Huawei and du jointly released the world's first 5.5G Villa

 At the 2023 Global Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF), the global tech company Huawei, in collaboration with du, from Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), unveiled the ground-breaking world’s first 5G Advanced (5G-A) demonstration Villa, an archetype for the future smart home living powered by a staggering 10Gbps networks. Early in March this year, both entities signed an MOU on 5.5G centered on 5G-A technological innovation, application exploration, and ecosystem development. This latest reveal stands as a testament to their joint innovation prowess.The 5G-A Villa epitomizes the seamless integration of cutting-edge technologies, offering an unparalleled smart home experience enriched with applications such as naked-eye 3D and XR. As consumers increasingly crave superior experiences, this inspires the evolution of content and applications, subsequently amplifying the demand on network capabilities. To satiate these growing needs, carriers find themselves compelled to amplify their home networks to a remarkable 10Gbps.Speaking at the launch, Fahad Al Hassawi, the CEO of du commented, “From the beginning of the 5G era, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) has been a transformative catalyst, empowering us to deliver cutting-edge solutions to our valued customers. As pioneers, we at du are honored to pave the way with such novel innovations. Our enduring partnership with Huawei has been fruitful consistently, and with the introduction of FWA², we are poised to redefine the boundaries of user experience, offering our subscribers unparalleled internet connectivity indoors.”Echoing this sentiment, Li Peng, Huawei's Corporate Senior Vice President and President of the company's Carrier BG, remarked, “Today, Huawei is excited to launch the 5G-A Powered Villa at the Home of the Future. The showcase offers a first-hand look at the infinite possibilities that 5G-Advanced technology will bring to future homes and the better network experience that 5G-A will offer mobile users. It is the result of du's continuous pursuit of a better digital experience. This achievement is only the beginning. Moving forward, Huawei will continually support du in its effort to build the best 5G networks, explore the commercial use of 5G-Advanced networks, while championing du’s leadership in this transformative era.”5G-A Villa sheds light on the boundless potential that deterministic experience technology heralds for the households of tomorrow. Harnessing Huawei's innovative FWA² solution, it illustrates how, in the 5G era, FWA became an operator's powerhouse tool for rapid user expansion. As we transition to 5G-A/5.5G, the FWA² solution, encompassing FWA Pro, FWA Lite, and FWA Biz, promises unparalleled services for discerning customers. Specifically, FWA Pro is engineered to support a phenomenal rate of 10Gbps, thus reimagining smart home living and unlocking vast business opportunities.The unveiling of the villa coincided with the 14th Global Mobile Broadband Forum, themed “Bring 5.5G into Reality” from October 10 to 11 in Dubai, UAE. Hosted by Huawei and backed by industry partners GSMA, GTI and the SAMENA Telecommunications Council, the forum showcased a deep dive into the successes of 5G, the maturity of the ecosystem, the fast-track commercialization of 5G-A/5.5G, and insights into how mobile broadband technology is shaping the future and transforming people's lives and industries.

Digital Ad Expert: expansion to MENA region offering courses in Arabic & French

Aleph, which connects local and global advertisers with billions of consumers worldwide through digital media, is excited to announce that Digital Ad Expert by Aleph, a social initiative to create economic opportunities through digital advertising education, is now available in Arabic & French. The program was originally launched in MENA in April 2023 in English and Spanish.Digital Ad Expert by Aleph aims to equip the next generation of digital marketers with premium, free skills-based education through its Digital Ad Expert Certificate program in countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria among other MENA countries, where there is vast opportunity for digital growth and a rise in demand for digital marketing talent.The digital advertising landscape is a fast-developing industry, with high demand for experts. Digital Advertising spend alone in the MENA region reached $4.58B in 2021, nearly a full $1B increase on the previous year according to the IAB GCC. Growth in digital advertising reflects a growing shift towards digitizing economies in MENA. In the region, fully digitizing the economy would lead to a 46% increase in GDP per capita over 30 years - or in dollar terms, a long-term gain of $1.6 trillion, according to The World Bank.The demand for digital skills remains high in the MENA region and Aleph's Digital Ad Expert Certificate program accredits newcomers, with no prior experience, to effectively learn how to advertise on the world's leading digital platforms. The program provides specific, in-depth knowledge of the major global advertising platforms including TikTok, LinkedIn, Snapchat, ???? (the platform formerly known as Twitter), and Meta, among others. To join, applicants simply need to register for free on   and complete the introductory course. The program is hosted on the same platform, which also offers updated content, best cases, and other valuable material for consultation, in addition to masterclasses by renowned experts from Aleph.Gaston Taratuta, CEO of Aleph stated: "We are on a mission to empower a new generation of global digital professionals. I want us to close the digital skills gap and certify as many people as we can to set them up for success in an ever evolving digital world. We owe it to the communities we are in. I believe that education is the only currency that never devaluates and through our platform, we are offering that currency to aspiring digital marketers and advertisers worldwide. They will have the access and knowledge they need to flourish in the digital era as we make digital advertising accessible to all."Already more than 280k students in over 140 countries have registered in the Digital Ad Expert by Aleph initiative, providing glowing reviews, averaging 9.2 points on a scale of 10. Ever since the launch back in April, the number of registered students from the MENAT region reached 45,124 from 14 countries. We have received more than 11,000 requests for the French language and more than 9,000 requests for the Arabic language and now with the launch of both languages we expect the number of registrations and certification to increase even more. Digital Ad Expert by Aleph also has alliances with several prominent universities in the region including American University in Dubai, The American University in Cairo, DGCI. The Knowledge Hub Universities among many others in the pipeline.

