Superapp ayoba surpasses 25mln monthly active users

Cape town: Africa’s super app ayoba today announced the achievement of a significant milestone – surpassing the 25 million monthly active users’ mark as we celebrate our fourth anniversary. This is up from 20 million monthly active users in December 2022. The platform is available globally but has a strong a focus on the African continent. Among key territories are Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda and The Republic of Congo.“25 million is a significant milestone to pass on our fourth birthday,” says CEO Burak Akinci. "Our journey has been transformative, and the positive response from our users fuels our drive for innovation. Our users are at the heart of our progress, and we are grateful for their support.” So far in 2023, ayoba has focused on enhancing communication and content features. These have been well received, with a 35% increase in messages, and a 16% increase in both stories and VoIP calls. Users have viewed 88 million cards across all channels, in topics such as entertainment, education, food, fashion and more. "The first four months of 2023 was a period of significant growth and development for ayoba. We have improved our socialisation and messaging functionalities, enhanced our microapp experience and added many more features," Akinci says.The introduction of the new ‘explore’ landing page marks a significant advance for the ayoba’s Android version. This page, currently in pilot phase, will be rolled out to all key territories in the future. It brings a simplified design for easy navigation through ayoba’s curated high-quality content and highlights our themes to our users.The microapp’s vertical has also seen significant evolution in Q1 at ayoba, as a direct shortcut to the vertical has been added on the bottom navigation bar. This section, referred to as an evolving ‘ecosystem for small African business’ – and some larger ones – allows service providers easy access to the existing ayoba user base with minimal effort. The most popular microapps currently are ‘live scores’ (allowing users to get the latest sports scores), ‘ayoba gifting’, ‘video play apps’, sports, and shopping. Born out of a partnership with MTN, ayoba is available on all networks. In certain participating territories, users on ayoba receive complimentary daily data, amplifying its value proposition*. Ayoba’s growth trajectory has it on track to achieve 100 million monthly active users by 2025 in line with MTN’s Ambition 2025 strategy.Link to Ayoba 4th Birthday Video*VoIP and video call are not zero rated for MTN subscribersDistributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Ayoba.

Redington Gulf and Google Cloud to accelerate cloud journeys

Dubai:  Redington, an integrated technology solutions provider, has announced a new partnership with Google Cloud, a suite of leading cloud computing services offered by Google Cloud. The latest milestone partnership will see Redington working in close quarters with its extensive and highly qualified channel partners to accelerate the adoption of Google Workspace and Google Cloud across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.Regional customers are increasingly investing in cloud applications and services as they implement cloud-first strategies to ensure seamless business growth and continuity. Customers are seeking experts to support their transition to cloud-led models and Redington along with its channel ecosystem are perfectly positioned to do so.A renowned cloud leader in the region and serving customers from across SMBs, public sectors and enterprises, Redington has built a successful and thriving cloud practice for its partner community over the last few years. The company’s vision is to be the most valued consulting distributor across the globe to simplify cloud adoption. To achieve this, Redington is offering a unified platform that integrates its capabilities and offerings together with its community of partners and vendors to deliver unparalleled excellence. The company has also created competencies to ensure highest levels of seamless and enhanced experiences for the cloud community.Redington is continuously enhancing its proprietary CloudQuarks platform for cloud subscriptions, renewals, and billing, which play a central role in enabling partners operating across the region to bring solutions to market quickly and efficiently. TrackMyCloud (TMC), a key component of CloudQuarks, is an intelligent SaaS platform designed to be an all-in-one solution to manage complex, sophisticated cloud. TMC offers a bouquet of five solutions with 800+ features, simplifying monitoring and optimization of spends, done on managing the cloud infrastructure. The vendor agnostic and user-friendly platform allows partners to build their cloud capabilities and expand their value-added services for customers across industries.Moreover, Redington, besides its large-scale partner network, has created a close-knit ecosystem of cloud-native Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), helping partners to offer enhanced experiences for their customers with innovative solutions in the cloud space.From new business models to bespoke tools and specialised services, Redington has made itself indispensable to partners and continues to empower them to support customers’ cloud goals.Viswanath Pallasena, Chief Executive Officer, Redington Middle East and Africa said, “Over the last few years, we have strengthened our cloud capabilities and introduced cloud-specific enablement programs for our channel partners – and today we are a clear market leader in the space. With the addition of a world-class solution suite like Google Cloud, we are now better equipped than ever before to cater to the regional cloud demands and accelerate cloud adoption and transformation journeys. We look forward to a long lasting and successful collaboration with Google Cloud.”“As global enterprises accelerate their digital transformation journeys, knowledge and expertise in Google Cloud technologies play a critical role in successful enterprise cloud migration,” said Eric Buck, director of commercial partners and global distribution, Google Cloud. “By expanding its global support of Google Cloud offerings across the MENA Region, Redington Gulf is able to provide more organizations with greater access to the cloud experts and technologies that will ultimately drive more positive business outcomes.”

Leading proptech start-up Stella Stays appoints new member of the BOD

Dubai: Stella Stays, the leading Middle Eastern proptech start-up with the mission the reinvent rentals globally and the vision to create the future of living, has appointed His Excellency Faras Al Ramahi, UAE Director-General of the General Pension and Social Security Authority (GPSSA) and former CEO of Abu Dhabi Investment Company to its Board of Directors. H.E. Al Ramahi’s key experience and insights in private equity and real estate allows the company to further excel in its financial objectives and accelerate expansion, leveraging his background of 26 years in asset management, corporate finance and investment banking. H.E. Al Ramahi was the Chief Executive Officer of Invest AD - Abu Dhabi Investment Company, having held this position for five years leading to July 2021. H.E. Al Ramahi comments on his new position at Stella Stays: “I am overjoyed to have witnessed Stella Stays’ exponential growth and look forward to its bright future. The company is a successful start-up story of the Middle East and is redefining the future of living by reinventing rentals globally and building technology infrastructure for residential real estate. I am confident they will continue striving.”Mohammed Al Ghussein, Chairman of Stella Stays, comments, “With the support of H.E. Al Ramahi’s strategic advice and expert opinion, we are projecting exponential growth for Stella Stays, strengthening our pioneer and market leader position of the new “residential hospitality” category in our core MENA markets and pursue aggressive regional and global expansion plans in 2023.”Stella Stays is disrupting rentals globally with its innovative business model and key offerings of tech-enabled branded residences. The company offers residents, business travellers, and holidaymakers a seamless ‘Show Up and Start Living’ experience in major cities around the world. The company is recognised for its innovative approach, providing consumers with on-demand furnished apartments and a community-driven lifestyle with modern services. Residents and guests at Stella Stays can navigate the entire journey, from booking, checking in, and controlling smart home systems, to ordering guest services on the Stella Stays mobile app. The company further simplifies the rental experience by offering flexible payment terms, which can be made through various methods, including debit, credit cards and crypto payments. On the real estate supply side, Stella Stays comes in as a one-stop-shop for property owners, real estate developers and investors to monetize their properties. The company offers master leases or profit-sharing agreements; while infusing the latest technology to increase operations efficiency, allowing for up to 40% higher return than traditional residential or hospitality tenants.Set to become the world’s most-loved residential hospitality brand, Stella Stays has witnessed exponential growth and is now present in seven markets across MENA, Europe and North America since its inception only three years ago. The company currently operates in UAE, KSA, Turkey, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Kingdom, and Canada with more than 1,500 contracted units. The proptech start-up is profitable and cash flow positive.

Media.Monks appoints Youssef Hallal as Head of Data and Analytics

Dubai: Media.Monks, a global creative production company that collaborates with advertising and creative agencies to design digital advertising and marketing campaigns, has appointed Youssef Hallal as Head of Data and Analytics, MENA. This move aims to strengthen Media.Monks' data and analytics capabilities in the MENA region.Hallal comes to Media.Monks from Wunderman Thompson, where he served as Head of Analytics, establishing a data and analytics department. In his new role, Hallal will concentrate on building the entire data ecosystem, including data architecture, BI, data activation, collection, synchronisation, CDPs, and CRM.Commenting on his appointment, Hallal noted the significant need for advanced data capabilities in the region. Media.Monks is one of the few companies in the area that can provide extensive capabilities in combination with content, data, and digital media and technology services, delivering a complete service offering. He looks forward to collaborating with his new colleagues and clients to increase efficiency across organisations.Nelly Saad, Managing Director of Media.Monks Middle East, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Youssef as the new Head of Data and Analytics for MENA. His extensive experience and expertise in data analytics and digital transformation will help us continue to expand our data and analytics capabilities in the region, delivering cutting-edge solutions that leverage the power of data to drive business growth for our clients.”

US Mission & startAD host ceremony for UAE's 3rd Academy for Women Entrepreneurs

Dubai: startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based global accelerator powered by Tamkeen and anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), along with the US Mission to the UAE, held a closing ceremony on May 10 at the NYUAD campus to mark the completion of the third UAE edition of the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) UAE program.AWE UAE is organized by the US Mission to the UAE, in partnership with startAD. It is designed for female-owned SMEs to fulfil their economic potential, creating conditions for increased stability, security, and prosperity for all. Over the last three years, AWE UAE businesses have become an integral part of the local economy, having cumulatively generated USD 41 million in revenue, raised USD 7.5 million in funding, and created 481 jobs. This year’s cohort featured eight UAE businesses: that have advanced their ventures and secured more than 1,600 partnerships since the start of the program. The teams showcased their pitches with an action plan to thrive in rapidly evolving market conditions to members of the UAE innovation ecosystem. The AWE UAE businesses are:House of Pops: Offers 100 percent natural, clean label, vegan ice cream pops made from real fruits, with authentic taste.Fruitful Day: A health-based cafe offering fresh fruit and snacks delivered directly to customers across the UAE.BoHo: A hair salon focusing on bringing education about sustainable beauty to the forefront of the industry.Urban Circle: An online platform connecting parents with handpicked, vetted, and qualified kids related service providers in UAE.Spill the Bean: A coffee shop offering 100 percent organic and fair-trade specialty coffee, wholesome treats, and community meets.The Broth Lab: A healthy restaurant focusing on free range, hormone, and antibiotic-free, fresh, locally sourced products.Kinetic Brands: An independent brand and digital experience consultancy led by award-winning creative and strategic minds.GroCart: A smart B2B wholesale marketplace, transforming a centuries-old industry with incredible technology.Robin Solomon, Public Affairs Counselor, U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi, said: “We are proud to partner with startAD to bring the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs to the UAE. Since 2020, startAD has supported 64 women business owners and 29 businesses in the UAE through the AWE program. AWE gives enterprising women the knowledge, networks, and access they need to launch and scale successful businesses. We look forward to continuing to work with UAE-based organizations to promote women's economic opportunities.”Senior Associate Director of startAD Hana Barakat said: “Our third AWE program in partnership with the US Mission to the UAE has once again proved to be an inspiring and instructive experience for the startups and the regional business community. The program is actively narrowing the gender gap in the market, evident through the success the entrepreneurs have achieved already since participating in the program.”“These successes reflect a wider trend in the UAE, where female entrepreneurship has boomed, with a 68 percent growth in the number of women in the UAE starting their own businesses between 2019 and 2020. This is encouraging news, and we look forward to supporting this new generation of business owners in building a more inclusive future.”Ola Sinno, business entrepreneur and Owner of Spill the Bean commented: “The AWE program allowed me to step away from day-to-day operations and to re-examine the business from a birds eye perspective. Upon doing so, I gained clarity and the courage to make the moves I have known for a while that I needed to make to take my business where it needs to go. More than anything, AWE provided me with the support, validation, and network that will ensure that my business is on the right track to reach the goals I have set for it and to exceed them.”Banu Cetin Akca, Co-founder of the Urban Circle, said: “Our participation in the AWE program has been instrumental for our growth in the last quarter. We were able to make the right moves to scale up our business considerably and I can confidently say that this was the biggest catalyst in our startup journey. Starting from the validation of our value proposition and structuring our business perspectives to enriching our network and partnerships, accessing mentorship with industry gurus and enabling discussions with like-minded start-up owners, we received immense help whenever requested.”The closing ceremony for AWE UAE featured a panel discussion moderated by Christina Struller, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, UPS on the topic of Leadership: from Zero to Infinity, where panellists discussed ways to build a strong team culture and how to help employees to advance and to retain top talent as well as the new trends, tools and resources that entrepreneurs can leverage to optimize current operations and help scale their business. Farah Al Mazrui, Head of Investments, Aliph Capital; Theresa Wernery, Founder and GM, Trident Trackway and AWE Alumnus; and Kate Midttun, Founder & CEO, Acorn Strategy were among the industry experts who shared their insights and expertise during the panel discussion. Program partners include Grow.ME International, and ItsHerWay.The US State Department established AWE as an exchange program in 2019 to empower women with the knowledge, networks, and access they need to launch or scale successful businesses. Implemented in nearly 100 countries since 2019, AWE has empowered an estimated 25,000 women entrepreneurs around the world with the skills they need to reach their full economic potential.

PivotRoots secures the media contract for Urban Company

Dubai : Leading marketing and data-focused digital agency, PivotRoots, has recently announced its successful bid to secure the media contract for Urban Company in the UAE. As part of their role, PivotRoots will develop and execute data-driven strategies to strengthen Urban Company’s digital marketing efforts in the region.This achievement comes as PivotRoots continues to expand its marketing services and scale data offerings through PivotConsult. As the media agency for Urban Company, PivotRoots will oversee integrated media, branding, and performance marketing initiatives with the primary objective of boosting consumer acquisition and engagement. Additionally, through PivotConsult, the agency will help empower the media activation for the brand by providing deeper and automated insights to increase efficiencies and effectiveness consistently.  Nitesh Agarwal, Regional Head of Middle-East, Urban Company said, “We believe that our partnership with PivotRoots will help us achieve our goal of delivering exceptional experiences to our customers by enabling us to engage with our customers more effectively and efficiently. PivotRoots' data-driven approach and expertise in digital marketing aligns with our values, and we are confident that their innovative strategies will help us stay ahead of the curve. With their support, we aim to further strengthen our brand presence in the UAE market and provide our customers with a seamless experience.”Urban Company is a leading global provider of at-home services, with a presence in multiple countries including India, UAE, Singapore, KSA, and USA. The company initiated its international expansion in 2018 by launching in the UAE, starting with Dubai, and later expanding to Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. While initially offering cleaning services, Urban Company has now expanded its portfolio to include Beauty and Wellness, and Homes and Maintenance verticals, with cleaning, salon, and spa services being the most prominent and rapidly growing verticals.Yogesh Khanchandani, Co-Founder of PivotRoots stated: “Our goal since integrating PivotConsult into our planning approach has been to introduce innovative and transformative data-driven digital marketing strategies. With digital-first brands like Urban Company, we have the chance to demonstrate the powerful impact of data-driven campaigns”.PivotRoots will develop and execute a comprehensive digital marketing strategy to expand Urban Company UAE's presence within the target market, with a focus on reaching key audience segments such as Arabic, Western, and Asian expats at effective frequencies. The agency's strategy aims to improve the brand's recall value and capitalize on readily available digital opportunities to enhance its overall performance. PivotRoots will utilize a combination of data analytics and digital media efforts to drive the planning and thought process, which will serve as a critical driver in achieving the agency’s goals.

Data encryption from ransomware reaches highest level in four years

Dubai: Sophos, a global leader in innovating and delivering cybersecurity as a service, today released its annual “State of Ransomware 2023” report, which found that in 76% of ransomware attacks against surveyed organizations, adversaries succeeded in encrypting data. This is the highest rate of data encryption from ransomware since Sophos started issuing the report in 2020.The survey also shows that when organizations paid a ransom to get their data decrypted, they ended up additionally doubling their recovery costs ($750,000 in recovery costs versus $375,000 for organizations that used backups to get data back). Moreover, paying the ransom usually meant longer recovery times, with 45% of those organizations that used backups recovering within a week, compared to 39% of those that paid the ransom.Overall, 66% of the organizations surveyed were attacked by ransomware—the same percentage as the previous year. This suggests that the rate of ransomware attacks has remained steady, despite any perceived reduction in attacks.“Rates of encryption have returned to very high levels after a temporary dip during the pandemic, which is certainly concerning. Ransomware crews have been refining their methodologies of attack and accelerating their attacks to reduce the time for defenders to disrupt their schemes," said Chester Wisniewski, field CTO, Sophos.“Incident costs rise significantly when ransoms are paid. Most victims will not be able to recover all their files by simply buying the encryption keys; they must rebuild and recover from backups as well. Paying ransoms not only enriches criminals, but it also slows incident response and adds cost to an already devastatingly expensive situation,” said Wisniewski.When analyzing the root cause of ransomware attacks, the most common was an exploited vulnerability (involved in 36% of cases), followed by compromised credentials (involved in 29% of cases). This is in line with recent, in-the-field incident response findings from Sophos’ 2023 Active Adversary Report for Business Leaders.Additional key findings from the report include:In 30% of cases where data was encrypted, data was also stolen, suggesting this “double dip” method (data encryption and data exfiltration) is becoming commonplaceThe education sector reported the highest level of ransomware attacks, with 79% of higher education organizations surveyed and 80% of lower education organizations surveyed reporting that they were victims of ransomwareOverall, 46% of organizations surveyed that had their data encrypted paid the ransom. However, larger organizations were far more likely to pay. In fact, more than half of businesses with revenue of $500 million or more paid the ransom, with the highest rate reported by those with revenue over $5 billion. This could partially be due to the fact that larger companies are more likely to have a standalone cyber insurance policy that covers ransom payments“With two thirds of organizations reporting that they have been victimized by ransomware criminals for the second year in a row, we’ve likely reached a plateau. The key to lowering this number is to work to aggressively lower both time to detect and time to respond. Human-led threat hunting is very effective at stopping these criminals in their tracks, but alerts must be investigated, and criminals evicted from systems in hours and days, not weeks and months. Experienced analysts can recognize the patterns of an active intrusion in minutes and spring into action. This is likely the difference between the third who stay safe and the two thirds who do not. Organizations must be on alert 24x7 to mount an effective defense these days,” said Wisniewski.Sophos recommends the following best practices to help defend against ransomware and other cyberattacks:Strengthen defensive shields with:Security tools that defend against the most common attack vectors, including endpoint protection with strong anti-exploit capabilities to prevent exploitation of vulnerabilities, and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) to thwart the abuse of compromised credentialsAdaptive technologies that respond automatically to attacks, disrupting adversaries and buying defenders time to respond24/7 threat detection, investigation and response, whether delivered in-house or by a specialist Managed Detection and Response (MDR) providerOptimize attack preparation, including making regular backups, practicing recovering data from backups and maintaining an up-to-date incident response planMaintain good security hygiene, including timely patching and regularly reviewing security tool configurationsData for the State of Ransomware 2023 report comes from a vendor-agnostic survey of 3,000 cybersecurity/IT leaders conducted between January and March 2023. Respondents were based in 14 countries across the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific. Organizations surveyed had between 100 and 5,000 employees, and revenue ranged from less than $10 million to more than $5 billion.

