (Chief Marketing Officer at Absa Kenya PLC)After the regional awards, the chairs of all regional awards (Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Latin America, and North America) will form a super jury to award the Grands Prix, selected from all the regional Golds.Awards:Gold, Silver, and Bronze accolades will be awarded across the 12 categories.The WARC Awards play a crucial role in recognizing and celebrating excellence in advertising and marketing strategies, with a focus on the Middle East and Africa region.

Google Cloud unveils key insights for cybersecurity planning in 2024

Google Cloud has released its annual Cybersecurity Forecast report for 2024, compiling forward-looking thoughts from security leaders and experts from different teams across Mandiant, Google Cloud and VirusTotal, who are on the frontlines of the latest and largest attacks. Aiming to empower the cybersecurity industry, this comprehensive report provides essential insights and strategies to frame the fight against cyber adversaries in the year ahead.While new technologies will aid security teams, they can also expand the attack surface. In 2024, the rapidly evolving world of generative AI will provide attackers with new ways to conduct convincing phishing campaigns and information operations at scale. However, defenders will use the same technologies to strengthen detection, response, and attribution of adversaries - and more broadly reduce toil, address threat overload, and close the widening skills gap. Renze Jongman, Strategic Threat Intelligence Specialist, MEA at Google Cloud says: “While the rapid development of new technologies like AI will allow attackers to speed up and scale their criminal operations, it also offers unique ways for defenders to combat the threat. The ability to scale cybersecurity talent is particularly exciting to me: the GCC region has a growing number of young and talented cybersecurity graduates, keen to contribute to defending their countries and organizations against cyber attacks. They can now start to have an exponential impact and rapidly grow and expand their skill set by leveraging AI in their investigations and operations.”The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving, sometimes in new and unexpected ways. Defenders, often with limited resources, have the monumental task of keeping up. Here are some of the key takeaways from the Google Cloud Cybersecurity Forecast 2024 to help prepare for the year ahead:AI for attack and defense: AI is set to revolutionize cybersecurity for both attackers and defenders. Attackers are expected to leverage generative AI and large language models to create more sophisticated phishing and social engineering tactics, as well as to add scale to information operations. Defenders will utilize AI to enhance threat detection, response and attribution capabilities, as well as speed up analysis and other time-consuming tasks like reverse engineering.Continued use of zero-day exploits: An increased reliance on zero-day vulnerabilities by attackers is anticipated by both nation-state and cybercriminal groups, aiming to evade detection and maintain prolonged access to compromised systems. Edge devices and virtualization software are particularly attractive to threat actors because they are challenging to monitor. Cybercriminals know using a zero-day vulnerability will increase the number of victims and, based on recent mass extortion events, the number of organizations that may pay high ransomware or extortion demands.Growing prevalence of mobile cybercrime: Expect an increase in mobile cybercrime, with scammers using advanced and novel social engineering tactics like fake domestic help services, counterfeit social media, bank, or government communications, and deceptive pop-up alerts to trick victims into installing malicious apps on their mobile devices. Jongman adds: “This type of social engineering has grown rapidly across the Middle East in recent years, and while governments and organizations are already taking measures to protect their customers, this threat is likely to grow both in volume and sophistication across the region.” Maturing of attacks targeting hybrid and multicloud environments: With organizations around the world moving to the cloud, threat actors will look to exploit misconfigurations and identity issues to move laterally across different cloud environments.Escalating espionage and “sleeper botnet” tactics: Espionage activities will evolve and find more ways to scale, including the use of "sleeper botnets" created from vulnerable IoT, and small/home office or end-of-life devices. These botnets can be used and discarded as needed, complicating attribution efforts.Resurgence of older attack techniques: There is an expected revival in using older, less common cyberattack techniques which aren’t widely understood. These methods, often overlooked in modern detection systems, could provide attackers with a stealthy means to breach defenses.

PrimeXM appoints Christina Barbash as Regional Sales Manager

Christina Barbash is taking up the new role as the as the Regional Sales Manager at PrimeXM - Financial Technology. Her extensive experience in the financial industry and deep understanding of financial technology makes her a valuable addition to the team.PrimeXM's focus on providing cutting-edge technology solutions for the financial markets aligns well with Christina's background and expertise. As the Regional Sales Manager, she is poised to play a crucial role in driving business growth and fostering strong relationships with clients in the region.Christina's enthusiasm for the new opportunity and her commitment to leveraging her experience to help clients achieve their trading goals reflect her dedication to making a positive impact in her role. Her appointment highlights PrimeXM's dedication to delivering innovative solutions and exceptional service to its clients.With PrimeXM being a renowned provider of advanced connectivity, aggregation, and risk management solutions, Christina's contributions are likely to contribute significantly to the company's continued success and growth in the financial technology sector. It's a significant milestone for both Christina Barbash and PrimeXM, and it will be exciting to see the positive impact she brings to her new role.