The Surpluss wins 2023 London Business School’s MENA startup competition

The Surpluss, world’s first B2B platform for industrial asset exchange, has won the London Business School (LBS) MENA Startup Competition 2023 at the AstroLabs Academy Campus in Dubai last night.The Surpluss is an innovative enterprise offering cross industrial collaboration that aims to convert under-utilised resources into value. With a growing customer base in the UK, Denmark, and the UAE, the company is set to assist 500 companies in the UAE alone within the next year to take transformative climate action to halve their emissions by 2030.Sharif El-Badawi, judge, and the CEO of Dubai Future District Fund, commended The Surpluss for their ingenuity and said: “As venture capitalists and investors, what piques our interest are out-of-the-box and novel business ideations that provide exclusive solutions across the board. Our enthusiasm lies in fostering and elevating such startups, as they are the ones to bring real change to the entrepreneurial frontier in the region. The Surpluss platform has the potential to revolutionise the way we think about and manage industrial waste. It is especially timely given the upcoming COP28 in the UAE, which will focus on accelerating sustainable solutions. We eagerly await to see what The Surpluss has in store and look forward to witnessing all the participants ascend to exceptional levels of success."Rana Hajirasouli, the founder of The Surpluss, said winning the competition, now in its second year, would open new doors for the business. “The Surpluss was created as an answer to the climate change challenges that businesses face. Winning this competition in the Year of Sustainability resonates our purpose louder. This distinguished award will greatly improve our recognition across the UAE and MENA region, helping us to attract new and exciting opportunities, and deepen the strength of our network,” she said.Zeal, a Cairo based fintech company, and Hulexo, a UAE-based retail ERP system provider were the competition runners-up.The 2023 LBS MENA Startup Competition builds on the event’s growing reputation as a dynamic platform for fostering innovation in MENA. Supported by the esteemed LBS Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital (IEPC), the competition has solidified its position as a crucial link connecting aspiring entrepreneurs with venture capitalists and investors throughout the region. It represents a distinctive opportunity for founders to catapult their startups to greater success, secure essential financial support, expand their market reach, and receive valuable media visibility.This year’s competition attracted more than 90 applications and saw ten seed-stage startup finalists present their pitches to a panel of distinguished judges.From sponsorship packages and awards generously offered by Innobayt, AWS Activate, Floward and community partner AstroLabs, to an impressive cash sponsorship of $USD10,000 from BNK Holding KSCC, a privately held shareholding company headquartered in the State of Kuwait, this year’s event attracted considerable backing. Other forms of invaluable support included immersive workshops hosted by respected businesses such as Spark! Studios, ADG Legal, Bambucorn, and Khwarizmi Ventures.Bader Al-Kharafi, Founder of BNK Holding & Vice Chairman & Group CEO of Zain Group, said: “This competition continues to showcase the remarkable entrepreneurial talent in the MENA region, reaffirming our belief in the potential for innovation and growth in this dynamic ecosystem. Witnessing the creativity and dedication of these startups has been inspiring, and I am excited to see their continued progress. BNK Holding remains committed to supporting emerging businesses and the London Business School MENA Startup Competition, and this competition aligns perfectly with our mission to foster entrepreneurship. Congratulations to all the winners, and may your success serve as an inspiration to others. We look forward to witnessing your continued growth and innovation in the years to come.”London Business School’s IEPC is a key backer of the competition, offering access to education, training and business, and the alumni network that it has produced and continues to support.In total the entire package of support is valued at a total of $USD80,000.LBS Dean François Ortalo-Magné said: “On behalf of LBS and the School’s Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital, my heartfelt congratulations to the winners. The School very much looks forward to hearing more about the continued success and future endeavours of these businesses. What heartens me about the LBS MENA Startup Competition is the participation from across the region in this competition, and the support the School, its local alumni community and the IEPC is giving to the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. We are witnessing, right across MENA, the development of an ecosystem that allows for the fast flow of talent, information, and resources that helps entrepreneurs quickly find what they need at each stage of growth.”

FinMark Communications launches the fourth episode of the "Design Your Future"

Manama : "Design Your Future," an initiative founded by FinMark Communications with the support of Lead Partner CrediMax, proudly announces the release of its fourth podcast episode featuring the insightful perspective of Ms. Mashael Isa Fairooz, Founding Partner, and Board of Director at JEO Capital Management. The episode was unveiled at Harbour House in the presence of prominent CEOs and senior leaders representing both the private and public sectors.The “Design Your Future” podcast series has become a popular part of the campaign, which is dedicated to is dedicated to empowering high school graduates, university students, and vocational training program participants in actively shaping their future. The fourth episode of the podcast series was presented once again by Ms. Zahraa Taher, Managing Director of FinMark Communications. In keeping with the tradition of involving promising young talent, Mohammed Helal, a Networking Engineering Student, and the founder of e-sports Majlis in Bahrain, also took part in the episode.Ms. Fairooz emphasized the significance of creativity, resilience, and networking in one's career journey. She highlighted that creativity plays a vital role in any career path, with each life experience contributing to skills development. Ms. Fairooz noted that challenges are an inherent part of a successful career, requiring perseverance and effort, but the ultimate rewards are worth the journey. Furthermore, she stressed the importance of networking as a key to success. She encouraged students to expand their horizons by interacting with individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and countries. In a departure from traditional thinking, she emphasized that a degree, while valuable, should not overshadow the significance of practical experience gained through internships, even if they are unrelated to one's field of study."Design Your Future" was inaugurated in February 2023, aligning with the Kingdom of Bahrain's vision to accelerate human capital development and cultivate a highly skilled and qualified national workforce, as outlined in Bahrain's Economic Vision 2030. This initiative, in addition to its dynamic podcast series, comprises engaging skills development days, and various programmes aimed at nurturing core competencies and attributes indispensable for future success.