Dubai economy and tourism's latest campaign for Indian market

Summer fun is back, and Dubai is inviting Indian family travellers to experience an unforgettable getaway enriched by the best offerings of the city. Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism launched its latest summer campaign starring veteran actress Poonam Dhillon and celebrity couple Divyanka Tripathi and Vivek Dahiya. The campaign video captures the destination’s bountiful outdoor and indoor activities one must experience with their family to make their holiday one to remember and treasured for a lifetime! The film’s core narrative celebrates family bonding as it brings together 3 generations in a unique storyline, where Poonam Dhillon is reflective of a relatable and sporting maternal figure who transports them into the diverse world of Dubai. The conceptualized campaign film, ‘Do you believe it?’ showcases Poonam Dhillon and her grandkids excitedly unravelling their adventure-filled day exploring the sun-soaked modern metropolis. With striking, colourful visuals of a plethora of activities like time travelling to the future in a shuttle spaceship at Museum of the Future, adrenaline pumping activities including the Edgewalk experience at Sky Views, desert drive on vintage four-wheel drives followed by a hot air experience chasing the clouds and finally concluding the day with record-breaking speeds at the Storm Coaster.  Talking about the campaign, Bader Ali Habib, Head of South Asia, Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism said: “With growing demand for family-friendly experiences among Indian travellers, we aim to showcase Dubai’s broad spectrum of offerings for all travellers, no matter what time of the year. With the onboarding of outbound Indian travellers this summer, we aim to showcase unique offerings in the city, which will entice visitors from all age-groups making it an exciting destination for the summer break. We are thrilled to launch this campaign in India and are confident that Indian family travellers will see immense value, as they continue to curate their summer itineraries.” “It has been an honour to collaborate with Dubai Tourism for their summer campaign. During the shoot, me along with my co-stars, especially the children, thoroughly enjoyed our visit, be it the hot air balloon rides or the desert safari, they truly brought alive the child in me. This culturally rich and vibrant destination has curated unique experiences for Indian travellers making it the ultimate destination for a perfect family getaway,”  Commented actor, Poonam Dhillon. Crowned as the No.1 global destination in the Tripadvisor? Travellers’ Choice Awards 2023 for a second successive year, the city offers a wide range of world-class attractions that ensure a leisurely and safe experience for the full family time in the city. If you’re travelling on a budget, travellers can now enjoy an unforgettable family getaway for less, as Dubai Economy & Tourism announces their incredible ‘Kids Go Free’ deals across the destination’s top hotels, most eye-catching hot spots, and attractions.

GACA issues license to CJ Logistics for e-commerce GDC in Saudi

Riyadh: The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) in Saudi Arabia has today signed an agreement with CJ Logistics to build a dedicated e-Commerce Global Distribution Center at Riyadh Integrated the Kingdom’s first Special Integrated Logistics Zone by 2024.CJ Logistics, a leading provider of logistics solutions worldwide, will build a Global Distribution Center at Riyadh’s Special Integrated Logistics Zone by 2024. The proposed facility is a state-of-the-art logistics center with a gross floor area of 18,000 square meters and a daily throughput capacity of 15,000 boxes. It will serve as a forwarding base and hub for logistics in the region, connecting the Middle East, Africa and Europe.CJ Logistics recently signed an eight-year long-term contract with iHub before establishing the Global Distribution Center. The new Center will offer international delivery of iHerb products to the Middle East, one of the largest online retailers for health and wellness products.Commenting on the issuance of the license, GACA President Al Duailej said:“On behalf of the General Authority of Civil Aviation, I am delighted to be issuing CJ Logistics with a license to operate today, which marks an important milestone for Riyadh Integrated - Saudi Arabia’s Special Integrated Logistics Zone. We look forward to CJ Logistics having a strong presence in the Kingdom, with this Global Distribution Center being their main hub in the region.“Riyadh Integrated is a testimony to the Saudi Aviation Strategy under Vision 2030, positioning the Kingdom as a global logistics hub connecting three continents to the Kingdom as our logistics sector is transformed.                                  “As a vital enabler for Saudi Arabia’s logistics sector, the Special Integrated Logistics Zone will strengthen Saudi Arabia’s position as the largest, fastest growing market and leading strategic trading nation in the Middle East and continue Vision 2030’s mission to connect the Kingdom to the world.”Kang Sin-ho, CEO of CJ Logistics, added:“The Saudi e-commerce market has the richest growth potential in the Middle East and the geographical advantage of connecting Africa, Middle East and Europe."We will spare no support for state-of-the-art logistics technology and infrastructure so that the GDC can become a logistics hub that leads the Middle East e-commerce market."The Special Integrated Logistics Zone was launched in October 2022 in Riyadh by HE the Minister of Transport & Logistics and the General Authority for Civil Aviation. The Zone is truly integrated, with a value proposition that has been developed alongside its first batch of investors.The strategically located Special Integrated Logistics Zone will serve billions of potential customers in easy reach in Africa, Asia and Europe and help to significantly increase Saudi’s cargo capacity to more than 4.5 million tons per annum. It will also strengthen Saudi Arabia’s competitive position as the largest, fastest growing and leading trading nation in the Middle East, continuing Vision 2030’s mission to connect the Kingdom to the world.As part of the wider transformation of the Kingdom’s logistics sector, by 2030 Saudi Arabia is significantly increasing its cargo capacity to more than 4.5 million tons per annum and increasing the contribution of the transport and logistics sector to national gross domestic product from the current six per cent to 10 per cent. This will help to fuel business growth, attract inward investment, and increase the sector’s non-oil revenues to about SR 45 billion ($12 billion) a year by 2030.

IBCAP Expands into Europe and Middle East with the Addition of Cricbuzz

Dubai: The International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy (IBCAP) today announced that it has expanded its anti-piracy coverage to include Europe and the Middle East with the addition of Times Internet Limited, India's largest digital network and owner of Cricbuzz.Cricbuzz, one of the world’s leading cricket content destinations, has become the official digital streaming partner for the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the MENA, Continental Europe and Latin America regions. With exclusive streaming rights for IPL 2023 in key countries, including Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden, cricket enthusiasts across the region can catch every thrilling moment of the tournament via digital streaming on the user-friendly Cricbuzz app. As part of the IBCAP membership offering, it will initially monitor multiple live cricket matches for the IPL 2023 tournament on behalf of Cricbuzz."We are thrilled to offer cricket fans across the MENA, Continental Europe and Latin America regions digital access to one of the most important tournaments in cricket, the Indian Premier League," said Pankaj Chhaparwal, CEO of Cricbuzz. "With IBCAP's support, we aim to combat unauthorized streaming and provide a great experience for our users."“As a recognized leader in protecting cricket rights in the United States, it is a natural progression to expand that expertise into additional countries across Europe and the Middle East,” said Chris Kuelling, executive director of IBCAP. “We look forward to showcasing the significant value we bring to members, like Cricbuzz, in delivering the resources and expertise necessary in the fight against piracy.”

Cyber-resilience needs improvement in UAE & KSA: Security leaders

Riyadh: Despite a continued increase in cybersecurity spending in the region, organizations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia remain ill-equipped to face down the cyber-menace. This was the key finding in a global report released by Trellix, the cybersecurity company delivering the future of extended detection and response (XDR).End-of-decade CAGRs for the GCC cybersecurity market have been revised upwards, from 5.9% in 2017 to as high as 7.6% last year. While this is a clear illustration of heightened interest in security matters at the board level, Trellix’s “Mind of the CISO” report shows that two thirds (66%) of CISOs in the UAE and KSA still believe their organizations lack the right people and processes to be cyber resilient and almost three quarters (74%) believe their current technology setup is insufficient.The research — which was conducted by Vanson Bourne across nine countries and surveyed 500 CISOs at companies with more than 1,000 employees — found that when it came to challenges around people, more than one in four CISOs in the UAE and KSA (26%) decried the lack of skilled talent, as well as their inability to recruit and retain this talent. More than one in five (22%) were concerned about a lack of buy-in from their board, and 30% cited lack of buy-in from other parts of their organization.From a process standpoint, some 38% of CISOs in the UAE & KSA said they lacked the freedom to communicate outside of their organization for learning purposes. A further 38% expressed frustration with their inability to respond quickly to changing regulatory frameworks and 18% said their processes were poorly designed or they were presented with too many sources of information to be adequately in control of their environment.“The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia rank consistently high on global maturity indexes for cybersecurity,” said Khaled Alateeq, Head of Middle East, Trellix. “This is because government entities have done a great job in laying out cybersecurity guidelines and regulations and introducing a wide array of skilling initiatives and incentives to attract top talent to the region. Now it is for talent but incumbent upon organizations to answer the call and support their CISOs. Our recent Mind of the CISO research is quite clear on what would make life easier for CISOs in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.”Asked for suggestions on how their enterprise’s senior leadership could help them overcome their challenges, half of CISOs in the UAE and Saudi Arabia said better engagement from such stakeholders would be a good start. And 38% said better understanding from the rest of the organization on issues of cybersecurity would help, with 32% calling for a strong support team to assist in their defense efforts.But predictably, technology continues to be the largest stumbling block between the regional CISO and their ideal threat posture. While two thirds (66%) said people and processes are holding them back from being cyber-resilient, nearly three in four (74%) — a whopping 25 percentage points higher than the global average — said the same of technology.The report showed further evidence that the strategy of multiple point solutions is out of date. When asked about their experiences with their current security tools and platforms, 38% described them as outdated, 30% said there were too many, and 34% said they did not work well together. Almost all (92%) of those polled across the two Gulf nations said their organization was using anywhere between 11 and 35 separate tools.“What comes across most in this study is not the lack of investment,” Alateeq added. “There are plenty of signs that commitments in this regard are on the rise, including the fact that only 36% of respondents cited budget and resource challenges. What emerges here is more of a misdirection of investment. We must ensure the right people and processes are in place for sure. But it is worrying is that amid all the budget increases, we are not yet seeing the right tech in place.”Alateeq continued: “CISOs are telling us plainly that ‘more solutions’ is not the answer. They need a platform approach that is open and capable of learning and adapting to build a proactive defense. CISOs and their teams must be able to see, protect, and resolve. They must be able to maximize visibility and peer into every corner of the enterprise. They must be able to have coverage of every asset and be equipped with unrivaled discovery speed when picking up on potential threats. And they must be able to automate their response across this connected security ecosystem to keep their organization from becoming the latest victim of the threat landscape.”

Saudi plans English news channel to rival Al Jazeera

Riyadh: A state-backed media group in Saudi Arabia is reportedly considering the launch of an international English-language news channel, with the aim of expanding the country's global media influence and potentially rivaling Qatar's Al Jazeera. The Saudi Research and Media Group has already contacted media consultancies to study the viability the proposed venture, according to Financial Times. While it is still early days, sources close to the project have suggested that the initiative could be well-funded, with the intention of spreading the word of Saudi Arabia around the world. However, others have suggested that the project will only go ahead if it is found to be financially viable. Saudi Arabia is currently seeking to rivl Dubai as the Gulf region's financial hub and is investing heavily in gigaprojects aimed at diversifying its economy away from petrodollars. The Saudi Research and Media Group already runs 36 titles, which include Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and Asharq News, which has partnered with Bloomberg. It has partnerships with The Independent and operates its Middle East editions. Saudi Arabia currently owns Al Arabiya, an Arabic broadcaster that rivals Al Jazeera Arabic and Sky News Arabia. While concerns have been raised about editorial freedom following the sale of a 30% stake in The Independent to a Saudi businessman in 2017, media analysts suggest that the Saudi government is using a similar strategy to Qatar, which has used Al Jazeera to raise its global profile.

UAE to host West Indies for three ODIs in June

Dubai: As part of their preparations for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, the West Indies men’s cricket team will play three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Sharjah next month.  The day-night matches will be played on Monday 5 June, Wednesday 7 June and Friday 9 June. Both teams will depart for Zimbabwe at the end of the series for their World Cup qualifying campaign which begins on 18 June. The all-important tournament will confirm the remaining two spots for the 10-team ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, India.  General Secretary of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), Mubashshir Usmani said: “We are delighted to host a former World Champion side like the West Indies ahead of the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe. In recent months, our team has produced some sensational performances in the ODI format which have helped raise UAE cricket’s profile.  “Our qualification for the tournament in Zimbabwe exemplifies our recent achievements. We want to ensure we provide the best possible preparation to our team and this series will most certainly help in achieving the goal. We look forward to welcoming the West Indian team. We want to thank Cricket West Indies for their continuous support towards cricket development in the UAE."Jimmy Adams, Director of Cricket for Cricket West Indies said: “This is our first ever bilateral tour against the UAE and we are pleased to have agreed this historic three-match ODI series as it will provide a good opportunity for our players to get some preparation ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier. “It will also allow those players not going to Zimbabwe to get some valuable experience at the international level in foreign conditions, which would be hugely beneficial to their growth and development. We are happy to work closely with the ECB to arrange the three matches and we see this as a partnership which can grow in the future.” UAE vs West Indies ODI series 5 June – UAE vs West Indies, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, UAE 7 June – UAE vs West Indies, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, UAE 9 June – UAE vs West Indies, Sharjah Cricket Stadium, UAE

Beyon announces appointment of Faisal Qamhiyah as CEO

Manama, Bahrain: Beyon Board of Directors has confirmed the appointment of Faisal Qamhiyah as CEO of Umniah in Jordan, following a meeting of the board of directors on Tuesday, May 9 at Beyon’s campus in Hamala. Umniah is part of the Beyon Group.Mr. Qamhiyah, who was appointed as Acting CEO of Umniah in November 2022, has employed his extensive experience gained over 20 years in the telecommunications and investments sector, to accelerate the implementation of the 5G project, making Umniah the first Jordanian telecom operator to deploy this service in Jordan.Prior to joining Batelco, part of the Beyon Group in 2012, Mr. Qamhiyah held the CFO role at Umniah, and among his earlier roles, he was the Chief Operating Officer at Zain Jordan and Director of Investments at Ern Capital. Mr. Qamhiyah is a Board member in several of Beyon’s telecoms, technology and digital companies in Europe, Asia and the Gulf region.The Board of Directors conveyed their best wishes to Faisal Qamhiyah in carrying out his new responsibilities and their confidence in his abilities to lead Umniah and achieve its business goals.