HONOR takes center stage at 1 Billion Followers Summit

The global technology brand HONOR announces its participation in the prestigious 1 Billion Followers Summit, the world's premier gathering for content creators. Set against the backdrop of the captivating theme "Get Connected," the summit serves as a dynamic platform for global influencers, self-starters, and creative industry players to converge and exchange insights.Scheduled for January 10-11, 2024, at the iconic Emirates Towers and Museum of the Future, the summit, organized by the New Media Academy, aims to amplify the impact of digital content and new media. It serves as a catalyst for positive social influence, boosting the creative economy, and driving ambitious development agendas on both regional and global scales.“We are pleased to be part of the world's biggest gathering for content creation and creators as we share the same creative spirit and enthusiasm as a brand.” Mr. Mafeijian (Mr. House), The General Manager of HONOR GCC. “With cutting-edge technologies and remarkable photography capabilities on HONOR smartphones, we empower influencers and content creators and offer them tools and innovations that can elevate the quality of their content.”HONOR's involvement marks a significant milestone for the brand as it aligns with the summit's vision to empower content creators and reach over one billion individuals worldwide through purposeful and resonant messages.At the 1 Billion Followers Summit, HONOR will take center stage with a signature booth situated in the bustling boulevard of Emirates Towers. The booth promises a unique and interactive experience, offering attendees an immersive glimpse into HONOR's cutting-edge technology and creative innovations as well as a sneak-peak into its upcoming foldable phone the Magic V2, which has already won several prestigious awards for its design and functionality after its initial release in China during the latter half of 2023.As the 1 Billion Followers Summit gears up for its second edition, the anticipation is palpable. The success of the debut edition, featuring 75+ speakers, 6,500+ attendees, and 40+ sessions and workshops, sets the stage for an even more impactful round in 2024. With expectations soaring, the upcoming edition is poised to host over 100 speakers in 50+ expert-led sessions and workshops, welcoming 7,000+ attendees, including 3,000 content creators, influencers, and creatives from across the globe.Stay tuned as HONOR and the 1 Billion Followers Summit details and coverage.

Mashreq launches new mobile app for superior digital experience

Mashreq, one of the leading financial institutions in the MENA region, announced the launch of its innovative mobile app, Mashreq UAE, aimed at providing a superior digital experience for its customers. This cutting-edge solution represents a significant leap in mobile banking, merging the Mashreq app with the Mashreq NEO app to deliver a unified, single-login platform. This consolidation allows customers to view all their financial relationships across products and services, enhancing convenience and simplifying their banking experience.The newly enhanced Mashreq NEO experience offered through the Mashreq UAE app, has been specifically designed with the customer in mind, offering a personalized experience with features like tailor-made offers for credit and debit cards visible on the app dashboard. The app's simpler branding is aimed at providing a consistent experience across different customer segments and variants, truly embodying the essence of intuitive customer focus.Fernando Morillo, Group Head of Retail Banking, Mashreq, said, “Banks that are focused on enhancing their digital infrastructure are set to see a dramatic spike in engagement, thanks to a consumer base that is evolving to be more tech-savvy, seeking convenience, simplicity and personalization. As one of the leading financial institutions in the region, Mashreq has had a history of going beyond just offering new products and services, which has enabled us to pioneer the best-in-class experiences that benefit our customers. Because of the demonstrated success of our digital banking platforms in the UAE and other global markets, we have undertaken expansion to new markets, such as Egypt, Pakistan, and scaling up our presence in the GCC. The new, supercharged Mashreq NEO experience we have introduced through this launch, is yet another incredible milestone in our journey to creating truly game-changing digital experiences for our customers.”Radu Topliceanu, Head of NEO and Personal Banking, Mashreq, said “As we embrace the future of banking, the revamped Mashreq NEO experience is more than just a technological advancement. It is a strategic pivot towards fully integrated, customer-centric digital experiences. The app is not only a gateway to efficient and secure banking but also a reflection of our commitment to understanding and addressing the unique financial needs of our customers. We are redefining the standards of digital banking, ensuring that every interaction is personalized, secure, and above all, effortlessly intuitive. Our aim is to not only meet but exceed the expectations of our digitally-savvy customers, making Mashreq the go-to bank for innovative and reliable digital banking services.”The app is particularly designed for the digitally connected consumer and busy professionals who manage their finances on the go. It offers existing Mashreq customers a consolidated view of their relationships with the bank, a single login for ease of use, and a personalized experience. The app’s 24/7 customer service via the Digital Chatbot – Mashreq Virtual Assistant is a highlight, offering instant support and transaction management. Customers who are new to the bank will benefit from a 100% digital onboarding journey, allowing them to open an account quickly and securely with just a face scan. This biometric face validation provides a fast, secure, and streamlined process, making decision-making simpler for the customers.In terms of growth and engagement, the launch of the Mashreq UAE app is anticipated to significantly boost user engagement rates. The bank forecasts considerable increases in these areas, showcasing the app's potential to transform the digital banking experience for its users. These enhancements align with Mashreq's vision for the app over the coming years, aiming to onboard all customers digitally, offer a comprehensive range of services, and establish itself as the most rewarding banking app in the market.