Al Ghurair Centre plans 25 new shopping outlets & a brand-new food hall concept

Dubai: Al Ghurair Centre, Dubai’s first shopping mall, has announced the opening of 25 new shopping and dining additions, as part of a major ongoing revamp that has seen the gradual establishment of a new entertainment complex and development plans for a diverse and expansive food hall.The new units bring the total store count at Al Ghurair Centre, which first opened its doors in Deira in 1981, to over 240, with a host of big brands set to be unveiled over the coming months. Under Armour and Giordano opened their doors in September, while Nike, Converse and a new large format Sun and Sand Sports will launch later this month. Fila, Homebox and a host of others are set to be operational before the turn of the year, while Zataar W Zeit, Brand Bazaar, and many more major brands will open in 2024.With 15 million people expected to come through the doors of Al Ghurair Centre in 2023 alone, the latest expansion plans will actively encourage even more visitors to one of the region’s most loved and lauded shopping malls.Spanning an impressive 3,700 square meters, GLITCH stands as the latest family entertainment hub in the emirate, offering over 30 interactive attractions, including a 10-pin bowling alley, soft-play areas, climbing walls, and much more. Since its opening in June, GLITCH has already drawn an average daily footfall of nearly 3,000 visitors, with total daily sales exceeding AED 30,000. The Centre’s future enhancements include the launch of GLITCH Laser and GLITCH Kart in 2024.Meanwhile, Flayva, the new upcoming ‘street food’ hall will comprise of 23 all-new F&B units, all of which are a mix of homegrown and international concepts, tailored to the local market. With an overall capacity to seat almost 500 people, spanning across 3,318sq, the new dining destination promises a gastronomic experience like no other with diverse culinary options.Anwar Atari, CEO Chief Executive Officer - Properties, Commercial, and Residential, said on the latest developments: “The COVID-19 pandemic brought challenging times for malls, causing significant shifts in market dynamics and deal structures. However, we are proud to say that Al Ghurair Centre has achieved the highest occupancy levels, with international and prominent local brands eager for visibility.He continued, "We are committed to enhancing the leisure and entertainment experiences for our valued customers. This began with the successful launch of GLITCH, one of Dubai's premier family entertainment venues, and it will soon be followed by the introduction of an authentic street food hall, among other exciting developments, within the next 12 months.”

UAE businesses face growing demand for ESG action

Dubai: A landmark survey revealed the continued strength of community expectations for environmental, social and governance (ESG) action among UAE corporations. Globally, business leaders are warned that public expectations for authentic action on ESG issues remain high in the face of cost-of-living pressures, and inaction — combined with silence about their efforts — could cost them customers.The findings come as part of the third annual ESG Monitor, a 12-nation survey led by SEC Newgate*, the global strategic communications, advocacy and research group, with regional office in Dubai.Over 90% of UAE respondents agree that corporates must prioritise ESG issues, indicating a shift from a sole focus on economic contributions. The research shows that we may have reached a tipping point, suggesting that the need for genuine action by corporations to address the impacts they have on people and the planet is no longer up for debate.Some of the main UAE findings include:86% rate their interest in ESG issues as high at 7+ out of 10, up by 3% since last year;61% are aware of NetZero, a significant increase from just 56% in 2022;86% gave the national government a rating of 7+ out of 10 when it came to acting responsibly on ESG issues; however, ratings of small companies have declined significantly this year;The research shows that community opinions on ESG issues are translating into action and impacting behaviours. Compared to other countries, citizens in the UAE appear to place a higher importance on ESG issues in their day-to-day decision making. In particular, in the types of foods they eat (77% vs. 62% globally), the types of products they buy (76% vs. 62%), and how they choose to travel (74% vs. 55%).There is a stark difference by generation across all surveyed countries, with Millennials far more likely to factor ESG issues into their decisions. For example, when it comes to the type of investments they make, 57% of Millennials rate ESG issues 7+ out of 10 on importance, compared to 47% of Baby Boomers. When considering a job with a new employer, 58% of Millennials give ESG issues a 7+ importance rating compared to 39% of Baby Boomers.Speaking on the findings, Elena Gramatica, Managing Partner, SEC Newgate Middle East, said: “The third annual ESG Monitor highlights a shifting corporate landscape in the UAE. Traditionally, businesses were mainly seen as contributors to the economy, but now, our community demands they balance financial success with ESG responsibilities. People expect action on ESG issues and a voice on matters vital to employees and customers. To respond to the community, companies must proactively address their environmental impact and support others throughout their operations, from customers and employees to supply chains.”Last year's survey identified a 'Great Disconnect' in ESG communications, and the 2023 survey shows that this disconnect still persists, particularly in the UAE. The community wants clearer communication of ESG efforts from companies, but trust in this messaging remains a challenge in the region.Fiorenzo Tagliabue, Group CEO of SEC Newgate, commented: “Overall, it is clear from our research that consumer expectations have changed and the global community now expects organisations to think about their impacts on the planet and people from the outset.“Employers will also have to respond to generational and national differences when communicating around the ESG issue. The good news is that community support for ESG agendas is continuing to grow, and there are now a multitude of organisations that companies can partner with to further their ESG credentials and communicate these initiatives in more impactful ways.”Additional global ESG Monitor research findings:67% rated their interest in ESG issues at 7 or more out of 10, up from 56% in 202277% agree it is important for companies to take action on ESG issues71% agree that companies should speak out on issues that are important to their employees and customersMillennials are more optimistic for their country’s future than Baby BoomersThe top three ‘most important’ issues across the globe, the research found that respondents were most concerned about:Addressing the rising cost of living (37% rated in top 3 issues)Ensuring quality, affordable healthcare for everyone (30%)Strengthening the economy (25%)*How the research was conductedParticipants were sourced from global panel provider PureProfile, with questionnaires translated and completed in-language in Colombia, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Italy, Poland, Spain and United Arab Emirates (UAE). Fieldwork was conducted from late July to early August 2023.Quotas were set by age, gender and location to ensure a nationally representative sample of citizens aged 18+, and the final results were weighted by the actual age and gender proportions within each country or territory. For the ‘total’ results, each country is given equal weighting.The full research is available upon request.