Saudi Esports Federation and Savvy Games Group

Riyadh: The Saudi Esports Federation (SEF) and Savvy Games Group (Savvy) today announced a significant partnership with a year-long sponsorship agreement that will showcase Savvy's brands across the entire SEF ecosystem, including Gamers Without Borders (GWB) and Gamers8: The Land of Heroes.This is the second year in a row that the two organizations have come together and following last year’s popular activations, Savvy and SEF will once again deliver exclusive on-ground and virtual experiences for gaming enthusiasts at this year’s highly anticipated events. The partnership also includes a series of initiatives designed to further Saudi Arabia’s mission to become a global hub for esports and gaming.Turki Al Fawzan, CEO at the Saudi Esports Federation, said: "It is with great pleasure that the Saudi Esports Federation unveils this historic agreement with Savvy Games Group. Last year, Gamers Without Borders and Gamers8 demonstrated the huge gaming market in Saudi Arabia and the enormous potential for growth for the industry. With the extension of the partnership this year, there is so much to look forward to, whether it be for Saudi Arabian gamers or gamers across the globe.”Brian Ward, Savvy Games Group CEO, said: “At Savvy, we are committed to driving the long-term growth and development of the global esports and games industry. We are excited to continue working closely with SEF to bring gaming enthusiasts an unforgettable experience and support its mission to build the largest esports festival in the world.”GWB, the world’s largest charitable esports event, returned for the fourth consecutive year for six weeks from April 10. Held virtually by SEF, GWB serves as a qualifier for Gamers8: The Land of Heroes, the biggest esports and gaming festival worldwide, which takes place in Riyadh for eight weeks this summer beginning July 6.In addition to GWB and Gamers8: The Land of Heroes, Savvy will be the presenting partner for SEF assets such as the Saudi eLeagues, Next World Forum, Voices of Saudi Esports, SEF Awards, Arab League, Gaming Centers’ Face-Off, Saudi Esports Academy, Esports Federation Championship, and Marhala Podcast. Savvy will also be a strategic partner for the National Esports Team.GWB has a charity prize pool of $10 million. To support GWB, visit the Gamers Without Borders website to donate and make a difference. To stay up to date with the latest event updates and news, follow on Twitter (@gwbps_en), Instagram (@gwbps_en), Snapchat (@gwbps), Facebook (@gwbps), YouTube (@gwbps).

LUSH Dubai Mall store reopens with a fresh new look

Dubai,: LUSH, the ethical beauty brand proudly creating vegetarian and cruelty free products for 27 years and counting, is thrilled to announce the reopening of its first concpet store in Dubai Mall. The visually exquisite store that opened on April 7th, 2023, features an updated concept and design that draws inspiration from LUSH stores around the world, including a Harajuku wall inspired by the Japanese store and a Fine Fragrance section inspired by the Oxford Street store in London. The store also features a perfume area that highlights LUSH's extensive range of perfumes and body sprays.LUSH is also proud to announce that the Dubai Mall store is the first concept store in the MENA region to feature an entirely lanolin-free product range. As a vegetarian company, LUSH has been diligently working to phase out the use of lanolin in its products, which is derived from animals. The store countertops are made from recycled workshop materials, further showcasing LUSH's commitment to sustainability. Mark Constantine, one of the six founders of LUSH, also had input in the store's design, ensuring that it reflects the brand's values and ethos."Dubai is the hub for the entire region so knowing that it is definitely going to elevate our brand exposure in the GCC. We are taking concepts from Japan, London to name a few and bringing those amazing elements together in our store. The new concept and innovative design by LUSH are really going to showcase to our customers the future of LUSH on a global scale. I mean we have not been able to refit our Dubai mall shop for a few years now so getting this chance is great, we are very excited!" – said Miche Whitehouse, Head of Brand & Digital at LUSH Cosmetics.

Laura Alina Dragu on her journey to success, ventures, investment strategies

Laura Alina Dragu is a versatile and accomplished entrepreneur hailing from Romania. With a diverse range of expertise spanning precious metal trading, real estate, technology, and various other fields, Laura has carved a successful path for herself in the business world.Her exceptional trading skills and record-breaking sales volumes earned her recognition at the regional level. Drawing from her background as an Expert United Marines Services member and a Green Energy Solutions provider in Italy, Laura brought a unique perspective to her trading ventures.Beyond her prowess in trading, the 35-year-old Laura has displayed her entrepreneurial acumen as a sole proprietor and partner in several companies. She co-founded Healthy Habits, an online marketplace application dedicated to promoting fitness and healthy living. She also owned Lauren Domino, a beauty salon and spa, and served as the owner of "Chi Cerca Trova Magazine," a prominent advertising agency.Laura's achievements extend far beyond the business realm. She has shattered gender stereotypes by excelling in various fields traditionally dominated by men. As an accomplished motorsports events organiser, she has demonstrated her organisational skills and passion for the automotive industry. Additionally, Laura is an equestrian skilled in show jumping and dressage, showcasing her talent and discipline in the world of horses.Her diverse talents also encompass the world of modelling, having been trained at the renowned John Casablancas School & Agency and was crowned Miss Italy for Foreigners Beauty Competition in 2011. Moreover, Laura is a trained Mixed Martial Artist, specialising in Brazilian JiuJitsu and Muay Thai, exemplifying her dedication to physical fitness and martial arts.In this interaction, Laura Alina Dragu speaks with Nehal Shukla, Senior Correspondent, Adgully, about her journey as an entrepreneur, how she balances her business and much more. Excerpts:Can you tell us about your journey from co-founding a beauty salon & spa to becoming a successful real estate and precious metal investor? How do you manage to balance your various business ventures and roles effectively?My journey started off in the way that most girls dream of; it’s even more beautiful now as I am grateful for how far I have come. It wasn’t an easy one; I faced a lot of challenges as a young entrepreneur who never settled for less.I always wanted to be a person of value in society, and by opening my beauty salon, I automatically felt like I was on the right path. I was able to make people happy by working on their appearance, but what made this mission special was that I also cared about their mood. Seeing women come to my salon with problems or tension, and then watching them leave feeling more beautiful both inside and out, made me feel successful.While visiting the UAE for a seminar, I received an offer to work in Dubai. It was an exciting opportunity that I decided to take, and once I arrived in Dubai, I quickly settled in and embraced this new chapter of my life.With time passing, I became more exposed to other opportunities that life had to offer and this opportunity came right before the covid pandemic. At the time I realised that there is great potential in precious metals and real estate. I started my investment in real estate and precious metals. As soon as I understood how it worked, I started training myself in this field and that’s how I became a real estate and precious metal investor.What motivated you to start Healthy Habits Company, and how did you grow it into a successful business?Healthy Habits represents my lifestyle.From the very beginning, I have always aimed to live the lifestyle that I've dreamed of, whether it be as a model, businesswoman, advisor, or mother. Whenever I look at myself in the mirror, my goal is to like what I see.In order to sustain that very smile on a daily basis, since the beginning I understood that I need to invest in myself and give time in order to consistently inculcate a lifestyle that is not only healthy, but also a reflection of my true self onto others.We all know that this lifestyle isn’t easy to sustain consistently for the majority of people out there.Creating Healthy Habits was born out of a desire to make it easy for people to maintain a healthy lifestyle within their daily routine without facing restrictions or stereotypes that they may have formed in their minds. In particular, we aim to solve the stereotype of a healthy lifestyle being difficult to maintain for the majority of people.As an investor, what do you look for in a potential investment opportunity?When it comes to investing, the major risk is the possibility of losing money. Risk is not the same as uncertainty. An investment that’s certain to lose money will usually carry less risk than one where you’re unsure about how much you’ll lose or whether or not you’ll even lose anything.Here are six important facts to consider before you decide to invest your money:- Assess the level of risk in a particular investment- Evaluate the potential return from the investment- Compare the merits of the investment to other investment opportunities- Analyse the duration required to reap an investment’s benefits- Determine whether you have the expertise needed to manage an investment- When investing, it is important to ensure that your investments are not too risky for your needs, but also not so conservative that they won't yield a sufficient return.To conclude, investing is a skill that requires time, practice, and knowledge. There’s no magic formula for success; you must learn from experience. If you follow these steps, you’ll be on the right track toward making sound investment decisions!How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the real estate and precious metal markets?I came to understand that generational wealth can really be built by either real estate or through the precious metal industry, which are both safe investments that grow and appreciate in value. Romania is amongst the top countries in Europe today for investors to invest. Also, at the same time, I learned that you do not want to have all eggs in one basket and that's how I came to my second best bet which is the precious metals industry (specifically gold).Today, we all know that governments and banks across the world at large have these two investments to essentially run and save their economies. You have the real estate industry, which also has the same intrinsic value as the gold and precious metals industry. Although the world may view them as basic, these investments are perfect examples of worthwhile long-term investments. I can attest to this from my personal experience over the last decade. My net worth today is mainly attributed to my investments in precious metals and real estate over the years. I believe that these investments will continue to appreciate in value in the foreseeable future, and I place my bets on them accordingly.Can you tell us about a particularly challenging situation you faced in your career and how you overcame it?When we’re children, we believe we can do anything. Yet somewhere on the journey to adulthood, self-doubt creeps in and we begin to question our abilities.As a child, I remember wanting to be an artist. I would spend hours painting, drawing, exploring my talents and being as creative as possible. It was a huge dream of mine and I wanted to create styles and designs that people would love and cherish.However, as I got older, my peers began telling me things like:You can’t make money as an artist.You need a career.Art is just a hobby, you need a proper job.The problem with all of us is sharing our unconscious stereotypical biassed opinions in a way that we want or were taught as a child. We hear consistent rhetoric and then we retain the same in our minds., limiting our beliefs as adults!This is how self-doubt is formed and we begin to build our own limiting beliefs.How many times have you told yourself you cannot do something?How many times have you believed you weren’t qualified enough?How many times have you passed up the opportunity of a lifetime because you thought weren’t good enough?This is self-doubt holding you back from chasing your goals and pursuing your dreams.When was the last time we looked in the mirror and asked ourselves why do we always blame others?Introspection is key to recognizing which emotions or situations may cause us to react in a certain way, which can ultimately lead us far away from our desired outcomes. It is imperative to reflect on these patterns in order to build the best versions of our imagined future selves.At the age of 35, thanks to the lessons I have learnt, I am grateful to the ones that wronged me, as without them I would not have a reason to find my present, which might not please everyone! But sure keeps me happy!Cause I know that I am the absolute best and I know I am doing everything I can to make me, my best evolved self!As a successful woman entrepreneur, how do you view the current state of women's entrepreneurship and gender diversity in the business world?Women are demanding more from work, and they’re leaving their companies in unprecedented numbers to get it. Women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rates we’ve ever seen—and at higher rates than men in leadership.That could have serious implications for companies. Women are already significantly underrepresented in leadership roles. For years, fewer women have risen through the ranks because of the “broken rung” at the first step up to management. Now, companies are struggling to hold onto the relatively few women leaders they have. And all of these dynamics are even more pronounced for women of colour.The reasons women leaders are stepping away from their companies are telling. Women leaders are just as ambitious as men, but at many companies, they face headwinds that signal it will be harder to advance. They’re more likely to experience belittling microaggressions, such as having their judgement questioned or being mistaken for someone more junior. Employers are increasingly prioritizing employee well-being and fostering inclusion, but this critical work is spreading them thin and often goes unrewarded. Additionally, women leaders are placing increasing importance on working for companies that prioritize flexibility, employee well-being, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).If companies don’t take action, they risk losing not only their current women leaders but also the next generation of women leaders. Young women are even more ambitious and place a higher premium on working in an equitable, supportive, and inclusive workplace. They’re watching senior women leave for better opportunities, and they’re prepared to do the same.

Ripple expands in the Middle East

Dubai : On the back of strong growth in the Middle East, Ripple, the leader in enterprise blockchain and crypto solutions, is expanding its presence in Dubai by opening a new office location in the heart of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and bringing Swell Global 2023, the seventh edition of its annual customer conference, to Dubai on November 8-9.Ripple has long focused on serving customers around the world with over 90% of the company’s business outside the US. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is a key market for the company, with around 20% of all RippleNet customers, such as SABB, Qatar National Bank, Lulu Financial Holdings, Al-Ansari Exchange, and RAK Bank, based here. Over half of Ripple’s MENA payment volume consists of cross-border payments such as remittances from the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to India. In 2020, the company chose the DIFC as the location for its MENA headquarters due to Dubai’s innovation-forward regulations, expansive network and reputation as a leading global financial centre.“We chose Dubai as both a key office for Ripple, and to bring Swell Global to the city, in large part due to its forward-thinking regulatory environment. Regulators here have risen to the challenge of establishing a framework that allows the local crypto industry to thrive, create jobs and increase economic growth, while also ensuring participants act in a responsible manner, ” said Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple CEO. “Dubai is playing an important part in shaping the world’s future economy. By demonstrating truly visionary leadership, the Emirate has positioned itself as an exciting fintech hub that is embracing crypto and blockchain technologies to bring innovation and foreign investment into the space.“In late 2021, Ripple announced the launch of its first-ever On-Demand Liquidity (ODL) deployment in the Middle East, with Pyypl, the international blockchain-based financial services technology company in the Middle East and Africa. ODL leverages the digital asset XRP to underpin instant and low-cost cross-border payments. By using ODL, financial institutions and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) can leverage previously trapped, pre-funded capital to grow and scale their businesses. Billions of dollars have been transacted to and from MENA customers through ODL since launch.“In a hyper-global connected world, the need for cross-border payments is on the rise, with an estimated $156T worth of cross-border payment flows in 2022 alone. As a region containing a number of significant remittance markets and corridors, the Middle East’s financial institutions are focused on making payments faster, cheaper and more efficient for the people who need it the most. This is where Ripple excels. We were the first enterprise company to leverage crypto to tackle the trillion-dollar challenges associated with cross-border payments – expertise that we have been bringing to our customers in the Middle East for a number of years. Ripple is proud of its presence in the UAE and we are excited about what the future holds for our business in the region,” said Navin Gupta, Managing Director, South Asia & MENA, at Ripple.When Swell Global lands in Dubai, it will follow previous successful events which saw hundreds of Ripple’s customers and partners come together in London and Singapore, two other major global financial centres. The conference announcement comes as Ripple’s CEO Brad Garlinghouse arrives in Dubai to appear as a keynote speaker at Dubai Fintech Summit 2023. Garlinghouse will take the main stage alongside other global thought leaders, decision-makers and policymakers from the worlds of fintech, finance and crypto.

Mirchi Dubai's Preeti Phalke on AI host and the bright future of radio

In this exclusive interview, Preeti Phalke, Director of Programming for Mirchi Dubai, speaks to BF Firos, Associate Editor at Adgully, about the station's use of AI technology for their radio presenter, AIRAH, and how it has been received by the audience and advertisers.She also shares Mirchi's approach to content creation and staying relevant in the UAE's competitive radio market, as well as the unique advantages that traditional FM radio stations offer compared to streaming platforms. Preeti also speaks about the role of technology in the evolution of radio and the future of the entertainment industry as a whole. She also shares the station's plans for future growth and expansion.Preeti is sure that radio is here to stay in spite of streaming platforms. According to her, the biggest difference between radio and streaming platforms is the human touch. "Especially when people are away from home, a radio station that speaks their language can comfort them in ways unknown," Preeti says. Excerpts:Can you tell us more about AIRAH, the world's first AI presenter on a commercial radio station? How does it work, and what inspired the creation of AIRAH?Airah stands for Artificial Intelligence Radio Host. She is a voice clone of our radio presenter Sanchari. We are using a text-to-speech AI voice technology. The major reason for introducing Airah was our jock Sanchari went on maternity leave and it did not make sense to hire someone temporarily and for the interim.How has the audience/stakeholders like advertisers responded to the launch of "Mirchi on AI" and the addition of AIRAH? Have you noticed any changes in listener engagement or feedback?Airah has managed to create a buzz and intrigue in the market for sure. Advertisers at first were unsure, but many technology-fronted or inclined companies are coming forward to advertise on the show. We are also getting rave reviews from listeners. The general lack of knowledge about AI has some listeners doubting that AI will replace real presenters. The majority has welcomed this fresh change.The UAE is home to a very active FM radio listening community. Mirchi is known for its diverse and engaging content across languages. How does the station approach content creation, and what sets it apart from other radio stations in the UAE?Mirchi in the UAE comes with its legacy from India. While all radio stations play popular Hindi film music, Mirchi in the UAE has the freshest jocks, and we try to focus on content relevant to the South Asian expats in the country. We are more Bollywood-centric as well.The radio industry has faced many challenges in recent years, such as the pandemic and the rise of digital media and streaming services. How has Mirchi adapted to these changes and continued to remain relevant in today's market?To begin with, radio did not suffer so much during the pandemic. With the lack of new TV content, OTT still being unaffordable to many, radio was the only source of entertainment. In the UAE, jocks were live unlike in India. They were essential workers according to the government here. Programming was more focused on giving out relevant information about the situation, defying any myths around the virus and entertaining a mass away from home and locked up. It was a tough phase. But radio is always the trusted medium in times of crisis.About staying relevant, innovation is the key, always. The radio consumption patterns have changed dramatically post pandemic, and radio, being a live medium, was quick to adapt to it. People were more into nostalgia (the reason why Friends, Ramayan and Mahabharat were re-watched) they sought comfort in the old things and Mirchi could give them that via music and talk. Now they want to feel alive and Mirchi has returned with full glory on ground with events, contests and travel. We have created a show where the listeners get to host an hour on radio on weekends.What unique advantages do traditional FM radio stations offer when compared to streaming platforms? And what strategies do you use to keep your content fresh and engaging for your audience, especially in a market as competitive as the UAE's?Streaming platforms are just music playlists without the talk. The biggest difference between radio and them is the human touch. Especially when people are away from home, a radio station that speaks their language can comfort them in ways unknown. During the pandemic, RJs would open lines for people to talk with them. It was their only respite.In a market where there are 56 frequencies in all languages imaginable., Mirchi has stood out for its pioneering ideas. We have taken 30 listeners on an all-expense paid trip to European destinations; we did concerts to engage with listeners and also went to schools and colleges for a musical talent hunt. All of this is to build our one-on-one connect.Can you speak about the role that technology has played in the evolution of radio? How do you see technology continuing to shape the future of radio and the entertainment industry as a whole?In the AIR days, presenters would manually play spool tapes, then later, began queuing CDs until Mirchi came and introduced radio computing software that enabled presenters to play everything from music to ads in a pre-fed computer programme. No other medium has adapted to technology like radio has. Whether we want to admit it or not, technology is an inevitable part of our lives. Telephone devices getting smarter is keeping the entertainment industry on its toes. With new innovations like smart homes, immersive technologies, ChatGPT etc, people are indulging themselves with technology more than ever. I think the next big steps in entertainment tech will be Holographic movie projections. Radio is already on its way to becoming more visual. Presenters are SEEN as much as heard, AI will enable personalisation may be in the future perhaps enabling targeted advertising.Contrary to popular fear, technology is only here to make us work smartly instead of taking the long route. AI voices will open a wide horizon of possibilities for radio. To me, the way I see it is, jocks can go on leaves without having to worry their replacement will be loved more than them.Mirchi has been a leader in the radio industry for over a decade. What do you attribute to the station's success, and what are your plans for future growth and expansion?Mirchi UAE has big plans for the future. One such area of focus would be IPs; we are actively getting into scalable associations that bank on real-time engagement. We are currently in the middle of the first junior edition of Mirchi Jam. After an immensely successful season of Mirchi Jam the university edition, we have opened the stage for MIRCHI Jam junior, which will feature talented school student performances from across the UAE. We intend on driving the station and its potential with more of these innovative concepts as they build a higher recall with our listeners and advertisers alike. A lot more technological innovations are in store which will be revealed with time.Can you tell us about any upcoming projects or initiatives that Mirchi is working on in the region? What can listeners expect in the coming months and years?Mirchi listeners can expect a lot of new exciting events this year. The Mirchi UAE listeners will get to experience a whole new product with some fresh young voices. A lot more buzz from the AI presenter as well.