Delinea acquires Authomize

 Delinea, a leading provider of solutions that seamlessly extend Privileged Access Management (PAM), today announced it has acquired Authomize, an innovator in the detection and elimination of identity-based threats across the cloud. The continuous discovery and visibility capabilities of Authomize, married with Delinea’s industry-leading SaaS solutions for PAM, will extend the Delinea Platform’s reach for comprehensive privileged controls in the cloud while expanding its role to provide a strong defense against identity-based attacks such as account takeovers, insider threats, and lateral movement. CIEM and ITDR capabilities will be delivered through the cloud-native Delinea Platform, adding depth to its execution of the company’s vision to extend PAM across the modern enterprise.Osterman research indicates that 80% of enterprises now use multiple clouds, while 76% lack complete visibility into access policies and applications across multiple clouds, increasing the threat landscape. CIEM extends controls to SaaS applications and public cloud infrastructure to minimize the risk of overprivileged cloud identities. A June 2022 report by the Identity Defined Security Alliance revealed that 84% of organizations experienced an identity-related breach over the previous year, with 96% stating they could have prevented or minimized the breach by implementing identity-focused outcomes. ITDR works across all identities to detect threats and mitigate risk with better visibility and remediation.“The combination of Delinea and Authomize gives customers the power to detect and mitigate active identity threats across SaaS applications, cloud, and hybrid infrastructure,” said Art Gilliland, CEO at Delinea. “The extension of human and non-human identities beyond the traditional firewall requires continuous visibility into all SaaS applications, their connections to each other, and across hybrid environments. I'm very excited to bring the Authomize team into Delinea, which greatly extends the reach and expands the role of the Delinea Platform to help organizations of all sizes reduce identity-related risk.“Broaden least privilege in the cloud, detect threats and reduce risks for all identitiesAuthomize CIEM empowers enterprises to extend least privilege controls into their cloud environments by continuously monitoring access privileges, usage changes, and connections between cloud services, SaaS applications, and IAM solutions. Adding Authomize ITDR will increase protection against threats across all identities by detecting abuse and responding to attacks.On the Delinea Platform, the enhanced capabilities will identify and address issues such as stale accounts, over-privileged identities, and privilege escalation paths, significantly bolstering cloud security by proactively detecting and mitigating threats while maintaining operational continuity. This approach will most effectively safeguard assets and data while reducing risk, all without introducing complexity.“This marks an exciting milestone in our mission to greatly enhance identification and mitigation of identity-based risks,” said Phil Calvin, Chief Product Officer at Delinea. “Our joint technologies will harness continuous monitoring and deliver adaptive and broad privilege controls, all within a consolidated cloud-native platform, ensuring awareness and response to protect identities and data.”Integrating ITDR and CIEM capabilities will extend the Delinea Platform’s ability to address modern PAM requirements as well as emerging use cases, including:Increase visibility of privilege across multi-cloud environments with the continuous discovery of all privileged accessContinuously monitor and protect all identities to detect threats and automatically mitigate risks in any application or serviceStreamline and accelerate security and compliance audits with automated User Access Reviews (UAR) and out-of-the-box policies“Joining Delinea is a thrilling continuation of our journey of innovation and Authomize’s commitment to detect and eliminate identity-based risks across the cloud,” said Authomize CEO Dotan Bar Noy.“Together, we will greatly expand and enhance privilege security across the enterprise, addressing the rising identity threats across the industry,” added Authomize CTO Gal Diskin.