Cloudflare helps discover new online threat

Dubai: Cloudflare, Inc., the leading connectivity cloud company, today made public that it helped lead the disclosure of a new novel zero-day vulnerability, dubbed “HTTP/2 Rapid Reset.” This global vulnerability gives attackers the ability to generate attacks larger than anything the Internet had seen before. To help mitigate the impact of this new threat for the entire Internet ecosystem, Cloudflare developed technology purpose-built to automatically block any attack leveraging Rapid Reset for its customers.Cloudflare successfully mitigated these issues and halted potential abuse for all customers, while simultaneously kicking off a responsible disclosure process with two other major infrastructure providers, to extend mitigations for this vulnerability to a large percentage of the Internet prior to disclosing its existence to the general public.“Successfully mitigating this threat for every critical infrastructure organization, customer, and the Internet at-large is the lifeblood of what Cloudflare stands for. We are one of the only companies equipped to identify and address threats of this magnitude, at the speed required to maintain the integrity of the Internet,” said Matthew Prince, CEO at Cloudflare. “And while this DDoS attack and vulnerability may be in a league of their own, there will always be other zero-day, evolving threat actor tactics, and new novel attacks and techniques—the continuous preparation and response to these is core to our mission to help build a better Internet.”Deconstructing HTTP/2 Rapid ResetIn late August 2023, Cloudflare discovered a zero-day vulnerability, developed by an unknown threat actor. The vulnerability exploits the standard HTTP/2 protocol—a fundamental piece to how the Internet and most websites operate. HTTP/2 is responsible for how browsers interact with a website, allowing them to ‘request’ to view things like images and text quickly, and all at once no matter how complex the website. This new attack works by making hundreds of thousands of ‘requests’ and immediately canceling them. By automating this “request, cancel, request, cancel” pattern at scale, threat actors overwhelm websites and are able to knock anything that uses HTTP/2 offline.Cloudflare Traffic Pattern Timeline: Late August 2023-Early October 2023 (Graphic: Business Wire)“Rapid Reset” provides threat actors with a powerful new way to attack victims across the Internet at an order of magnitude larger than anything the Internet has seen before. HTTP/2 is the basis for about 60% of all web applications, and determines the speed and quality of how users see and interact with websites.Based on Cloudflare's data, several attacks leveraging Rapid Reset were nearly three times larger than the largest DDoS attack in Internet history. At the peak of this DDoS campaign, Cloudflare recorded and handled over 201 million requests per second (Mrps), as well as the mitigation of thousands of additional attacks following.How Cloudflare thwarted the attack with Industry peersThreat actors who possess record-shattering attack methods have an extremely difficult time testing and understanding their effectiveness, due to the lack of infrastructure to absorb the attacks. For this reason, they often test against providers like Cloudflare to better understand how their attacks will perform.“While large-scale attacks such as those leveraging vulnerabilities like Rapid Reset can be complex and difficult to mitigate, they provide us unprecedented visibility into new threat actor techniques early in development,” said Grant Bourzikas, CSO at Cloudflare. “While there is no such thing as ‘perfect disclosure,’ with downtime and bumps along the way, thwarting attacks and responding to breaking incidents requires organizations and security teams to live by the ‘assume breach’ mindset the Cloudflare team fosters. Ultimately, this allows us to be a proud partner that helps make the Internet secure.”

Julius Baer promoted Rahul Malhotra to lead emerging markets

Julius Baer Group has announced the promotion of Rahul Malhotra from Global India Head to Lead Emerging Markets and to the newly restructured Group’s Executive Board. Leading the newly created Emerging Markets Region, Mr. Malhotra will be based in Dubai and is set to assume this role at the start of 2024.In his expanded role as a member of the executive board, Malhotra will take on the additional responsibility of overseeing the newly created Emerging Markets region. In addition to his existing role heading the Global India franchise, his remit will now encompass Middle East & Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Israel, Greece, and Turkey. Malhotra will be based in Dubai, given the strategic positioning of the country between Switzerland and India and its growing influence as a financial hub.Commenting on the announcement, Mr. Malhotra said, “The world is changing fast, and successful organisations must evolve rapidly to keep up with the changes. Julius Baer has a vision, structure, and leadership team ready to meet the challenges ahead. I'm excited to be part of this renewed energy and optimism. Julius Baer has built a strong positioning in the Middle East over the last two decades and I look forward to working closely with our talented teams across the region to support our clients in their wealth journeys.”Rahul Malhotra has over thirty years of experience in the financial services industry and has worked at Julius Baer since 2021 where he held the responsibility of overseeing the global India franchise, covering both onshore and non-resident Indians, in addition to overseeing operations in Japan and serving Asian clients from Switzerland and Japan. Prior to joining Julius Baer, he served as the head of Southeast Asia for the regional private banking business at JP Morgan. His professional background also includes roles at Merrill Lynch and Citigroup.