New report unravels the potential of metaverse in MENA

Dubai: Metaverse could unlock revenue and innovation in key growth sectors in the MENA region, according to a report "The Metaverse and its potential for MENA," prepared by Deloitte LLP for Meta Platforms, Inc. The MENA region is undergoing rapid change, with hydrocarbon-rich countries seeking sustainable growth through diversification and ambitious transformation plans. Digitalization is at the heart of these plans, with countries targeting it as a key driver of development. In parallel, consumers and business communities across the region are increasingly open to digital technologies.Based on projections of metaverse?related ICT investment globally, this study estimates that metaverse technologies could eventually support an annual economic contribution ranging from US$ $20.2 toUS $38.1 billion in KSA and US$11.6 to US$22.0 billion in Egypt, to US$ $0.9 to US$ 1.7 billion in Jordan, by 2035.Digitally mature countries such as KSA and the UAE have particular potential for near?term adoption. However, further diversification will be needed to create a dynamic private sector business environment with incentives for innovation and investment, to expand the potential for metaverse adoption across the wide range of sectors where it can create value.Elsewhere, benefits can be expected to accrue more gradually. Countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Morocco face wider gaps in digital infrastructure, skills and affordability, creating barriers especially for the adoption of the most sophisticated and transformative use cases. The report outlines the potential impact of the metaverse in MENA and how it can enable successful growth. The metaverse is a collective virtual shared space that is created by the convergence of physical and virtual worlds. It offers new opportunities for economic growth, social interaction, and innovation. The report suggests that the metaverse could provide a platform for the region to showcase its cultural heritage and offer new experiences to consumers.In countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, the UAE, and the KSA, momentum behind the metaverse is building across policymakers, businesses and consumers.The UAE and KSA seek to play a leading role in the emergence of the metaverse globally, recognizing the potential contribution towards growth and diversification targets. In the UAE, Dubai has launched a Metaverse Strategy, aiming to establish one of the world’s top ten metaverse economies.KSA, for example, has launched an initiative that will allow Muslims from all around the world to virtually touch the Black Stone at the Kaaba, an important religious tourism site. The initiative will allow people to completely immerse themselves in the experience, stimulating a range of senses including vision, hearing and smell.The Strategy envisages economic benefits of US$4 billion by 2030, focusing on transformative impacts in tourism, real estate, education, retail, and government services.34 The UAE has hosted international events – including the Dubai Metaverse Assembly and the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (‘GITEX’) in 2022 – to spread awareness and explore the metaverse’s potential.However, the report also highlights the challenges that need to be addressed to enable successful metaverse growth in MENA. These include infrastructure challenges, such as connectivity and access to digital technologies, as well as regulatory challenges, such as data protection and cybersecurity.To enable successful metaverse growth, the report suggests a collaborative approach between public and private sectors, academia, and civil society. It also suggests the need for investment in infrastructure, digital skills, and innovation.The report concludes with country profiles of MENA countries, highlighting their current digitalization efforts and potential for metaverse growth. The report emphasizes that any decision to invest, conduct business, enter or exit the markets considered in the report should be made solely on independent advice, and no information in the report should be relied upon in any way by any third party.GamingImmersive gaming is currently one of the most prevalent use cases for metaverse?related technologies, and will play a key part in the proliferation of the metaverse across MENA.MENA has one of the fastest growing gaming industries in the world, expected to more than double to a US$ 5 billion industry with 85.7 million gamers by 2025.62. MENA countries such as KSA and the UAE are investing heavily in the industry, reflecting its potential. KSA is making multibillion?dollar investments in gaming and e?sports and has launched the “Gaming And Esports Strategy” programme to boost the sector’s contribution to GDP to US$ 13 billion in eight years and generate 39,000 jobs by 2030.63.In the UAE, the government is supporting the creation of a gaming hub in Abu Dhabi, ADGaming Hub, that aims to attract international creators and gaming companies. More generally, the UAE is forecasted to reach an AR and VR penetration rate of over 50% by 2027, highlighting the ubiquity of the technology in the near future.Other governments in the region also recognize the importance of gaming, such as Morocco, where the Ministry of Youth partnered with Royal Moroccan Federation of Videogames to promote the sector. The two entities plan to increase investment, enhance the country’s youth gaming skills and promote participation in international tournaments, such as the FIFAe Nations Series 2022.Improved access to gaming could even offer players new avenues to pursue professional careers as gamers, with this trend already becoming popular in Morocco. Retail and tourism Metaverse technologies can offer consumers access to engaging shopping experiences through virtual shops, experiencing products without visiting the shop physically. Emerging examples include the launch of the first metaverse B2B marketplace in the region, based in the UAE, called “Magnati?MetaV’, which will provide shops and brands the ability to shift to multi?dimensional online commerce.85 Also, retailers such as Chalhoub Group – the largest retail operator in MENA – are already offering retail in the metaverse with products in the form of non?fungible tokens (NFTs) designed to be bought and worn by avatars.Metaverse technologies can enhance and amplify the existing tourism industry. AR, VR and MR have the potential to create a more engaging and interactive experience for visitors, for example, by restoring physical historical ruins to their original architecture or augmenting historical events into real life settings. By adopting metaverse technologies, the sector also stands to benefit from virtual visits and virtual tourism campaigns, which could motivate travelers to visit MENA countries physically after experiencing sites or hotels remotely.Egypt, for instance, has launched the ECO Egypt virtual tourism campaign which offers people the opportunity to explore some the country’s most spectacular sites through VR tours and 360° technologies and Jordan has introduced virtual reality tours to promote Petra, one of the country’s most important tourist sites.

DEWA initiates pilot use of ChatGPT to enhance the capabilities of Rammas

Dubai: After launching it last February, and as part of its strategy to employ Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies across all its operations and services, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) announced the pilot use of ChatGPT, since April 2023, on its website through Rammas, DEWA’s virtual employee, to enhance customer experience.“The wise leadership pays great attention to leveraging AI technologies across all sectors. At DEWA, we are keen to enrich the customer experience through smart services that save their time and effort using the latest AI tools. This supports the UAE National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence 2031, the Dubai 10X initiative and the Smart Dubai initiative, which aims to make Dubai the smartest and happiest city in the world. This is also part of our efforts to use AI in all our services and operations to reduce the number of visits to our customer happiness centres and contribute to shaping a new digital future for Dubai through Digital DEWA, our digital arm, that aims to make us DEWA first digital utility in the world with autonomous systems for renewable energy and storage, with the expansion of the use of AI and digital services,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA.“We always strive to improve customer experience and provide our services according to the highest standards of availability, reliability, efficiency and quality. This step to use ChatGPT in Rammas confirms our ongoing efforts to leverage the disruptive technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to accelerate digital transformation and provide advanced digital services with added value that enriches the experience and happiness of customers,” added Al Tayer.Since its launch in the first quarter of 2017 until the end of April 2023, Rammas has answered more than seven million enquiries. ChatGPT will contribute to enhancing its capabilities due to its superior ability to interact with users and better understand their needs. It will also improve its ability to learn, understand, and analyse customer enquiries based on available data and information to respond promptly and accurately.DEWA is working to enrich its services with ChatGPT. It is the first utility in the world and the first government organisation in the UAE to use this modern technology as part of its continuous efforts to enhance its leadership locally and globally.

NCE IBM unveils the Watsonx platform to power next-generation foundation models

Dubai: Today, IBM (NYSE: IBM) at its annual Think conference, announced IBM watsonx, a new AI and data platform to be released that will enable enterprises to scale and accelerate the impact of the most advanced AI with trusted data. Enterprises turning to AI today need access to a full technology stack that enables them to train, tune and deploy AI models, including foundation models and machine learning capabilities, across their organization with trusted data, speed, and governance - all in one place and to run across any cloud environment.Also at Think, IBM is announcing further planned advancements, including a GPU-as-a-service infrastructure offering designed to support AI-intensive workloads, an AI-powered dashboard to measure, track, manage, and help report on cloud carbon emissions, and a new practice for watsonx and generative AI from IBM Consulting that will support client deployment of AI.With watsonx, IBM is offering an AI development studio with access to IBM-curated and trained foundation models and open-source models, access to a data store to enable the gathering and cleansing of training and tuning data, and a toolkit for governance of AI into the hands of businesses that will provide a seamless end-to-end AI workflow that will make AI easier to adapt and scale.“With the development of foundation models, AI for business is more powerful than ever,” said Arvind Krishna, IBM Chairman and CEO. “Foundation models make deploying AI significantly more scalable, affordable, and efficient. We built IBM watsonx for the needs of enterprises, so that clients can be more than just users, they can become AI advantaged. With IBM watsonx, clients can quickly train and deploy custom AI capabilities across their entire business, all while retaining full control of their data.” Clients will have access to the toolset, technology, infrastructure, and consulting expertise to build their own — or fine-tune and adapt available AI models — on their own data and deploy them at scale in a more trustworthy and open environment to drive business success. Competitive differentiation and unique business value will be able to be increasingly derived from how adaptable an AI model can be to an enterprise’s unique data and domain knowledge.The IBM watsonx platform consists of three unique product sets to address these needs:IBM A next generation enterprise studio, expected to be generally available in July 2023, for AI builders to train, test, tune, and deploy both traditional machine learning and new generative AI capabilities powered by foundation models through an open and intuitive user interface. The AI studio provides a range of foundation models, training and tuning tools, and cost-effective infrastructure that facilitate the entire data and AI lifecycle, from data preparation to model development, deployment, and monitoring.The studio also includes a foundation model library that gives users easy access to IBM curated and trained foundation models. The IBM foundation models use a large, curated set of enterprise data backed by a robust filtering and cleansing process and auditable data lineage These models are being trained not just on language, but on a variety of modalities, including code, time-series data, tabular data, geospatial data, and IT events data. An initial set of foundation models will be made available in beta tech preview to select clients. Examples of model categories include:fm.code: Models built to automatically generate code for developers through a natural-language interface to boost developer productivity and enable the automation of many IT A collection of large language models (LLMs) for specific or industry-specific domains that utilize curated data where bias can be mitigated more easily and can be quickly customized using client Model built on climate and remote sensing data to help organizations understand and plan for changes in natural disaster patterns, biodiversity, land use, and other geophysical processes that could impact their businesses.As part of a new collaboration between IBM and Hugging Face, the studio will build upon Hugging Face's open-source libraries and offer thousands of Hugging Face open models and datasets. This is part of IBM's commitment to delivering to clients an open ecosystem approach that allows them to leverage the best models and architecture for their unique business needs.IBM A fit-for-purpose data store built on open lakehouse architecture that is optimized for governed data and AI workloads, supported by querying, governance, and open data formats to access and share data. The solution is expected to be generally available in July 2023 and:The solution can manage workloads both on-premise and across multi-cloud environments.Through workload optimization, with this solution, an organization can reduce data warehouse costs by up to 50 percent.[1] will allow users to access their increasingly robust data through a single point of entry while applying multiple fit-for-purpose query engines to uncover valuable insights.It will also provide built-in governance tools, automation and integrations with an organization’s existing databases and tools to simplify set-up and user experience.IBM watsonx.governance: an AI governance toolkit to enable trusted AI workflows. The solution, expected to be generally available later this year:Operationalizes governance to help mitigate the risk, time and cost associated with manual processes and provides the documentation necessary to drive transparent and explainable outcomes.Provides the mechanisms to protect customer privacy, proactively detect model bias and drift, and help organizations meet their ethics standards.With the watsonx platform, clients are enabled to meet the needs of their organization in five key areas of their business: interacting and conversing with customers and employees; automating business workflows and internal process; automating IT processes; protecting against threats; and tackling sustainability goals.IBM also plans to infuse foundation models throughout all its major software products going forward, for example: Watson Code Assistant: A solution, expected later this year, that taps generative AI to allow developers to generate code with a straightforward English language command.AIOps Insights: AI Operations (AIOps) capabilities enhanced with foundation models expected for code and NLP to provide greater visibility into performance across IT environments, helping IT operations (ITOps) managers and Site Reliability Engineers (SREs) resolve incidents in a more expedient and cost-efficient way.Watson Assistant and Watson Orchestrate: IBM’s digital labor products are expected to be combined with an NLP foundation model to enable enhanced employee productivity and customer service experiences.Environmental Intelligence Suite: IBM EIS Builder Edition is planned to be enabled by the geospatial foundation model and available in preview later this year, allowing organizations to create tailored solutions that address and mitigate environmental risks based on their unique goals and needs.Also at Think 2023, IBM will announce a number of additional upcoming offerings that are planned to help drive AI adoption, including:New GPU offering on IBM Cloud: Addressing the global need for foundation models, IBM is announcing new GPU offerings on IBM Cloud, an AI-tailored infrastructure designed to support enterprise compute-intensive workloads. Later this year, IBM is expected to offer full stack high-performance, flexible, AI-optimized infrastructure, delivered as a service on IBM Cloud, for both training and serving foundation models.IBM Consulting Center of Excellence for Generative AI: IBM Consulting announces a Center of Excellence for generative AI with over 1,000 generative AI experts and plans to build a watsonx-focused practice which will actively build and deploy watsonx for clients. IBM Consulting has completed dozens of client engagements infusing generative AI with IBM Watson and a portfolio of ecosystem partners through its proven IBM Garage method.IBM Cloud Carbon Calculator: An AI-informed dashboard to enable clients to measure, track, manage and help report their carbon associated with their hybrid multi-cloud journey. Based on technology from IBM Research, IBM Cloud Carbon Calculator is expected to be generally available later this year. The dashboard complements IBM’s existing sustainability solutions with a comprehensive portfolio of technology and expertise, including the IBM Envizi ESG Suite, IBM Turbonomic, IBM Planning Analytics and IBM LinuxONE, that help organizations accelerate their sustainability and business objectives.New study revealing generative AI is among seven trends shaping business: A new report from the IBM Institute for Business Value, titled Seven Bets, shares seven trends impacting business today and describes the seven bets worth making to enhance their business, including insights on why businesses should adopt an “AI-first” mindset and how leaders can most effectively capitalize on AI’s opportunities now and in the future, as well as manage the enhanced risks across their organizations.The Think 2023 broadcast can be accessed at During his keynote airing Tuesday, May 9, 8:30 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. EDT, IBM CEO and Chairman Arvind Krishna will be joined on stage by leaders from Delta Airlines, Citi, and Red Hat to discuss their visions for creatively turning challenges into opportunities with hybrid cloud and AI. On Wednesday May 10, 4:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. EDT, Darío Gil, Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research, will give a keynote on how generative AI can be applied for business use cases.Following the flagship event in Orlando, Think on Tour will travel to more than a dozen cities around the world. For updates on confirmed cities, please visit:

Apparel Group continues to dominate fashion retail landscape

Dubai: Apparel Group, a global leader in fashion and lifestyle retail, is proud to announce the launch of 25 new stores across the Middle East, and India, reinforcing its commitment to providing an unparalleled shopping experience for customers.In Kuwait, Apparel Group opens 12 new stores in the prestigious Khiran Mall. The brands making their debut include Beverly Hills Polo Club, Dune London, Birkenstock, Steve Madden, Levi’s, Havaianas, Ximi Vogue, The Children’s Place, BBZ, R&B, LC Waikiki, and LC Waikiki Kids, demonstrating the Group's dedication to offering a wide array of shopping choices to consumers in the region.The Group's homegrown brand, R&B, continues its rapid expansion with the opening of 9 new stores in various locations, such as Hijaz Mall in Makkah, KSA; Salalah Grand Mall in Oman; Tahlia Street in Qunfudha, KSA; Panorama Plaza in Kharj, KSA; Tawar Mall in Qatar; Al Nakheel in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE; The Avenues Mall in Kuwait; Hilite Mall in Calicut, India; and City Centre Mall in Mangalore, India.In the UAE, Crocs has opened a new store in Deerfields Mall, further expanding its presence in the region. Beverly Hills Polo Club also celebrates store openings in Deerfields Mall, Abu Dhabi, UAE, as well as in Al Shatea Mall, Dammam, KSA, and Sharaya Street, Makkah, KSA.Apparel Group's relentless pursuit of growth and innovation ensures that customers can enjoy a diverse selection of fashion, footwear, and lifestyle products. The expansion strategy underlines the Group's dedication to providing an outstanding shopping experience across the region and beyond.