180 Capital appoints Samer Abuzahra to lead its next growth phase

180 Capital, at the forefront of UAE's fintech industry, has today announced the appointment of Samer Abuzahra as its Chief Commercial Officer (CCO).Abuzahra will spearhead 180 Capital's business development, focusing especially on delivering innovative trading and investing solutions. He will leverage the collective expertise of 180 Capital's resources to redefine the industry in facilitating connectivity throughout the regional and global markets.Karim Farra and Ziad Aboujeb, co-founders of 180 Capital, said: “Under Samer Abuzahra’s leadership, we are confident that 180 Capital will continue to offer innovative fintech solutions that stand out on the capital markets, shift the paradigm in the trading and investing experience of clients, as well as boost efficiency and scalability for financial institutions.”With Abuzahra at the helm, 180 Capital is poised to unveil a new solution characterized by flexibility, modernity, and seamless integration. This initiative aims to offer a comprehensive multi-asset ecosystem that will encompass a diverse range of investment options, including MENA and international equities (with an emphasis on the US markets), as well as options, fixed income, funds, commodity futures, currencies, and cryptocurrencies. Designed to disrupt the sector, particularly for GCC financial services firms, it will provide global access to over 200 exchanges and counterparties.Leveraging a comprehensive technology stack and advanced features, the offering aims to be a complete solution for client management and operational efficiency. Emphasizing broker neutrality, it enables clients to select their preferred counterparties and customize their front-end interfaces using an extensive API stack.“As the Chief Commercial Officer at 180 Capital, I am thrilled to be able to spearhead the development of a trading and investing ecosystem that integrates the unique capabilities of the group, offering a holistic trading and investing solution to industry market participants,” said Abuzahra. “I look forward to contributing my extensive experience to create significant value to all our stakeholders.”Samer Abuzahra brings almost three decades of blue-chip industry experience. Prior to joining 180 Capital, he served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GTN Middle East and held several leadership positions at Thomson Reuters and HSBC. He holds a degree from Yarmouk University and has recently completed a senior executive leadership program at Harvard Business School.

Qvest, SRMG announce JV to drive media and technology innovation in Saudi Arabia

Qvest, the global leader in media-focused practices and services, and SRMG, the largest integrated media group from the MENA region, have agreed to establish a joint venture aimed at enhancing media, production and technology services in Saudi Arabia, encompassing foresight and innovation, change management, cloud adoption, data and analytics, media supply chain technologies and content distribution.Through Qvest’s comprehensive technology and project expertise and SRMG’s strong media operations and strategic positioning in the region, the joint venture will strategically support businesses within the vibrant Saudi Arabian market and beyond. Based in Riyadh, the joint venture has already started collaborating on its first projects, with the goal of becoming fully operational by the first half of 2024. The partners have also identified several other potential projects for the joint venture across media and entertainment, telecommunications, energy, industry, tourism, public sector and sports.This newly established joint venture is committed to ensuring that its business activities and growth are aligned with the demands of the country’s high-profile giga projects. The media and entertainment sector in the MENA region is projected to increase by 9% to exceed USD 20 billion by 2026, outpacing global growth. Notably, Saudi Arabia is the leading player within the regional media ecosystem, with nearly 30% of the market share. The industry’s progress, evolution and innovation are a key pillar of the country’s transformation plan, Vision 2030. As a direct result of this and other major developments, Saudi Arabia’s media industry is expected to grow by more than 10% annually by 2030.Mohammed Nazer, CFO and CIO of SRMG: “Establishing Qvest in Saudi Arabia through this joint venture represents an important step forward in elevating the media ecosystem in the MENA region. Over the next seven years, the local and regional media and entertainment sectors are set to significantly grow, led by Saudi Arabia. This partnership harnesses Qvest’s global expertise and SRMG’s regional strength, ensuring that we have the technological infrastructure in Saudi Arabia to bolster key industries like media and entertainment, telecommunications, energy, tourism, sports, and others.”The primary focus of this partnership includes projects situated in Saudi Arabia and collaborative endeavors with companies and organizations operating in Saudi Arabia. Qvest will provide its world-class practices and services in areas such as foresight and innovation, change management, cloud adoption, data & analytics, media supply chain technologies and content distribution. This will be supported by SRMG’s unrivalled expertise, extensive knowledge and wide-ranging capabilities within Saudi Arabia’s media and entertainment landscape. With this, the joint venture will help transform the nascent yet expanding media production industry in the country.Peter Nöthen, CEO of the Qvest Group: “We have been successfully implementing technology projects in the MENA region and are thus enablers of real innovation and progress in Saudi Arabia. With this joint venture, we will create a structure where SRMG, Qvest, and customers benefit equally and sustainably from expertise and insights. We will strengthen future-oriented businesses in this country and boost its enormous potential.”SRMG and Qvest already enjoy a strong working relationship, as the Qvest team was responsible for the systems integration of the full-IP based multi-platform TV station Asharq News Network in Riyadh and Dubai that supports state-of-the-art media and IT technology for Asharq’s live news coverage.