RemotePass secures prestigious SOC 2 Type II Certification

Coinciding with Cybersecurity Awareness Month, RemotePass, the UAE’s leading platform for managing remote teams, has announced that it has achieved the SOC 2 Type II certification, highlighting its dedication to maintaining the highest standards of data security and that its clients’ sensitive information, including payroll and personal details, is managed with utmost care and the highest security measures.SOC 2 Type II is a widely-recognized certification within the technology and cloud computing domains, managed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). It focuses on a company's ability to manage data securely and uphold privacy and confidentiality. Achieving this certification requires a thorough independent audit spanning six months, examining a company’s adherence to stringent criteria that relate to security and operational processes.The certification, which is often a prerequisite for business with public and regulated entities, is vital for RemotePass, enhancing its competitiveness and ability to acquire business. The rigorous assessment and audit enable the company to identify, address vulnerabilities, and enhance its security framework, safeguarding sensitive data. Achieving and maintaining this certification enhances the company’s market standing, credibility, and trust among existing and prospective clients and partners.Kamal Reggad, Co-Founder and CEO of RemotePass, commented, "Securing the SOC 2 Type II certification is not just another badge for RemotePass, but a promise to our clients and remote teams that their data is in safe hands. Our team works tirelessly to ensure that our client’s data is handled with the utmost security and precision. This certification echoes our continuous commitment to providing a platform that businesses can trust, ensuring that every transaction and piece of information is safeguarded with the highest security standards.”Since RemotePass achieved SOC 2 Type I certification in 2022, it has refined RemotePass's internal processes, incorporating regular audits, enhanced security measures, and comprehensive training programs to uphold and elevate its data protection and compliance measures. This recognized standard bolsters confidence in RemotePass's services, giving teams the confidence that their information is secure while they work towards their objectives.Maintaining and enhancing credibility remains a steadfast focus, with RemotePass not only pursuing its SOC 2 Type II certification annually but also exploring other relevant certifications. To ensure enduring compliance, RemotePass employs continuous monitoring, regular internal audits, and swift improvements to its processes.To highlight its commitment to secure remote work solutions, RemotePass will also participate in the upcoming Expand North Star Dubai during GITEX Global 2023.

Middle East travel industry experts convene at Global MICE Congress in Moscow

A large-scale international event in the field of business tourism Meet Global MICE Congress took place in Moscow from 6 to 8 October, attracting over 300 industry experts from 14 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, India, and China. This influential gathering served as a pivotal platform for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) tourism discussions. The congress featured enlightening business sessions, discussions, debates, and B2B negotiations.Topics ranged from the essential qualities cities must possess to attract business tourists to key considerations for this segment and the industry's promising future. Business tourism is vital for Moscow, contributing one-fifth of its total tourist influx. Non-CIS countries leading the tourist arrivals included China, Iran, UAE, Turkey, and India. The UAE ranked fifth in the share of foreign tourists staying in Moscow hotels this summer.Evgeny Kozlov, Chairman of the Moscow City Tourism Committee, highlighted that, “Moscow is a business center, which has all the infrastructure required for hosting international business events. In the first half of 2023, two million business tourists visited the capital - this is 10% more than in the same period of last year. The segment of business travel has not only fully recovered to pre-Covid levels, but has also surpassed them.”To enhance its appeal further, Moscow has adopted a multifaceted approach to attract tourists. The Moscow City Tourism Committee has placed substantial emphasis on promoting business tourism, collaborating closely with travel agencies to ensure a steady influx of tourists to the city.“From the very beginning, our journey to Moscow has been excellent. The city’s infrastructure, innovation and technological sophistication are amazing. Especially worth noting is the possibility of obtaining an e-visa for citizens of many countries. The process takes only a few days and eliminates complicated procedures with documents. Another advantage is the direct flight connection between Moscow and Bahrain. In my opinion, tourists from Bahrain will be very attracted to Moscow in winter time, as well as to the space centre, which shows Russia’s rich past in the field of cosmonautics,” shared Deepak Janardanan, General Manager of Akbar Holidays.Russia introduced e-visas for citizens of 55 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iran, and Kuwait in August. Over 30,000 tourists utilized this streamlined process in its first month, offering a 60-day validity period and a 16-day stay option.Moscow offers a wide range of services catering to business travelers, with 30 venues capable of accommodating over 40,000 attendees for large events. The city boasts 1.9 thousand hotels, 18.5 thousand cafes, and restaurants of various segments, ensuring comfort and convenience for visitors, with English signage at major locations.The Meet Global MICE Congress in Moscow showcased the city's commitment to fostering business tourism, its world-class infrastructure, and its appeal to international travelers. With a strong recovery in the business travel sector and streamlined visa processes, Moscow is poised to remain a top destination for MICE tourism in the Middle East and beyond.