Nicky Dawson appointed to accelerate Arabian Gulf Business

Dubai: Arabian Gulf Business Insight (AGBI), a next-generation business news platform, today announced it has further strengthened its senior management team with the appointment of Nicky Dawson, who will oversee the development of its commercial strategy framework in a consultancy role.Prior to joining AGBI, Dawson was Deputy Managing Director of ITP Middle East’s B2B team, managing more than 50 staff across 11 key business titles. She has more than two decades of experience in publishing, events and media with a focus on growing business operations.Dawson has worked across the MENA region since 2007 and has vast experience in scaling media businesses as well as launching new offerings. She has led on events such as ADIPEC and ISNR, has managed large portfolios of publishing brands – from PR Week to Construction Week and MEED – and has also launched industry-leading conferences.She is consulting with AGBI to help develop the commercial strategy framework, with a remit to help build out the operational teams.“I’m excited to be supporting the world-class editorial team at AGBI and will draw upon my extensive experience in the Gulf and beyond to help grow this important new source of regional business coverage,” Dawson said.James Drummond, Editor-in-Chief of AGBI, added: “It’s a pleasure to welcome Nicky to the team, and we are delighted to have one of the region’s most respected commercial leaders join us. Her wide-ranging expertise will be vital as we look to drive growth and increase our global reach.”Headquartered in London with a newsroom in Dubai, AGBI began publishing at last year as a focused resource for the local, regional and international business community and since its launch has grown rapidly, recording 100,000 users in April.Through deep-dive reporting and thoroughly researched insight, AGBI’s essential content provides expert analysis of the conversations and developments driving economic change in the region, adding a unique and original perspective on the factors shaping the commercial landscape.

MBZUAI and OurCrowd Arabia sign MoU to drive funding for AI startups

Dubai: Abu Dhabi’s Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) and OurCrowd Arabia, the Abu Dhabi based subsidiary of Israel’s OurCrowd, announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly create and manage several initiatives aiming to accelerate and catalyze the growth of the AI technology ecosystem on the university’s campus in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi.The MoU outlines various initiatives including:Creating an AI-focused venture capital investment fund with the aim of attracting both local and global AI technology companies to scale up globally from Abu Dhabi.Developing a strategic collaboration between MBZUAI and Integrated Data Intelligence (IDI) Limited, OurCrowd’s AI subsidiary in Abu Dhabi, on research projects in applied AI technologies across industries.Enhancing Abu Dhabi’s AI innovation ecosystem via strategic partnerships with key government and government-related entities.Providing internship and job opportunities to MBZUAI graduates through OurCrowd’s vast global network of portfolio technology startup companies and industry partners.Sultan Al Hajji, MBZUAI’s Vice President of Public Affairs and Alumni Relations, said, “Part of MBZUAI’s existence is to foster entrepreneurship and this partnership creates a mechanism for incubating startups and creating local opportunities for the university’s pipeline of talent. Through this strategic partnership with OurCrowd Arabia, MBZUAI is forging ahead with its mission to develop a dynamic, vibrant, AI ecosystem that will help to position Abu Dhabi as a global center for AI. Together, we will encourage funding to enable AI start-ups to scale up in the UAE’s capital, help to develop and commercialize AI research, and provide exciting opportunities in the field for young AI talent – including graduates and researchers from MBZUAI. The proposed initiatives are a perfect complement to MBZUAI’s and OurCrowd Arabia’s areas of expertise.”OurCrowd Arabia Executive Chairman Sabah al-Binali added, “We are honored to have signed this MoU with MBZUAI to jointly grow the AI ecosystem in Abu Dhabi. OurCrowd Arabia continues to build on its strategic relationships having started with our partnership with ADIO under its Innovation Program announced in November 2022. We look forward to continuing to leverage OurCrowd’s global experience and relationships to support the Abu Dhabi and UAE startup ecosystems.”OurCrowd Arabia, which opened in the UAE capital in 2021, is also establishing a new VC investment center in Abu Dhabi to manage deals for its existing platform and cater to emerging markets.

Business leaders celebrate health and safety success at RoSPA Awards

At an awards ceremony on May 3 hosted by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), attendees were presented with RoSPA awards based on a strict criteria that examined their organisation’s health and safety management systems and culture, risk control and harm reduction.The event marks the second year running RoSPA has hosted a Gala Dinner in the region, with top accolades going to Emirates Driving Institute, Abu Dhabi City Municipality, ACCIONA Facility Services Middle East, and AES Martiza, to name just a few.The official partner for this year’s RoSPA Awards is Croner-i, and the Dubai Gala Dinner was sponsored by NEBOSH.The RoSPA Health and Safety Awards is one of the largest occupational health and safety awards programme in the world. Now into its 67th year, the Awards have almost 2,000 entries every year, covering nearly 50 countries and a reach of over seven million employees. The programme recognises organisations’ commitment to continuous improvement in the prevention of accidents and ill health at work, looking at entrants’ overarching health and safety management systems, including practices such as leadership and workforce involvement.Matt Cryer, Awards Standards Manager at RoSPA, said: “We are thrilled to be back here in Dubai with some of the world’s leading organisations. It is encouraging to see such commitment to health and safety. We would like to congratulate everyone who has received a RoSPA Award and applaud all those involved for helping to save lives and reduce accidents.”Dee Arp, Chief Operating Officer at NEBOSH, said: “NEBOSH is delighted to return to the region this year to sponsor RoSPA’s Dubai Gala Dinner. As an organisation we focus on improving occupational health and safety through education, and we see our support of the RoSPA Awards as an extension of this. We commend all those who have taken part and demonstrated their commitment to saving lives.”Ben Chaplin, Managing Director at Croner-i, said: “We are delighted to be the headline sponsor for the RoSPA Awards and to help play a part in reducing accidents and preventing unnecessary injury and loss to life. Everyone who has taken part has shown exceptional commitment to health and safety – congratulations on your success!”

Web3 launchpad Enjinstarter MENA granted Initial Approval

DUBAI—Web3 launchpad and advisory company Enjinstarter MENA announced today that it has been granted initial approval by Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), while it undertakes the in-depth process of applying for a licence, in accordance with VARA requirements.With the Middle East and North Africa considered to be a booming Web3 market, Enjinstarter is seeking a foothold in the region as it aims to be the premier launchpad and incubator for Web3 metaverse, gaming, and entertainment experiences. Along with operating out of Dubai, the metaverse capital of the world, Enjinstarter has ambitious plans to be the go-to provider for Web3 adoption in the region, including the addition of more portfolio projects focusing on impact and sustainability initiatives that complement the UAE’s commitment to climate action.“This is an important step for Enjinstarter. Getting initial approval and continuing with our licence application makes clear our commitment to achieving the highest standards of accountability and transparency in the Web3 space. We are committed to  conforming to VARA’s high standards and know this will only accelerate our growth in the Middle East and beyond,” said Prakash Somosundram, co-founder and CEO of Enjinstarter.VARA, established in March 2022 under the Dubai Virtual Asset Regulation Law, is the first regulator of its kind to oversee virtual assets and aims to create an advanced legal framework to protect investors and set international standards for the virtual assets industry, and to enable responsible business growth in and from the Emirate.“Dubai has been laser-focused on establishing itself as a global hub for Web3. It continues to provide much-needed leadership in terms of regulation and innovation, especially with initiatives such as VARA’s own foray into The Sandbox. We are looking forward to getting started here and contributing to Dubai’s growing Web3 ecosystem,” added Vasseh Ahmed,Enjinstarter MENA’s managing director.Since inception in Dubai three months ago, Enjinstarter MENA has signed key partnerships with MENA-focused blockchain ecosystems, Crypto Oasis and Masary Capital, hosted a sustainability and climate impact roundtable with streaming platform myco, and appointed Vasseh as its managing director.

The new frontier of car subscriptions: Welcome to SUBSCRIBE ME

Dubai: SUBSCRIBE ME, a groundbreaking car subscription platform transforming the industry, launched on the 2nd of May at the Arabian Travel Market 2023 in the presence of Michel Ayat, chief executive officer of AW Rostamani Group - Automotive; Sanaa Ouahmane, director of AWR Mobility; dignitaries; SUBSCRIBE ME team members; and visitors. Offering an unmatched digital experience, this customer-centric app will provide unparalleled freedom, accessibility, and convenience to drive the car of your dreams in the UAE from a diverse fleet and enjoy complete transparency with SUBSCRIBE ME’s adaptive subscription model.Customers can download the app in just minutes and embark on a thrilling journey tailored to their unique preferences. Choose from an impressive array of vehicles across segments, all while enjoying crystal-clear pricing with no hidden fees, long-term commitments, or bank loans.Embrace the freedom to swap cars with ease and indulge in the peace of mind that comes with dealer-maintained vehicles across the entire fleet. SUBSCRIBE ME’s all-encompassing service package covers insurance, maintenance, car servicing, road assistance, pick-up, and delivery, allowing you to focus on the drive ahead.As a part of the AWR Mobility division of AW Rostamani, the company leverages the group’s wealth of knowledge and expertise to provide customers with an unparalleled experience. By forging strategic partnerships with car dealers and rental companies, SUBSCRIBE ME amplifies its reach and expands its target audiences, creating a robust network of collaborators. A soon-to-be trailblazer in the automotive industry, SUBSCRIBE ME proudly supports the UAE and Dubai governments’ commitment to excellence, innovation, and digitalisation.Get ready for the ultimate fusion of style, convenience, and flexibility with SUBSCRIBE ME. To learn more about and begin your car subscription journey.

Salesforce and Accenture collaborate to help customers

Dubai: Salesforce has announced plans to collaborate with Accenture to accelerate the deployment of generative AI for CRM. Together, the companies intend to establish an acceleration hub for generative AI that provides organizations with the technology and experience they need to scale Einstein GPT – Salesforce’s generative AI for CRM — helping to increase employee productivity and transform customer experiences.Significance: When deployed effectively, generative AI has the power to transform how companies do business and free employees’ time to focus on more complex and creative work. In fact, most senior IT leaders (84%) say generative AI will help their organization better serve customers. And with 67% of these leaders prioritizing generative AI for their business within the next 18 months, there is an urgent need to ensure the new technology is deployed effectively.Driving the news: The powerful combination of Salesforce and Accenture’s AI industry knowledge and connected customer experience aims to provide companies across every industry with strategies and technologies that harness generative AI effectively. By connecting to Accenture’s Generative AI and Large Language Model (LLM) Center of Excellence, the new acceleration hub will facilitate:Custom AI Strategies and Accelerators for Growth: Senior leaders from Salesforce and Accenture plan to work with customers to develop customized AI strategies using new accelerators for Einstein GPT, user interfaces, and process automation, which can help increase productivity and profit for their businesses.Innovative Use Cases for Sales and Service: These use cases will showcase generative AI’s benefits and potential return on investment, with an initial focus on sales and service. Examples of these use cases include:Sales: Generative AI can increase seller productivity with automated tasks to help drive ongoing engagement with customers and prospects.Service: Generative AI can also help improve customer experience and agent productivity for every customer service interaction with trusted CRM data, and automate knowledge management to help companies respond to the needs of their customers more effectively.Industry-Specific AI Models: Salesforce and Accenture intend to build industry-specific AI models for customers in the financial services, health, manufacturing, and public sector industries.Generative AI & Data Cloud: Using Data Cloud to connect and harmonize information, Salesforce and Accenture will explore how generative AI can learn from customer data to create more personalized experiences for customers faster.Upskilling for AI Success: Salesforce and Accenture plan to develop learning resources that help teams develop and enhance their generative AI skills, fostering the next generation of talent within the Salesforce ecosystem. Specific areas of focus include programming for Einstein GPT, AI literacy, data science and analytics, and ethics and responsible AI.The hub will also tap existing learning content on Trailhead, such as how to use AI to meet business needs, how to create ethical AI, and how Einstein GPT is transforming the future of work.Generative AI for CRM: Einstein GPT has the power to transform customer experiences with generative AI. It enables companies to create personalized, AI-generated content across sales, service, marketing, IT, and more. For example, Einstein GPT can generate:Personalized emails for salespeople to send to customersSpecific responses for customer service professionals to respond to customer questions more efficientlyTargeted content for marketers to increase campaign response ratesCode for developersSoundbites:“Generative AI has enormous potential to transform the way companies interact with customers and drive business growth. Accenture and Salesforce together have years of experience in AI and play a critical role in ensuring customers get the most value from this technology. We want to come together to bring the visionary and technical expertise needed to unlock new possibilities for AI- and data-powered CRM, driving a profound transformation in customer interactions.” – Bill Patterson, EVP and General Manager, C360 Applications, Salesforce“Generative AI has the potential to transform work and reinvent business, with large language models impacting up to 40% of all working hours across industries, changing the way companies interact with their customers and ushering in a new era of generative AI for everyone. Companies need the infrastructure and knowledge to deploy this new technology to help address their unique business needs. By combining Accenture’s industry experience with Salesforce’s technology, we plan to be well positioned to help customers solve problems with generative AI faster and more effectively.” – Emma McGuigan, Senior Managing Director and Enterprise & Industry Technology lead, Accenture

Union Coop to support ‘Emirates Nature-WWF’

Dubai: Dubai-based retailer ‘Union Coop’ signed a memorandum of understanding with ‘Emirates Nature-WWF' in cooperation with World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The signing comes as a part of the cooperative’s social responsibility goals to support Government, Private and social welfare institutions and community welfare projects.  The MoU was signed at Union Coop headquarters – Al Warqa City Mall, Dubai, by Eng. Abdulla Mohammad Rafie Al Dallal, Managing Director, Union Coop and Ms. Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, Director General of Emirates Nature-WWF. The agreement was signed in the presence of Dr. Suhail Al Bastaki, Happiness & Marketing Director, Union Coop, Ms. Huda Salem Saif, Senior Communication Section Manager at Union Coop and staff from both sides.This agreement falls within the framework of Union Coop's programs to strengthen cooperation with associations that serve the essential community groups, participate in initiatives directed at them, and expand their role in community development.Union Coop’s MD - Eng. Al Dallal for his part highlighted that this agreement’s primary goal is to establish a concept of corporate social responsibility, a vital part of Union Coop’s community orientation. This will in turn strengthen the bonds of cooperation with the primary sectors and relevant agencies by launching initiatives that are directed towards the members of the society, thereby expanding the cooperative’s role in the community’s development. Moreover, the cooperative placed within its annual strategies to support government and private community establishments for the general well-being of society.As per this agreement, Union Coop will support the directions of Emirates Nature-WWF and offer moral support, thereby solidifying its distinguished position in society.In her turn, Ms. Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, Director General of Emirates Nature-WWF, praised the societal role played by the Union Coop in various fields, primarily for the adoption of community initiatives to support social institutions. She further expressed her appreciation for the Cooperative’s moral support to the institution and its help in promoting its services through several channels as agreed by the two parties, explaining that the cooperative’s support for the association will have many positive effects in introducing and promoting the association’s initiatives.Post-signing, Union Coop organized a guided tour for the Emirates Nature-WWF delegation of the Union Coop hypermarket branch at Al Warqa City Mall. They were informed about the most important services that Union Coop provides to consumers, which follow the best practices applied in the field of food retailing, delivery, customer happiness services, expansion strategies and digital solutions for retail, in addition to updating them of information about the culture of retail trade in the Union Coop. Furthermore, the delegation was educated about hydroponics and the ways the Union Farm located in the Al Warqa City Mall ‘Union Coop’ branch is maintained. The experts from Union Coop answered all queries from the delegation and offered them information about the culture of retail trade in the Union Coop, and the mechanism for allocating sites and sections dedicated to international products and promoting them in their periodical advertising magazines.