Carat MENA welcomes Alistair Burton as data & technology partnership lead

Carat, a dentsu company, today announced the appointment of Alistair Burton as Data & Technology Partnership Lead. In this newly created role, Alistair will play a pivotal part in enhancing Carat's proprietary data and technology solutions, managing key partnerships, and driving best practice to optimise data and technology utilisation for more effective communication strategies. Alistair will work closely across Carat’s client portfolio to reframe business challenges, marrying data and empathy to put the customer at the center in order to create mutually beneficial experiences. He will also leverage new partnerships, platforms and networks to design practices that magnify the number of relationships and touchpoints for?connecting with customers.  Commenting on his appointment, Ramzy Abouchacra, CEO, Carat MENA, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Alistair to the team. He’s a passionate and highly respected digital leader whose expertise will be invaluable in supporting our clients to respond to today’s ever evolving market. He will elevate how we build the most effective strategies and solutions, maximising how digital capability, data, and technology can solve the challenges of today and deliver a new understanding of how to perform even better for tomorrow.” With over 15 years of experience working in the industry, Alistair brings a wealth of expertise to Carat, having previously worked at Tealium and holding various leadership roles at Criteo, including Managing Director for the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. His extensive background also includes serving as the Regional Head of Digital Media at Initiative Media (MCN), working with renowned clients across verticals, including Majid Al Futtaim, AlShaya, Azadea, Emirates, Bayut, Property Finder, Etisalat, Samsung, Careem and Johnson & Johnson. Alistair added, "In an era where data is the new frontier, I'm thrilled to join Carat and empower brands to navigate the fast-changing landscape of data-driven marketing through technology and understanding customer behaviour. Together, we'll harness the power of insights to forge strategic partnerships, elevate our consulting capabilities, and propel our clients to the forefront of growth."

TOD unveils exclusive AFCON streaming packages for MENA audience

TOD, the premium sports and entertainment streaming platform in the MENA region, has announced exclusive packages for the highly anticipated TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Côte d’Ivoire 2023TM tournament. Football enthusiasts across the region can immerse themselves in the action, with AFCON taking place from January 13 to February 11.TOD is set to stream the fierce competition and captivating football from AFCON 2023, hosted by Ivory Coast, featuring 24 teams, including notable favorites like Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, and Nigeria. AFCON 2023 also boasts a roster of football stars, eyes set on top favourite players like Vincent Aboubakar, the Cameroonian striker, Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen, Senegalese top scorer Sadio Mane, Algerian star player Riyad Mehrez, and the region’s favourite Mohamad Salah representing Egypt.By streaming the matches on TOD, viewers have the following advantages:Multilingual Coverage: Viewers are set to enjoy the matches in Arabic, English, and French, with a dedicated Arabic studio ensuring an inclusive and engaging experience for diverse audiences.Match Center Feature: The viewing experience will be elevated by the inclusion of constantly updated live stats alongside the match, powered by Opta, offering fans a deeper understanding of the game.Flexible Streaming: AFCON matches will be available both live and on-demand on TOD, across the device of their choice, allowing fans to catch every moment at their convenience. The platform's TOD 360 feature adds an interactive timeline and real-time stats, enhancing the overall viewing experience.TOD’s VP of Marketing and Sales, John Paul Mckerlie, emphasized, “TOD continues to set the standard for sports streaming in the MENA region, ensuring its subscribers enjoy a cutting-edge, immersive, and interactive football-watching experience. Our specific tournament-oriented package offers football fans the flexibility to watch their favourite teams, in premium HD viewing experience on the device of their choice - without having to depend on insecure channels, which may compromise viewers’ data and security."To explore these exciting streaming packages, football enthusiasts can visit the TOD website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marriott Hotel, Al Jaddaf welcomes chef Alaa Moustafa

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

Middle East startups warned that AI obsession can damage growth prospects

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

ValueMentor announces creation of new position: CEO-Middle East

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

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

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

Schneider Electric appoints Amel Chadli as the new Gulf Cluster President

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

Etisalat by e& and Cisco sign MoU

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

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

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

The Brill Collective appoints Tryph Greenwood as Director of Client Services

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

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

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

BeIN SPORTS reveals unrivalled plans for AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ambrane aims for 100 crore revenue in international markets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GroupM Forms ad innovation accelerator to power advertising experience

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

Nafisa Shams Academy concludes the Costumes in Cinematic Production

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