Commvault appoints industry veteran Richard Gadd as Senior VP of EME

Commvault, an enterprise data protection leader for today's global businesses, today appointed Richard Gadd as Senior Vice President of Commvault’s EMEA and India (EMEAI) region. Gadd will lead the region in empowering global organisations with industry-leading cyber resilience offerings that protect and recover data from today’s biggest cyber threats.Gadd brings 25 years of sales experience in the technology industry to Commvault. He most recently held the role of VP and General Manager, EMEA at Cohesity, building his experience in the storage and data management industry. Prior to this, he also held senior roles at Hitachi Vantara, EMC, and Computacenter.In these previous roles, he was successful in growing Hitachi Vantara’s EMEA business to become the company’s largest region worldwide, as well as leading on Cohesity’s EMEA portfolio to make it the organization’s fastest-growing region. Gadd plans to bring this experience into Commvault and achieve similar go-to-market successes within the EMEAI region.“To join one of the longest-established companies in the industry is incredibly exciting,” said Richard Gadd, Senior Vice President EMEAI. “With its strong pedigree in innovation and ground-breaking technology, I’m looking forward to being able to lead and contribute to the Commvault team’s excellent work in empowering global organizations’ cyber resilience going forward. I am very excited to begin this new challenge.”Riccardo Di Blasio, Chief Revenue Officer at Commvault, said: "Recognizing the tremendous potential and the dynamic momentum within the EMEAI region, it was important to onboard a leader of the right caliber, business insight, and engaging persona. In appointing Richard, we are incredibly confident that we have made the right choice. His distinguished track record of guiding several large-scale organisations to accomplish remarkable growth and market share aligns perfectly with the vision and potential we see in him spearheading Commvault's team in EMEAI."

Honeywell to showcase the latest 5G, ML and sensing innovations at Gitex 2023

Dubai: At GITEX 2023, Honeywell will present its newest digital solutions in important industries, helping customers accelerate their digital transformation efforts. The event will take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from October 16-20.“Digital transformation is bringing about widespread change and significant impact throughout the region. Honeywell is an established leader in digital transformation across the Middle East, and through Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)-based solutions, we have enabled many of the region’s major projects to improve performance and efficiency,” said Taylor Smith, vice president and general manager of voice automation at Honeywell’s Productivity Solutions and Services business. “We look forward to showcasing the key solutions that are contributing to fast-growing developments in the region, which is a key priority for local governments.”At the event Honeywell will highlight a diversified portfolio based on software-enabled technologies, including:Fit for purpose tools for industry: Honeywell’s mobility solutions, including the CT30 Handheld Computer, include the technology designed to help transportation, logistics, warehouse and retail workers complete their tasks faster and deliver a superior customer experience.Voice automation technology: Currently available in more than 40 different languages, Honeywell Voice can help oil and gas companies streamline repair and inspection processes while documenting every step to ensure strict compliance with regulations or standard operating procedures. Utilizing machine learning, mobile workers can speak in their native languages to quickly complete tasks.Healthcare technologies: With the Real-Time Health System (RTHS), Honeywell solutions can help save clinicians’ time and limit unnecessary interruptions for patients. The RTHS captures and records patients' vital signs both within the hospital setting and remotely using a wireless device paired with an app. Caregivers can access real-time respiratory and heart rate, skin temperature and posture from a central location, enabling more targeted interventions.Honeywell Building Technology offerings: These ready-now solutions include Smart Cities that connect more than 100,000 IoT sensors, Data Center solutions to optimize uptime, reduce costs and achieve sustainable operations and Cybersecurity technology to help customers protect brand, assets and people. Honeywell has been operating in the Middle East for more than 70 years, creating value for customers and ultimately supporting long-term national development visions and economic diversification. GITEX attendees can experience Honeywell’s offerings at Hall 5, Stand B1 at the DWTC.

UAE gets innovative chalet booking platform: 'Lodging'

An Emirati-owned company has unveiled "Lodging," a cutting-edge booking website designed exclusively for farm owners and visitors seeking and hosting the perfect chalet experience in the United Arab Emirates. Starting in October 2023, this visionary platform invites local farm owners to participate with an exceptionally affordable registration fee.Lodging represents the UAE's best-dedicated platform catering to chalet owners and retreat enthusiasts alike. This innovative platform empowers chalet owners to effortlessly and conveniently rent out their properties to individuals in search of exceptional and comfortable getaways. By joining Lodging through a straightforward and complimentary registration process, you can unlock the full potential of your chalet and generate a lucrative secondary income stream.Founder Faisal Salem Saeed Salem Alhosani expressed his vision, stating, "If you own a chalet in our UAE and wonder how to transform your property into a profitable income source and an ideal destination for relaxation seekers in the Gulf region, Lodging is your answer." He further emphasized, "Regardless of the type of chalet you own, you will find the perfect opportunity on Lodging to showcase it to renters. Whether you own a beachside chalet offering breathtaking sea views or a chalet nestled in pristine natural surroundings for ultimate relaxation and tranquillity, you can present it to attract the perfect guests."Visitors and property owners can easily navigate the user-friendly registration process on and access 24/7 customer support for additional assistance. To cater to diverse preferences, visitors can choose the Arabic language option. They can peruse a diverse range of available chalets, read authentic guest reviews, and explore provided amenities before selecting the chalet that aligns with their needs and budget. With just a few simple clicks, guests can book their stay and prepare for an unforgettable vacation.The primary goal of this pioneering website is to unite all chalets and farms in the UAE, promoting travel, hospitality, and multicultural chalet experiences. As more individuals discover the wealth of expertise within the UAE, their holidays become opportunities to explore and appreciate local chalets and farms, gaining deeper insights into the rich culture of the UAE.