Canon's "Make it GROW" campaign brings new flagship products to the Middle East

Dubai: Canon, the global leader in imaging solutions, has announced the launch its latest flagship products, the Colorado M Series and imagePRESS v 1350, in the Middle East region. The launch of these cutting-edge printing solutions is part of its "Make it GROW" campaign in Dubai and Abu Dhabi that aims to help customers grow their businesses returns with Canon's product portfolio. The campaign showcases their unprecedented features and capabilities that efficiently meet the needs of commercial printers, designers, print service providers, and photography professionals.Canon's "Make it GROW" campaign features two product launch events in the UAE. The first was organised at Bab Al Qasr hotel in Abu Dhabi from 1st – 2nd May 2023, and the second is a week-long event at Colab, Dubai Design District, from 8th – 12th May. The Dubai event hosts a special evening gathering on 10th May, exclusively for interior decor designers, and highlights the unique applications of Canon's new products in this market segment.The Colorado M Series is a game-changer in the large format printing industry, boasting new features such as white ink printing, modular design options, versatility, and upgradability. With the highest productivity in its class, it empowers print service providers to expand their business horizons and explore new applications on various flexible and rigid media.On the other hand, the imagePRESS v 1350 sets new standards in Canon's production machines range, offering the highest levels of product automation, volume, and quality. This advanced printing solution is designed to meet the demands of high-volume printing environments, providing unmatched productivity and exceptional print quality."At Canon, we are committed to delivering innovative solutions that empower our customers to grow their business and achieve success," said Shadi Bakhour, B2B Business Unit Director at Canon Middle East. "Our two new products are prime examples of our dedication to pushing the boundaries of print technology and providing customers with the tools they need to excel. With Canon's new flagship products, customers in the Middle East can expect unparalleled print quality, productivity, and versatility, enabling them to take their businesses to new heights."Canon's "Make it GROW" events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai provide an opportunity for customers, enthusiasts, and photography professionals to explore new features and applications of its flagship products. Its experts will be available for consultations on optimizing business returns and driving customer engagement with unique, high-quality printouts.In addition, Canon will showcase the newly launched products at the upcoming Saudi Print & Pack 2023 exhibition, where visitors can learn about the benefits of Canon's latest offerings, explore new features, and receive free consultations on applications and business opportunities from its experts. As a bonus, Canon is offering a promotion with a chance to win a fully paid trip to Saudi Arabia to attend the Saudi Print & Pack 2023 exhibition.

DEWA initiates pilot use of ChatGPT to enhance the capabilities of Rammas

Dubai: After launching it last February, and as part of its strategy to employ Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies across all its operations and services, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) announced the pilot use of ChatGPT, since April 2023, on its website through Rammas, DEWA’s virtual employee, to enhance customer experience.“The wise leadership pays great attention to leveraging AI technologies across all sectors. At DEWA, we are keen to enrich the customer experience through smart services that save their time and effort using the latest AI tools. This supports the UAE National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence 2031, the Dubai 10X initiative and the Smart Dubai initiative, which aims to make Dubai the smartest and happiest city in the world. This is also part of our efforts to use AI in all our services and operations to reduce the number of visits to our customer happiness centres and contribute to shaping a new digital future for Dubai through Digital DEWA, our digital arm, that aims to make us DEWA first digital utility in the world with autonomous systems for renewable energy and storage, with the expansion of the use of AI and digital services,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA.“We always strive to improve customer experience and provide our services according to the highest standards of availability, reliability, efficiency and quality. This step to use ChatGPT in Rammas confirms our ongoing efforts to leverage the disruptive technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to accelerate digital transformation and provide advanced digital services with added value that enriches the experience and happiness of customers,” added Al Tayer.Since its launch in the first quarter of 2017 until the end of April 2023, Rammas has answered more than seven million enquiries. ChatGPT will contribute to enhancing its capabilities due to its superior ability to interact with users and better understand their needs. It will also improve its ability to learn, understand, and analyse customer enquiries based on available data and information to respond promptly and accurately.DEWA is working to enrich its services with ChatGPT. It is the first utility in the world and the first government organisation in the UAE to use this modern technology as part of its continuous efforts to enhance its leadership locally and globally.

Cathay unveils fully reimagined travel lifestyle magazine for customers

Dubai:  Cathay has introduced a fully reimagined travel lifestyle magazine for its customers, bringing them inspirational content whether they are in the air or on the ground.Titled “Cathay”, the re-envisaged magazine exemplifies Cathay’s evolution into a premium travel lifestyle brand, with sections dedicated to our home hub of Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area, as well as travel and holidays, wellness, dining and shopping.  Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Lavinia Lau said: “We know that our customers want and expect to be able to enjoy a travel lifestyle magazine when they fly with us, and we are delighted to reintroduce a refreshed publication that encapsulates everything we want to bring them, every day – inspiration, delight and discovery.“Our purpose is to move people forward in life by connecting them to meaningful people, places and experiences. Through the content we share, we want Cathay to become a brand that people refer to on a daily basis, for inspiration and advice on the premium travel lifestyle.”The theme of the first issue is “Reconnection”, as Cathay focuses on reconnecting Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area and the Chinese Mainland with the world. The stories in this issue encapsulate the sense of connection through a wide range of approaches. The magazine launches with a series of inspiring travel covers of stunning aerial views of cities, each of which inspires more travel.Readers of Cathay can look forward to content across the magazine’s dedicated sections.Hong Kong & the GBA showcases what is new and thrilling in our extended home market.Explore (Travel and Hotels) is a celebration of the joy of travel and the travel lifestyle, providing content exploring destinations across our route network that makes customers want to book a flight.Dining brings together all aspects of one of the most important aspects of lifestyle, showcasing food and beverage across the Cathay route network, and highlighting must-book restaurants, cutting-edge chefs as well as lifestyle rewards and retail offers.Wellness covers all aspects of mindful travel, wellness and sustainability – plus how Cathay can help customers live a healthier, better life.Shopping is a lavishly shot section of the magazine, which directs readers to must-have products available through the Cathay shop.The Cathay Way speaks to how we do what we do, whether that be an insider’s look at our fleet, our achievements, our safety and hygiene, or the benefits of the Cathay membership programme and how members can maximise their earning and burning potential.Inflight Entertainment provides intelligent and engaging writing about our inflight entertainment, giving customers a look into the extensive onboard library of new Hollywood releases, Asian cinema classics, award-winning TV boxsets, the latest albums, podcasts, games and HBO Max.Stories and content are extended online in Cathay’s Inspiration content hub, which delivers even more high-quality content on the premium travel lifestyle.The Cathay magazine is printed using eco-friendly vegetable oil ink on environmentally responsible and ethically produced paper certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Once we replace the magazines, we ensure that they are properly recycled by our contractors.

From graphic design to communication: A fulfilling journey for Romy Abdelnour

Romy Abdelnour, the Head of Communications at TBWA\RAAD, talks to Adgully's BF Firos on her role in storytelling and communication at the agency. She talks about her passion for creativity, how she moved from graphic design to communications, and the biggest challenges she faced in her role as Corporate Communications Director. Abdelnour highlights how TBWA\RAAD stays ahead of the curve with the launch of NEXT, a creative-led innovation consultancy, and the annual NEXT Innovation Festival. She also shares her thoughts on the importance of female representation in the advertising industry and her advice for aspiring women. She also talks about the emerging trends in advertising and communications in the UAE and how TBWA\RAAD is exploring these innovations to create strategies that resonate with clients' target audience. Excerpts:Congratulations on your recent promotion! Can you tell us a little about your new role as Head of Communications at TBWA\RAAD?Thank you, much appreciated. My main role involves telling the TBWA\RAAD story: the story of its creative products, the different brand experiences the agency creates for its clients, as well as the stories of our people, culture, key milestones, and achievements.How did you initially get involved in the creative industry, and what inspired you to make the shift from graphic design to communications?I've always had a passion for creativity, and since I was a child, I knew that I would choose a creative path. Initially, I had imagined pursuing a career in fine arts or interior design. However, as I grew older, graphic design was gaining popularity, and I became curious about how brands come to life and the vast world of design. After many years in the field and behind the computer screen, I realized that I needed more interaction with the outside world, more opportunities for exchange. I craved connectivity. I chose to complement my design background with communications, to learn how to better bring creative ideas to life through storytelling and communication.As Corporate Communications Director, you oversaw the agency's internal and external communications, media relations, partnerships, and more. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in this role, and how did you overcome them?The main challenges are related to the amount of work and the need to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. However, these challenges provide an excellent opportunity to learn, grow and gain enriching experiences that make the journey worthwhile. Effective time management is crucial, which includes setting priorities and breaking down large projects into smaller, manageable tasks. Moreover, it is essential to build a structured, consistent, relevant, and timely narrative that enhances the brand image and reputation, and resonates with the target audience.TBWA\RAAD has been recognized for its innovation, earning the title of The Middle East's Most Innovative Company in Advertising by Fast Company Middle East. How does the agency stay at the forefront of innovation in the industry, and what role do you play in this?Today, more than ever, brands need to elevate their game. Consumers in our region are tech-savvy, passionate about innovations such as the metaverse, and hungry for impactful, meaningful, and memorable experiences that utilize creativity and storytelling.Last year, TBWA\RAAD launched NEXT in the Middle East, a creative-led innovation consultancy designed to shape the future of brand experiences and help brands elevate their customer engagement to the next level. Powered by TBWA—The Disruption® Company—NEXT connects emerging technology with a deep understanding of culture and brands to disrupt traditional approaches to customer experience thinking and unlock business and brand opportunities. NEXT is supported by an ecosystem of tech and business experts, creative leaders, and strategists who combine culture with a strategic approach to technological change to identify innovation and growth opportunities for businesses.In addition to customizing innovation opportunities for its clients, TBWA\RAAD shares its knowledge and expertise in innovation with the community through its annual NEXT Innovation Festival, which serves as a platform to showcase and discuss the latest trends and technologies in innovation, and identify the different opportunities ahead for our region.My role in all of this is to highlight NEXT's offerings and the latest trends identified by NEXT and share the insights in thought leadership pieces or panel discussions attended by our leadership team. Additionally, I organize the annual festival and oversee all communications and marketing related to the event.You were recently recognized in Communicate's list of Women to Watch for 2022, which celebrates women in the Middle East who are driving change in the industry. How important do you think it is to have strong female representation in the creative industry, and what advice do you have for aspiring women in the field?I strongly believe that women have a vital role to play in our community and particularly in the advertising industry. Their unique perspectives and insights, based on their personal experiences and criteria, can contribute to elevating the creative product. Additionally, women have significant purchasing power and are crucial decision-makers in households. Therefore, they should be involved in crafting messages and telling brand stories from their own perspective.My advice to aspiring women in advertising is to be bold and courageous in their thinking. Challenge biases and conventions, push boundaries, and have fun while doing it. Make sure your voice is heard, advocate for equal representation and opportunities, and promote diversity and inclusion in the industry. Lastly, it is essential to build on your ideas and make them bigger.As someone with over 15 years of experience in the industry, what trends do you see emerging in the world of advertising and communications in the UAE, and how do you see TBWA\RAAD staying ahead of the curve?Currently, there are several key trends in the advertising industry. Personalization is a crucial one, with consumers increasingly expecting brands to offer personalized experiences and products that cater to their individual preferences and needs. As a result, companies are leveraging data-driven marketing strategies and artificial intelligence technologies to create tailored campaigns and product recommendations.Another trend that has been on the rise for some time now is purpose-driven campaigns, which are sensitive to social and environmental causes. Immersive experiences, enhanced by gamification, AR, and VR, are also gaining popularity among consumers.The advertising industry is constantly evolving, and there are endless opportunities now available with the evolution of new generative AI tools. At TBWA\RAAD, we are always on the lookout for the latest trends and technologies. Our main goal is to explore these innovations and create strategies that resonate with our clients' target audience.What do you consider to be your greatest professional accomplishment to date, and how did you achieve it?There are many accomplishments that I am proud of at TBWA\RAAD, but there are a few that stand out to me. Firstly, I take pride in organising successful events such as our International Women’s Day events and regional meetings like the ‘Cairo Exchange’. Additionally, I launched the agency’s first mobile application “Pirates” in 2017 which brought all the different agencies together under a single platform and unified communication. I also find it gratifying when the agency receives global recognition. However, I consider the launch of the agency’s insights microsite during the pandemic in 2020 to be my greatest achievement to date. It was a challenging initiative, but with hard work and collaboration, we were able to create an interactive platform that housed the latest insights, tools, and predictions about culture and industries in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also organized weekly live sessions to discuss the latest trending topics. This experience taught me a lot about the importance of teamwork, creating meaningful work, and making a positive impact in the community.How do you see TBWA\RAAD's vision for Disruption® evolving in the coming years, and what role will you play in this evolution?In 2021, we upgraded our operating system to Disruption X, a modernized version of our Disruption® approach that focuses on driving commercial impact and growth for our clients. Disruption X provides us with tools to apply Disruption® upstream to our clients' businesses and downstream to all customer touchpoints, enabling us to generate innovative solutions to their problems. At TBWA, Disruption® is always evolving and adapting to the ever-changing landscape and cultural shifts. Our role in communications is to share the Disruption® story with the world and showcase its impact across every touchpoint of our agency. We strive to embed it within our culture and narrative, not just within our client work, to ensure that we continue to push the boundaries of what's possible and create meaningful experiences for our clients and their customers.

FOO-Majid Al Futtaim partnership to transform customer experience

Dubai: FOO, an award-winning fintech solutions provider operating in the MENA region, has partnered with XSIGHT Future Solutions, Majid Al Futtaim’s newly formed digital arm accelerating the company’s digital transformation journey, to provide an embedded wallet experience for Majid Al Futtaim’s retailers.Carrefour, owned and operated by Majid Al Futtaim in the UAE, is the first retailer to adopt this technology and has already launched the solution in the UAE, KSA and Egypt, with many more countries to follow. FOO has expedited Carrefour’s current refund process by integrating its closed-loop mobile wallet and stored value account (SVA) solution into Carrefour’s existing mobile app, enabling customers to receive instant refunds to their personal accounts.The collaboration with FOO will streamline the hypermarket chain’s refund procedure and provide a more seamless shopping experience for its customers. The embedded wallet solution is just the beginning of a long-term partnership between FOO and XSIGHT Future Solutions, laying the groundwork for additional fintech capabilities that will soon be implemented.The agile and efficient closed-loop solution offers several benefits for both Majid Al Futtaim and the end user. For instance, the credit received from the refund can be used immediately against purchases from any of its merchants, helping to drive customer retention. Moreover, retaining a significant portion of revenue within the Majid Al Futtaim ecosystem contributes to the company's further growth and success.Hussam Kayyal, Chief Revenue Officer at FOO commented: “There’s no doubt that customer satisfaction is the number one priority for all businesses. Embedded finance can significantly enhance consumer experience by eliminating traditional pain points. Integrating a closed-loop mobile wallet into the various Majid Al Futtaim consumer apps improves ease of service, therefore enhancing customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.”By leveraging an in-house design and development approach, FOO crafts solutions using a modular platform built on microservices. This unique 'plug and play' model enables the delivery of super-personalized solutions with exceptional time to market. FOO’s products and services offer an unparalleled level of flexibility and scalability, aligning perfectly with Majid Al Futtaim's plans to implement the same solution across all its retailers and markets.Joe Abi Akl, Chief Corporate Development Officer at Majid Al Futtaim Holding and Managing Director of XSIGHT Future Solutions, added: “We are delighted to partner with FOO to elevate our digital services and deliver an exceptional shopping experience to our customers. By leveraging FOO’s advanced capabilities, we can enhance our existing digital infrastructure and optimize our operations to meet the evolving needs of our customers. We are confident that this strategic partnership will enable us to set new industry standards and redefine the future of retail.”

DevOps and Cybersecurity analyst tops the most searched jobs in Saudi

Riyadh: The information technology sector is experiencing a surge of growth in Saudi Arabia, especially in the areas of cybersecurity and digital transformation. According to a report by Gulf Business, the IT job market in Saudi Arabia was expected to grow by 9% in 2022, driven by demand for cybersecurity and digital transformation specialists. The Saudi Arabian government's investment in digital transformation initiatives and smart city projects, coupled with the shift towards remote work and digital services, are driving the growth in demand for IT professionals.Qrator Labs, a DDoS mitigation service provider and an expert in the continuous availability of Internet resources, made a study on the job market rom 2022 to 2023 in Saudi Arabia. The report shows that the top three IT vacancies people are searching for in Saudi Arabia include DevOps engineer and Cybersecurity analyst. These positions have seen significant growth in search queries, with DevOps engineers growing by 100% and network engineers growing by 133.3%. At the same time, MCSE Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer has as well 100% growth in searches in Google in Saudi Arabia.The report also highlights the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals in Saudi Arabia. Cybersecurity work-related search queries jumped by 353% from 2022 to 2023. This trend is expected to continue in Saudi Arabia, as the government invests in cybersecurity initiatives and organizations focus on protecting their digital assets from cyber threats.The report also notes the growing interest in remote work opportunities in Saudi Arabia, as the country continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The shift towards remote work is creating new opportunities for IT professionals who can support digital transformation initiatives and remote work infrastructure.The IT job market in Saudi Arabia is booming, driven by the demand for cybersecurity and digital transformation professionals. As organizations continue to invest in digital initiatives and the government supports smart city projects, the demand for IT professionals is expected to continue growing.