Ghassan Kassabji named CEO; Jad El Rabahi appointed MD at Impact BBDO Dubai

Impact BBDO in Dubai has unveiled a fresh leadership lineup, with Ghassan Kassabji stepping into the role of CEO and Jad El Rabahi assuming the position of Managing Director. Ghassan Kassabji brings substantial regional expertise, with 15 years of service within Omnicom agencies. His journey with Impact BBDO began in 2022 when he took up the role of Chief Growth Officer for MENA. In his new capacity, he will continue to drive growth in the region, while also taking the helm of Impact BBDO's operations in the UAE.Jad El Rabahi, who has been part of the BBDO family since 2009, has most recently been leading the Dubai agency as General Manager. He has overseen a diverse portfolio spanning various industries such as retail, technology, and government during his tenure. Over his 14 years with the company, he has held pivotal roles in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.This announcement follows Impact BBDO's remarkable achievement of being named Cannes Regional Network of the Year for the fourth consecutive year.

Insight Out Consultancy reveals fascinating trends on the hospitality market

Insight Out Consulting, a prominent hospitality consultancy with a reputation for leading-edge market research, has yet again partnered with Phocuswright, the world’s leading travel research authority, to conduct the research and development of its annual Middle East Travel Market Report since its inception in 2012. The report highlights key shifts within the industry, including the development of the region’s travel sector, which is expected to grow by 40% between 2022-2026, mainly led by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).With a 15-year legacy of empowering the region’s travel and hospitality industry, Insight Out Consultancy has a dedicated team of subject matter consultants who conduct primary data collection and executive interviews in the hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors, to answer pressing questions and uncover insights that drive industry evolution. Over the years, the company has assisted a multitude of private and public businesses and organisations including Amadeus, Jumeirah, Seera, and various GCC Tourism bodies in developing data-driven in-depth research in the Middle East.The latest Phocuswright report provides a comprehensive view of the Middle East travel market, including detailed market sizing and projections, distribution trends, analysis of major travel segments (air, hotel, car rental), key developments, and more. It focuses on four key travel markets within the region – the UAE, KSA, Egypt, and Qatar.Commenting on this report, Li Hawkins, Managing Director of Insight Out Consultancy said, “Our research conducted with Phocuswright continues to yield invaluable data and insights into the Middle East’s fast-paced and ever-evolving hospitality and travel market. The sector is undergoing a significant shift, including adapting to the rapid digital transformation and the rise of experiential travel. Visitors to the Middle East are no longer content with generic tourist experiences; they are increasingly seeking deeper, more meaningful interactions that reflect the richness and diversity of the region's history and traditions.”Key Takeaways from the Report:United Arab Emirates: The UAE was one of the first destinations to fully recover its travel and tourism activities and is primed and ready to capitalise on the growing demand for travel and tourism, maintaining its leading position as the largest travel market in the Middle East. Overall, the travel market in the UAE witnessed significant growth in 2022, a 101% year-on-year increase from 2021, and is forecasted to grow by a further 10% in 2023. This growth is largely supported by the national government, which has invested significant funds and launched several initiatives such as the UAE Tourism Strategy, which aims to attract investments worth AED 100 billion and host 40 million hotel guests by 2031. The UAE airline sector is also one of the most developed in the world, with Emirates, Etihad Airways and FlyDubai being among the top 50 airlines in the world. Furthermore, the UAE’s hospitality sector is also rapidly expanding and is expected to witness the number of hotel rooms reaching over 200,000 keys by 2030, driven by the increasing number of tourists visiting the UAE and the growing demand for luxury hotels.Saudi Arabia: KSA is the fastest-growing travel market in the region, with a 107% increase in 2022 gross bookings compared to 2021 figures and is forecasted to grow by a whopping 65% by 2026. The Saudi government’s alignment with the private sector to develop mega projects such as the Red Sea Project and NEOM is expected to attract millions of tourists to Saudi Arabia in the coming years. The country recently revealed its plans to invest $800 billion in its tourism sector over the next 10 years, as part of its Vision 2030. Additionally, the government has also invested in improving critical infrastructure, such as airports, roads and hotels in order to realise this vision. Saudi Arabia has also eased visa requirements, which has significantly impacted the number of leisure tourists coming into the country.Qatar: Qatar’s tourism sector witnessed a dramatic recovery in 2022, driven by the FIFA World Cup event, the continued expansion of Qatar's infrastructure, and the increasing popularity of the country as a leisure destination. The Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) is investing heavily in the country's tourism sector, with plans to develop new hotels, attractions and cultural experiences, and has forecasted to welcome six to seven million visitors annually by 2030. Qatar Airways stands as a testament to this vision and has worked to continually expand its global footprint to support the country’s tourism sector.Egypt: While Egypt's tourism levels are still below pre-pandemic levels, the country has witnessed significant improvement since 2020. This recovery is driven by a number of factors, including the depreciation of the Egyptian pound, and the government's efforts to promote the country as a safe and attractive tourist destination. Domestic tourism has been on the rise in Egypt in recent years, as Egyptians become more interested in exploring their own country. Additionally, Egypt’s wide variety of natural attractions has also made it well-suited for adventure tourism, which is another growing trend in the region.Digital Maturity and Transformation: 2022 was a remarkable year for online travel bookings in the Middle East, as the region witnessed a staggering 103% increase in online booking values compared to 2021. This growth has been largely driven by the increase in tech-savvy travellers, the increased adoption of customer-facing tech solutions such as AI chatbots, mobile apps, and loyalty programs, and the integration of more advanced online back-end systems, such as booking engines and distribution channels, by travel suppliers, particularly hotels. With digital maturity and transformation on the rise in the Middle East and online penetration continuing its ascent, the online booking market is experiencing rapid expansion. Online bookings are anticipated to account for 50% of the market's bookings in the UAE and KSA by 2026. In this fast-paced and highly competitive market, where guest experiences and operational efficiency are paramount, it is crucial for players to continually maintain, optimize and adapt their technology stack.