PayTabs launches ReelsPay across MENA to elevate social media sales

Dubai: PayTabs, MEASA’s award-winning payments powerhouse, today announced that millions of freelancers, home based business owners and micro vendors across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt will now be able to sell even more over social media with ReelsPay, by Paymes.Paymes, which serves over a million merchant users across Turkey, Azerbaijan, Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, just launched its new feature – ReelsPay. The feature serves to increase sales by highlighting all the content available on an instagram Reels Video, making it easier for buyers to view the products on display and then purchase them under one payment link. Social media platforms such as Instagram allow brands to increase their sales by reaching a wider audience. With the growth of social media marketplaces, it is estimated that Instagram will have 2.5 billion active monthly users by the end of 2023. The Middle East is home to some of the biggest social media markets. In fact, the region makes up 10% of the world’s Instagram users, making it a prime platform to see, be seen and of course, generate sales. In line with customer behaviour and the increasing tendency of millennials, Gen Z to make purchases online or over social media, businesses across the region are keeping up with the social media trend and actively using digital sales channels to offer the best customer experiences. PayTabs brings the buyer and the seller together by enabling digital payment acceptance through the Social Commerce solution. PayTabs empowers and enables webpreneurs and homepreneurs to accept payments via social media platforms like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and other channels.It does this via providing buyers with secure online payment links, QR codes and complimentary online store fronts for faster checkout experience.To this effect, reels videos are the most active type of content used by individual sellers and businesses for marketing. Statistics reveal that 91% of active Instagram users watch videos on the platform every week. Reels videos occupy a large part of the conversion rate within the Instagram ‘Explore Tab,’ and it has undoubtedly become one of the most used methods for advertising and product promotion.ReelsPay accelerates the sales process while giving the seller the opportunity to introduce products to users in an organic way. Via the Paymes merchant Dashboard, sellers can create and list their products on the Reels video and then introduce them to their customers or followers by sharing the ReelsPay link over any social media platform.Commenting on the launch of Reels Pay in the MENA region, Hany Soliman, Regional Head and Operating Partner GCC Region said: “This innovation by Paymes takes the social media purchasing experience to the next level, allowing buyers to purchase all the products they see on a Reels video with a single click, enabling seamless online sales. It further strengthens social media marketing strategies, enabling businesses to benefit. While sellers can reach a wider audience and market their products more cost effectively, they can also include the ease of searching for products in their sales adventures, thanks to ReelsPay. PayTabs is delighted to be the first to bring this innovation to the region via Paymes.”Sabrican Zaim, CEO of Paymes, on this new product that will change the pulse of social commerce, said, "The seller can deliver all the products on Reels to the buyer with a single listing on their shop page, and the buyer can easily buy all the products they see in the Reels video without getting lost on the shop page. ReelsPay, which provides quick purchases with a direct link to the link, meets with users as a big plus of social commerce and makes it easier for them to make sales with Paymes' reliable payment methods. ReelsPay, which provides great convenience for those who want to sell multiple products, such as outfit combinations, which are immensely popular on Instagram, and present their products together on a single page, will undoubtedly be one of the favorite purchasing methods of the digital world.”PayTabs acquired Turkey’s largest social commerce platform, Paymes in 2022.Paymes serves as PayTabs social commerce platform across the MENA region.

Ministry of Finance kicks off 2023 ACFE Fraud Conference

Dubai : United Arab Emirates: Today, the 2023 ACFE Fraud Conference Middle East kicked off, which is being hosted by the UAE under the patronage of the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and in cooperation with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). The Conference will be held in Dubai on 8 and 9 May 2023 at Fairmont The Palm – Dubai. More than 300 anti-fraud leaders and experts from various sectors in the Middle East are participating in the conference to discuss the latest trends and tools used in the fields of fraud detection and prevention.Her Excellency Mariam Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for Government Financial Management Sector at Ministry of Finance, delivered the opening speech, during which she welcomed the participants and thanked the ACFE for hosting this conference in the UAE and for their role in executing sustainable initiatives in secure business environments.Her Excellency Al Amiri noted that the online payments segment has made great strides since its inception back in the mid-1990s, and the rapid development of online banking, shopping, and other services, driven by technological advancements, has resulted in a significant rise in digital payments on all types of devices.Al Amiri mentioned that technological advancements and digital initiatives are providing fraudsters with new tools to penetrate defences, noting that over the past years, there has been a major increase in fraud cases worldwide, with consumers reportedly losing billions of dollars, especially in the Middle East.Al Amiri said: “Fraud poses a serious threat to us all. If we want to protect our economies, we need to work hand in hand to combat fraud, and that’s why we are here today. We have gathered to explore the best means of detecting and preventing fraud, as well as ways to raise the levels of compliance and internal control in an optimal manner. This is in addition to discussing ways of consolidating integrity in the public and private sectors in the Middle East, as well as the best practices and global issues that have emerged in light of the developments the world is witnessing in the fields of finance, technology, and sustainability.”Al Amiri added: “If we want to make our region secure for regional and international investors, we must collaborate to foster a transparent environment. I am proud to come from a country that has been a frontrunner in this field. Since its establishment, the UAE has positioned itself as a business hub. Our country has always been keen on devising strategies to make doing business easier, attract foreign investors, and diversify sources of the national income, and we are equally dedicated to combating fraud, money laundering, and corruption in order to create a secure investment climate.”Al Amiri noted that UAE government entities are developing and implementing nationwide initiatives to raise awareness about fraud detection and prevention, such as the National Fraud Awareness Campaign that was launched to protect consumers from financial cybercrime and fraud. The campaign went a long way in educating the public about fraud and the means of preventing it. “At the Ministry of Finance, we take our role in safeguarding the business climate very seriously. This falls within our remit to regulate all financial services as per the highest standards of quality, efficiency, and transparency. It is also part of our ongoing endeavours to strengthen the UAE’s competitiveness in the fiscal and economic field,” she added.Al Amiri stated: “The Ministry of Finance deploys the best modern financial systems to reduce fraud, through systems that define financial and administrative powers, the policies followed in establishing and monitoring accounts with banks, and the powers to sign and approve financial payments. This is inline with our commitment to apply best practices that reduce the risks of fraud. Despite the widespread use of digital technology and its risks, it has contributed in some way to reducing the occurrence of fraud and exploitation of individuals, through strict and meticulous regulatory systems."Al Amiri noted that the Ministry of Finance has developed the anti-fraud manual in 2018 to combat fraud in the federal government with the aim of enhancing transparency and integrity as well as reducing corruption, and the manual is implemented by all federal entities. Also, she mentioned that the ministry holds training workshops on an annual basis for all federal entities on enhancing the application of the anti-fraud manual in the federal government.Al Amiri also noted that the ministry established a secure and confidential communication channel that can be accessed by all our stakeholders. Through the channel, they can report any cases of corruption or other violations that have occurred or are planned at the ministry without any fear of retaliation.At the end of her speech, Al Amiri stressed the UAE’s commitment to supporting the region’s ongoing efforts to combat fraud and maintain the stability and integrity of the fiscal systems. Al Amiri said: “Together, we can promote accountability and transparency in the public and private sectors and create a secure business environment to boost prosperity across the region. Today and tomorrow, we look forward to discussing ways of safeguarding our investment climate, and sharing our experience and expertise to help reduce fraud cases in the Middle East.”Bruce Dorris, President and CEO of Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) said, “We greatly appreciate the support and partnership with the UAE Ministry of Finance for our eighth Middle East Fraud Conference. With new fraud threats arising everyday, it is important to have events like this one to learn from financial crime experts and one another so that we can prevent these frauds from greatly impacting our businesses and governments. The Ministry of Finance has demonstrated their commitment to the anti-fraud community by being a part of this conference.”The first day of the conference included two panel discussions; the first was titled “Operational shifts and their impacts on the financial industry”, and the second was titled “Managing fraud risks in sustainability initiatives”. Additionally, a panel session was held on the evolution of fraud in the global financial market, in addition to an optional session on how to pass the CFE exam.On the second day, a symposium will be held under the title “Harnessing the power of fraud technology” in addition to a panel discussion titled “Navigating fraud-related compliance and ethics challenges”. Moreover, there will be a workshop on Fraudsters’ modus operandi and the differences between “traditional” fraud and cyberfraud.

SFA signs a MOU with ZATCA to advance Saudi community sports

Riyadh: The Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (ZATCA) to empower more people and communities across the Kingdom to lead more healthy and active lives.The MoU was signed by SFA President, HRH Prince Khalid bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, and H.E. Eng Suhail bin Mohammed Abanmi, Governor of the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, with SFA Managing Director, Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini in attendance.As part of the agreement, SFA and ZATCA will work closely to implement an innovative range of programs and activities that promote and enhance the development of the Kingdom’s sports culture and industry.Both parties will leverage their resources, insights, and expertise to aid the transformation of the Saudi sports landscape, ensuring more people and communities benefit from greater access to world-class sporting services, provisions, and facilities.In line with Vision 2030 and SFA’s commitment to continuing to raise physical activity levels in the Kingdom, the partnership is fully geared towards advancing community sports and encouraging participation in daily sports activities. SFA will now collaborate with ZATCA to underline the importance of regular physical exercise to adopting and maintaining a healthy way of life. The Federation will work in tandem with the General Authority to support people across the country through the development of a diverse selection of health and sports programs, including initiatives to support the Authority’s employees.A joint action plan will also be outlined and implemented utilizing the respective parties’ facilities and established infrastructure to host community-driven events and activities.HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, President of the Saudi Sports for All Federation said: “We see this partnership with ZATCA as both innovative in structure and future-focused: a community-focused agreement that will serve everyone in Saudi, providing people greater support to lead the healthy and active lives. By combining resources and capabilities, the SFA and ZATCA can make a lasting impact on Saudi sports culture, providing even more opportunities to adopt sustainable routines of physical activity and overall wellness. We look forward to working with ZATCA to create a brighter, more active future for all.”The signing of this strategic agreement marks the latest step taken by SFA to enhance the Kingdom’s rapidly evolving sports culture. It follows the launch of wide-ranging sports initiatives and campaigns launched by the Federation in alignment with the Quality of Life Program to encourage community members of all ages, abilities, backgrounds and genders to take part in daily sports and physical activities.

Saudi Arabian AI giant Mozn forays into the UAE

DubaI: Saudi Arabia’s Mozn, a market leader in enterprise artificial-intelligence technologies, today announced a regional expansion that will take the company into the thriving AI, finance and fintech markets of the United Arab Emirates and the GCC.The announcement came at the Dubai Fintech Summit, held at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, where Mozn’s senior executives spoke on the need for AML/CFT (anti-money-laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism) and fraud-prevention technologies. Mozn’s expansion into the GCC market through its UAE office will see it provide innovative regulatory compliance and anti-fraud solutions powered by advanced AI. Aimed at financial institutions such as banks, digital banks, fintechs and other large financial organisations, these solutions make it easier to see the whole board and identify suspicious behaviour patterns in real time.“The UAE has been making significant strides in enhancing its AML compliance and combating financial fraud, and Mozn’s entry into the UAE market will help accelerate these efforts,” said Dr. Mohammed Alhussein, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Mozn. “We are excited to begin this next chapter in Mozn’s growth journey as we enter the broader GCC market through our UAE office. We look forward to collaborating with prominent financial institutions in these markets, re-enforcing their compliance stance and further improving the stability of these nation's financial sectors through our anti-fraud solutions. Mozn firmly believes that our collective efforts contribute to these government's economic diversification initiatives, and it will leave no stone unturned in doing so.”The Dubai FinTech Summit brings together enterprises, governments, thought leaders, and policy makers, to network and collaborate on the development of technology, regulations, and best practices with a view to accelerating financial innovation.Mozn’s FOCAL – the AI-powered risk and compliance platform - plays a significant role in the region’s fight against financial crime and is bolstering compliance across the sector. FOCAL AML screens and monitors customers and their transaction using advanced name-matching algorithms that are uniquely optimized for Arabic language and names and reconciles them against more than 1,300 automatically updated global and local sanctions and PEP lists to help satisfy AML and KYC/KYB requirementsFOCAL Anti-fraud, proactively identifies suspicious patterns and prevents criminals from successfully defrauding organisations and their clients by confirming the identity of payees automatically by checking data input against the destination account’s records.FOCAL combines a wealth of datapoints to score risk (for both fraud and money laundering) that automates a custom next action based on the highly configurable rules and the organization’s own risk appetite. Clients using FOCAL by Mozn are making better informed strategic decisions, getting compliant fast and staying that way as well as increasing team efficiency and reducing investigation time by up to 95%

The Beauty Secrets" continues to expand in the Middle East

Riyadh:  The Beauty Secrets, a Saudi-based company specializing in offering premium European beauty products, is pleased to announce its expansion in the Middle East with the opening of its first branch in Jordan. The expansion is a testament to the company's commitment to providing high-quality beauty products to its customers.The Beauty Secrets was founded in 2009 by a team of beauty experts who are passionate about providing the best possible products to the Saudi market. The company's success is due to its focus on quality, authenticity, and customer satisfaction. The company has made a name for itself by providing European beauty products to customers in Saudi Arabia with 170 different locations across the Kingdom, and its expansion to Jordan is a natural progression in its mission to bring high-quality beauty products to the Middle East.The opening of the company's first branch in Jordan is an important milestone for The Beauty Secrets. The new branch is located in Amman, one of the most vibrant cities in the region. The Beauty Secrets' customers in Jordan will now have access to a wide range of premium European beauty products, including skincare, haircare, makeup, and fragrances."We are excited to bring The Beauty Secrets to Jordan," said Mr. Amro Al-syaweh, Founder & CEO of "The Beauty Secrets". "We believe that our commitment to quality, authenticity, and customer satisfaction will resonate with customers in Jordan, just as it has with our customers in Saudi Arabia. We are confident that our premium European beauty products will be well received in Jordan, and we look forward to serving our new customers there."The Beauty Secrets' expansion in the Middle East is part of its long-term strategy to become a leading beauty company in the region. The company plans to open more branches in the coming months, including in other countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region.Also, The Beauty Secrets' expansion in the Middle East is a positive sign for the company and its customers. The company's dedication to quality and authenticity has made it a trusted name in the Saudi beauty industry, and its expansion will allow it to reach even more customers and provide them with the same exceptional products that have made it a popular choice.“The Beauty Secrets” is committed to providing its customers with the best possible products and services. The company's expansion in the Middle East is a reflection of this commitment, and it is poised to become a leading beauty company in the region.

StickyGinger expands offering and reveals new brand identity

Dubai: After over a decade in the region providing world-class PR services to iconic global brands, StickyGinger today announces it is broadening its offering to include social media, digital, and creative services. The creative & communications agency, now with four talented teams that work both independently, or together as a single, integrated force, marks the news of its growth with the launch of its new website - is also launching its in-house Creative Studio, housing creatives, art directors, animators, digital designers, videographers, content creators and copywriters. The Creative Studio will support the agency’s PR, Social Media and Digital departments as well as provide standalone creative services to local, regional and global brands.Lucy Freeman, Founding Partner of StickyGinger, said: “Our shift towards a more integrated approach comes in response to the demands and needs of our clients. More and more we are seeing brands require end-to-end communications solutions that help meet their communication as well as commercial objectives. Our new in-house studio, social and digital expertise, perfectly complements our PR mindset to deliver award-winning work for some of the biggest and most recognisable brands in the world.”The agency’s Creative Studio has already been instrumental in the launch of Levi’s latest out-of-home Ramadan campaign, “Good Today, Better Tomorrow.” delivering the concept, production, artwork and social media assets. The outdoor advertising campaign is live across the UAE and KSA and can also been seen in-store and via Levi’s regional social media channels.As part of the expansion of the agency, StickyGinger has revealed a bold new visual identity. Inspired by the idea that “Great Work Matters”, the agency’s new brand is intended to let its ideas do the talking.StickyGinger was founded in 2011 and has since grown to over 50 consultants across Dubai and Riyadh. It counts Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Bang & Olufsen, De’Longhi Group, Michelin Guide Dubai, Marriott and more within its current client portfolio.

Al-Futtaim Toyota named best sports brand at MENA Sports Industry Awards

Dubai: Al-Futtaim Toyota has been recognised for its outstanding achievements in the MENA region’s sports industry with the receipt of the Gold Award in the category of the Best Innovative Sports Brand of the Year award at the 10th annual Sports Industry Awards for 2023, a night that celebrated the best talent and efforts from across region in a glamorous gala ceremony at Atlantis, The Palm.Chosen by a resounding public vote, the award was presented in recognition of the successful staging of the Toyota Motorsport Academy, a ground-breaking grassroots initiative from Al-Futtaim Toyota. The Academy brought the UAE’s automotive and off-roading communities together in a first-of-its-kind driver development programme designed to enhance their sporting skills and talent, and give one participant the chance to become the 2023 Al-Futtaim Toyota Gazoo Racing Off-Road Ambassador for the UAE. All the heart-racing excitement and passion of the Toyota Motorsport Academy is now streaming on Shahid, as the region’s first homegrown motorsports reality TV series.Al-Futtaim Toyota was also nominated for two other awards on the night in the categories of Best Event and Best Sports Marketing Campaign.Established in the Middle East in 2012, the Sports Industry Awards series is the official celebration of the leaders, decision-makers, organisations, facilities, and campaigns that have contributed to the development of sport in the Middle East.Commenting on the occasion, Jacques Brent, Managing Director, Al-Futtaim Toyota & Lexus, said: “Al-Futtaim Toyota is deeply committed to supporting the sporting community and upholding the spirit of adventure, fair competition and the pursuit of excellence that are found in both amateur and professional sports events. We are therefore extremely proud to receive the award for Best Innovative Sports Brand, which recognises the incredible efforts the team at Al-Futtaim Toyota and their partners put into hosting this hugely successful first edition of the Toyota Motorsport Academy. We are thrilled at this overwhelming recognition, which is a culmination of Al-Futtaim Toyota’s decades-long commitment and support for the region’s sporting industry. Through our partnership with the Sports Industry Awards, as well as initiatives such as the Toyota Motorsport Academy, we can further develop this culture and our historic ties with the region’s sporting community, and engage and give back to them by recognising, and rewarding the highest achievers in sports in the MENA region.”Katib Belkhodja, Customer Centricity Director at Al-Futtaim Automotive, added, “Being named the Best Innovative Sports Brand in the region is a proud and humbling moment, and certainly a strong endorsement of our strategy from the region’s motorsport industry and community. While we sponsor major sporting events in the UAE (Dubai Baja and Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge), we wanted to develop a programme where we put our customers and motorsport fans at the centre of all the action, by giving them a chance to compete and achieve their sporting dreams. This inspired the launch of the new Toyota Motorsport Academy, which added a new dimension to our customer engagement, both offline and online, and this is something that only the most popular automotive brand in the country could make happen – Al-Futtaim Toyota. From the beginning our mission has been to own the motorsports territory, and this has been clearly reaffirmed by the award.”Building on our 50-Year Motorsports HeritageGlobally, Toyota has an illustrious sporting history spanning five decades of successful participations in the World Rally Championship, Formula One, FIA Cross Country World Cup and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. From the championship-winning Toyota Yaris GR WRC to the Toyota Hilux that has enjoyed huge success in the Dakar Rally, Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the Dubai Baja, Toyota vehicles have championed the spirit of motorsport at the highest level, both on and off the road.Within the UAE, Al-Futtaim Toyota is committed to supporting the motorsports industry, with sponsorship of iconic home-grown sporting events including the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the Dubai Baja.January 2023 witnessed another exciting chapter in the motorsports heritage of Toyota with the launch of the UAE’s first Toyota Motorsport Academy, offering the off-roading community a chance to hone their skills and become serious contenders within the arena. The programme initially received an incredible 1200 applications, shortlisted to the top 150 with participation from 13 different nationalities, with a strong showing from UAE nationals and women racers – a remarkable achievement for the first edition of the Academy.

Ripple expands in the Middle East

Dubai: On the back of strong growth in the Middle East, Ripple, the leader in enterprise blockchain and crypto solutions, is expanding its presence in Dubai by opening a new office location in the heart of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and bringing Swell Global 2023, the seventh edition of its annual customer conference, to Dubai on November 8-9.Ripple has long focused on serving customers around the world with over 90% of the company’s business outside the US. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is a key market for the company, with around 20% of all RippleNet customers, such as SABB, Qatar National Bank, Lulu Financial Holdings, Al-Ansari Exchange, and RAK Bank, based here. Over half of Ripple’s MENA payment volume consists of cross-border payments such as remittances from the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to India. In 2020, the company chose the DIFC as the location for its MENA headquarters due to Dubai’s innovation-forward regulations, expansive network and reputation as a leading global financial centre.“We chose Dubai as both a key office for Ripple, and to bring Swell Global to the city, in large part due to its forward-thinking regulatory environment. Regulators here have risen to the challenge of establishing a framework that allows the local crypto industry to thrive, create jobs and increase economic growth, while also ensuring participants act in a responsible manner, ” said Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple CEO. “Dubai is playing an important part in shaping the world’s future economy. By demonstrating truly visionary leadership, the Emirate has positioned itself as an exciting fintech hub that is embracing crypto and blockchain technologies to bring innovation and foreign investment into the space.“

Abu Dhabi partners with Ranveer Singh as Destination Brand Ambassador

Abu Dhabi: Experience Abu Dhabi has today announced Indian superstar, and pop culture icon Ranveer Singh, as an official ambassador, inspiring visitors to discover the diverse range of experiences that can be enjoyed on a trip to Abu Dhabi. During the two-year partnership, Ranveer will share his holiday highlights, inviting Indian travelers to find their pace in Abu Dhabi and enjoy everything that the destination has to offer, from an action-packed calendar of events including IIFA, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi NBA Games, to the variety of adventures and cultural experiences that can inspire, excite and restore. Ranveer commences his exciting role by starring in Abu Dhabi’s new summer campaign film, ‘One Summer Isn’t Enough’. In the film, audiences will witness Ranveer explore some of Abu Dhabi’s hotspots, from soaking up the sun in the chilled pools of Saadiyat Beach Club to taking in the wonder at Louvre Abu Dhabi and racing around the famous Yas Marina Circuit, before enjoying retail therapy at one of the city’s incredible malls. A true showman, Ranveer could not leave Abu Dhabi without perfecting the iconic Al Ayyala dance – deeply rooted in UAE culture, it involves performers using thin bamboo canes to move to the steady beat of drums. Ranveer's infectious enthusiasm and passion for Abu Dhabi is sure to inspire every traveler to add Abu Dhabi to their summer bucket list. With so many things to do, summer is an ideal time to visit the UAE capital. Just like Ranveer, Indian travellers can be inspired by Abu Dhabi’s rich culture and heritage scene across23 locations, including Qasr Al Hosn and the presidential palace of Qasr Al Watan. Alternatively, those looking for adventure can reach new heights at one of Abu Dhabi’s many theme parks including Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. Meanwhile, couples can escape to a private and secluded desert island retreat of Nurai Island, just 15 minutes away by boat, or enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime meal at one of Abu Dhabi’s recently awarded Michelin-starred and Michelin-recognised restaurants. An exciting calendar of events will make this an unforgettable summer, including the return of IIFA in May, unrivalled family fun at Paw Patrol Live, as well as an exhilarating concert by rock legends Gun n’ Roses. Ranveer Singh commented, “I am delighted to be the destination ambassador for Abu Dhabi This is the most fun I've had behind the camera! I've been visiting the emirate for years, and it feels like a second home to me. Now, I have the opportunity to share what makes it so special with the world. Every time I visit, there is something new to discover, and I always leave with countless memories and a strong desire to return. With so much to see and do, and just a short three-hour flight from Mumbai, Abu Dhabi is a must-visit holiday destination for everyone to experience." Her Excellency Nouf AlBoushelaibi, Executive Director, Strategic Marketing & Communication Sector, Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, commented: "We are excited to announce Superstar Ranveer Singh as our Abu Dhabi brand ambassador for the Indian market. With his energy and passion for travel, Ranveer embodies the spirit of Abu Dhabi - a destination that offers a diverse range of experiences for everyone to enjoy at their own pace. Through this partnership, we aim to share Ranveer's love for Abu Dhabi with India and the world, and showcase the destination's unique and captivating offerings, from its unrivalled family fun to its intangible heritage and culture, stunning nature and adventure, and everything in between. We look forward to an exciting two-year journey with Ranveer, as we continue to create unforgettable experiences for our visitors." As well as an action-packed calendar, visitors will be able to make the most of their summer holiday in Abu Dhabi with an exclusive, limited-time deal of ‘stay more, pay less’ for trips booked between four to seven nights. Valid from 1 May to 30 September, and available to book from 8 March, travellers can opt for a city getaway, select a gorgeous resort surrounded by turquoise waters, or book a family escape for the kids to enjoy at an amazing value.

Arab Advisors Group unveils report on MENA's 5G status

Amman: In preparation for the launch of its 5G summit in June 2023, Arab Advisors Group released a new comprehensive analytical telecommunication report. The report focuses on countries across MENA with and without launched 5G services. Arab Advisors Group shed the light on 5G network expansions and coverages, as well as disclosed 5G-related indicators. As for countries without 5G launches, the report further examined the role of governmental bodies in facilitating successful 5G launches in the Middle East and North Africa, and 5G trials among telcos in preparation towards their launches.Under the Patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, Arab Advisors Group, a leading provider of research and analysis in the telecom and media industries, is proud to announce its upcoming 5G Summit ( in Amman, Jordan, in June 6, 2023 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.5G technology promises to bring a massive enhancement for businesses and people, with a significant paradigm shift in communications and technology. However, the 5G promise is yet to be delivered. In its 17th summit this year, Arab Advisors Group will bring together thought leaders, stakeholders, C-Level executives, and directors from across the MENA region to share their expertise and thoughts about the true promises and the challenges of a viable 5G launch.Governmental bodies play vital roles in facilitating and catalyzing successful 5G launches - setting clear 5G roadmaps and strategies, and publicly disclosing adequate and timely indicators to name a few. Roadmaps and strategies present governments’ expectations for digitized and well-developed ICT sectors, and highlight telecom operators’ part in supporting their governments’ visions. The advancement of any ecosystem is also strongly tied to publicly disclosed key performance indicators (“KPIs”). Sources of similar indicators vary across the telecom industry; nevertheless, the most credible and expected source of indicators is governmental bodies.Governmental bodies are not the sole contributors towards successful 5G launches. Telecom operators play imperative part in pushing towards 5G launches through network upgrades, expansions, and 5G trials. In alignment with its summit launch, Arab Advisors Group released a new analytical report which tackles prerequisite measures by telecom operators and regulators to ensure successful 5G network launches across the MENA region. Arab Advisors Group further discusses 5G network coverages for MENA-based telecom operators, highlighting a wide range of achievements in the GCC. Lastly, we present 5G-related KPIs released by telecom regulators and operators in the Gulf.As part of its continuous reliable primary research-based analysis, Arab Advisors Group released this report which answers the following questions:How are MENA governmental bodies catalyzing smooth and successful 5G launches?Do MENA’s telecom markets have adequate and timely disclosed 5G-related indicators?What preparation measures are telecom operators in the Arab World taking towards their 5G launches?How intense are 5G trials in Arab countries without commercial 5G services?How did the GCC’s 5G markets differ during a span of 4 years in terms of coverages and expansions?“According to our findings, about 30% of the telecom operators in Arab countries without commercial 5G services announced 5G trials. The intensity of these trials is considered low, with Tunisia being the only country with sufficient 5G trial announcements between June 2019 and February 2023.” Ms. Hiba Rabadi, Arab Advisors Group’s Deputy General Manager noted. “The lack of announcements may not indicate a lack of trials but rather a lack of public disclosure. Overall, the modest number of trials and their low intensity suggest that more work is needed for operators to select suitable solutions and understand network behavior in real-life situations.” Added Rabadi.“One noticeable advancement in the GCC’s 5G networks is the transition towards standalone 5G (“5G SA”). A few telecom operators across Kuwait, KSA, and the UAE announced transitioning from non-standalone 5G networks to 5G SA ones, while others announced testing their 5G SA networks.” noted Rabadi.Arab Advisors Group will be releasing a new report series with a focus on each GCC country. The series will overview 5G services on an operator level, frequency bands utilized, and collaborations with telecom vendors to launch 5G. Additionally, Arab Advisors Group will examine 5G monetization by telecom operators, alongside disclosed benefits of 5G. Lastly, the series will shed the light on governmental support in each country towards successful launches.Arab Advisors Group published four individual reports pertaining to each region (The GCC and Yemen, The Maghreb, The Levant, and Egypt and Sudan) with separate data sheets detailing all OTT offerings per region.Please contact Arab Advisors Group for more details or to get a copy of the reports’ Table of Contents.The reports were released to Arab Advisors Group’s subscribers and can be purchased for a fee of US$ 7,000.

Prism Digital launches Euromercato's bespoke e-commerce site

Dubai – Euromercato, a leading food store supplying authentic Italian Food and brands, has hired Prism Digital, a Dubai-based full-service digital marketing company to design a bespoke mobile-first e-commerce website to drive its foray into direct-to-consumer e-commerce business.Prism has built a new custom-made e-commerce website on Shopify platform, with more than 1000+ gourmet products provided by Euromercato. Each section within the e-commerce website design has been customized to create location-centric shipping and delivery across the seven emirates. The multi-device responsive website also has cross-browser compatibility, combined with effective SEO practices to help increase the brand’s online presence by reaching out to a broader audience to accelerate sales.Speaking about the partnership with Prism, Mr. Al Sehhi, Managing Director of Euromercato, commented, “We have partnered with Prism to redesign our entire online presence from our website to social media and SEO. Since they have taken over our digital marketing, our brand visibility and sales have increased and our visual identity online has vastly improved. They manage all our digital marketing and we are very happy with their services. We look forward to working with them over the next couple of years to strengthen our presence online and drive more value to our customers and partners.” Speaking on the website launch, Mr. Lovetto Nazareth, Managing Director, Prism Digital, commented, “Euromercato is looking to capitalize on its quality and reputation in the B2B segment and quickly become a major B2C and even a direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand. In this regard, the brand wanted to undergo a detailed strategic and systematic makeover in its website design and functionalities. We understood the requirement of the client backed by our expansive experience in the e-commerce website development space and tailor-made the Euromercato website with a streamlined user journey and “one click sale” methodology.”The Euromercato website is very fast on every device and loads in under 0.28 seconds. The smart technology on the website has integrated lead generation functionalities by capturing, tracking, and contacting leads to ensure that the visitors on the website are converted. Furthermore, it also provides powerful tools to the admin giving them a detailed view of the e-store performance, track sales, traffic sources, and customer behaviour. Its high-end security features, a vast range of third-party integrations, insightful analytics, and user-friendly interface make it one of the most comprehensive websites within the food space category.

How women-led tech startups drive innovations

Dubai: The tech industry has traditionally been male-dominated, but women entrepreneurs are making significant strides and changing the game with fresh perspectives and innovative ideas. Women-led tech startups are driving change and creating a more diverse and inclusive industry.A Citigroup report published in 2022 revealed that increasing female representation in the tech industry could add $2 trillion to global GDP. This highlights the importance of creating more opportunities and providing support for women to pursue careers in this field. It is evident that there is a need for increased initiatives aimed at encouraging and empowering women to take on roles in tech.Women entrepreneurs bring unique strengths to the tech industry, including empathy, collaboration, and creativity. They are breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations of women in tech.However, data from the PitchBook Platform reveals that in 2022, companies founded exclusively by women received only 2.1% of the total capital invested in venture-backed startups in the US, emphasizing the persistent gender disparity that exists in the venture capital industry. This highlights the need for greater investment in female-led startups.Realiste, an AI-powered proptech company based in Dubai, is proud to have a significant number of women in leadership roles, including Anastasia Denisova, the CEO of Realiste in the MENA region. Under Anastasia's leadership, the company has integrated with 27 real estate developers, attracted more than 50,000 users, and achieved impressive growth. This demonstrates the valuable perspective and expertise that women bring to leadership roles in the tech industry.A report by the Dubai Future Foundation shows that women now make up 45% of the UAE's startup workforce, a significant increase from previous years, indicating a growing trend towards greater gender diversity in the startup industry in the MENA region."Women entrepreneurs bring a unique perspective to leadership in tech that can lead to better innovation and problem-solving," said Anastasia Denisova, CEO of Realiste MENA. "At Realiste, we are committed to promoting inclusivity in all aspects of our operations, and we are proud to see the trend of women's rising role in tech entrepreneurship in MENA."It is clear that there is a need for greater support for women entrepreneurs in the tech industry, such as extending support services, promoting training opportunities that foster growth and development, facilitating access to capital for women business owners, and promoting a female entrepreneurial culture. By providing these resources and opportunities, we can help create a more inclusive and equitable industry that benefits not only women entrepreneurs but also the tech industry and the economy as a whole. It is time to take action and work towards creating a brighter and more diverse future for women in tech entrepreneurship.

Green Corp takes a stake in Badia Farms to expand sustainable food production

Manama, Bahrain: Bahrain-based agribusiness platform Green Corp has acquired a stake in Badia Farms, the GCC’s first vertical farming company supplying gourmet produce to hotels and discerning consumers, to grow its sustainable food production projects across the GCC.The boost from Green Corp and its ultimate owner, leading Shari’ah-compliant global alternative investment company Gulf Islamic Investments (GII), will enable Badia Farms to expand its advanced production models and pesticide-free farms into Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, enhancing regional food production opportunities significantly.Green Corp takes a stake in Badia Farms to expand sustainable food production across the GCC. Image courtesy: Gulf Islamic Investments LLCEstablished in 2016, Badia Farms’ sustainable farming techniques produce nutritious fruits and vegetables without sunlight or soil. Its energy-efficient methods use up to 90% less water than traditionally-grown crops, with significantly higher yields.Omar Al Jundi, Badia Farms’ CEO, commented, “Green Corp’s partnership with Badia Farms demonstrates the strength of local backing for home-grown companies to resolve regional and global challenges. This funding provides Badia Farms with powerful means to enhance healthy domestic food production in the GCC. We look forward to providing premium, locally-produced fruits and vegetables using our high-tech farms across Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.Saleh AlBelushi, CEO of Green Corp, added, “Badia Farms fits perfectly into Green Corp’s regional development plan for food production and processing. Its fine products will be a success in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, as they have been in the UAE. Badia Farms also shares our strong focus on sustainability, as we look for opportunities to develop sustainable agricultural, aquaculture, food processing and production projects across the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC). Green Corp would welcome additional partners to develop these regional food sustainability plans together”.