Metaverse could reach up to $900bln by 2030 but will take time to scale

Despite recent headlines that “metaverse-hype” is dying down, new research released recently by Bain & Company shows the metaverse could reach up to $900 billion dollars by 2030 though it may remain in the seed stage for at least another five to 10 years. Bain’s report, Taking the Hyperbole Out of the Metaverse, concludes that the metaverse poses real and growing economic opportunities for businesses. Companies that engage in the metaverse’s early stages of development, known as the “seed stage,” over the next five to 10 years, are more likely to become the market winners. “As the metaverse quickly evolves, we’ve already seen these types of technologies take hold within different industries,” said Chris Johnson, a partner in Bain’s Technology practice. “A good example of this is immersive gaming platforms, which are already boasting hundreds of millions of monthly active users. And while it’s not immediately clear how the metaverse landscape will shift, our research shows there are five competitive battlegrounds that executives should be considering if they wish to get ahead and eventually scale. This is an ongoing journey toward more immersive and collaborative experiences, enabled by rapid improvements in the underlying technology.” The metaverse is – and will be -- pluralAs consumer and enterprise applications become increasingly immersive and collaborative, Bain’s report finds it’s unlikely that the metaverse will emerge as one singular platform. Instead, platforms with large user bases today may take steps to become increasingly immersive and engaging, while smaller, metaverse-like environments will try to attract bigger user bases. These virtual worlds are likely to remain independent silos as private companies seek to recoup their investments by leveraging the value of the underlying data sets. “Today, a mix of metaverse strategies exist, from companies with a vertically integrated approach that spans multiple segments of the metaverse technology stack to those with a horizontal strategy that focuses on a single layer of the stack,” said Moncef Maghrebi, Partner at Bain & Company Middle East. “It remains to be seen which will prove to be most effective as the market develops and the shape of the ecosystem (vertical vs. horizontal) is likely to evolve over time.”  Industries that have since exhibited the use of metaverse-type technologies include but are not limited to: entertainment, manufacturing, healthcare, education and employee training. Five key competitive battlegroundsFive key competitive battlegrounds that executives should consider if they want to gain market share in the metaverse according to Bain include:Virtual experiences (forecast by Bain to be about 65% of metaverse projected market size in 2030). Although gaming is currently the leading consumer metaverse application, immersive fitness and entertainment could also be compelling in the medium term. On the enterprise side, innovative use cases are emerging, primarily in collaboration and productivity, but also in digital marketing, employee training, education and healthcare.Content-creation tools (about 5% of metaverse market size in 2030). There’s a growing field of software tools that provide the building blocks, editing platforms and interfaces for creating metaverse worlds and experiences. These features make it easy for users to generate content.App stores and operating systems (about 10% of metaverse market size in 2030). The app store role will be crucial during the metaverse’s seed stage, providing users with curated, high-quality experiences to keep them engaged with the platform and headset they use to access the metaverse.Devices (about 10% of metaverse market size in 2030). Significant technological barriers must be overcome before the arrival of comfortable, stand-alone devices that allow for truly immersive experiences. To achieve mass adoption, metaverse content will need to work across all types of devices- including, for the foreseeable future, personal computers, gaming consoles and smartphones.Computing and infrastructure (about 10% of metaverse market size in 2030). Hardware companies will face pressure to develop higher-performing chips, servers and networking technologies to render high-quality graphics and reduce latency.

Deliveroo reveals new brand identity

Deliveroo has revealed its revamped brand identity since 2016. Crafted by Deliveroo Creative, its internal creative agency, the refresh is aimed at establishing greater differentiation and creative consistency across its 10 local markets.Deliveroo Creative dedicated eight months to this project, employing customer research to develop the refreshed and "playful" brand identity, which resulted in the creation of 400 assets. They pinpointed the visual elements that are most recognizable to consumers, which include the teal colour, the Roo head-shaped logo, and the Deliveroo wordmark.The Roo Head served as the primary inspiration for the entire brand identity, building upon DesignStudio's 2016 rebrand. Notably, the typography features a six-degree angle, matching the Roo head's nose. Additionally, Deliveroo has introduced the 'Rooute,' inspired by the teal journey line of riders, which appears when a customer places an order and allows tracking of the rider on the app. This 'Rooute' design incorporates elements of the Roo head's angles and twists.The overarching objective of Deliveroo Creative was to create a more unified customer experience, spanning from advertising to the Deliveroo app, while considering how the brand's new positioning influenced the creative process.Emily Somers, global director of brand and creative at Deliveroo, stated: “Our in-house talent, combined with knowledge of the brand, meant the team were perfectly placed to develop a brand identity – flexible to the needs of the entire global organisation – including our external agency partners.”Paul Hewitt, global head of creative at Deliveroo, said: “This is the teal deal. For the first time since 2016, we have a consistent visual foundation for our creative campaigns. Our new work shows how much life is left in our most distinctive brand asset. Looking afresh and discovering new elements inspired by the Roo head has been a total joy to direct. Proof that sometimes the answer is staring you right in the face – literally."

Lhamim Marketing and Media unveils fresh corporate identity

Lhamim Marketing and Media, a Saudi-based agency, has introduced a fresh corporate identity that showcases an innovative initiative centered on further expanding and innovating in the field of media and communication.The agency emphasized that this transformation was not a mere change for change's sake but a vital step to foster growth and adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of modern marketing in the industry.The new identity incorporates an upward-pointing arrow as its symbol, representing the pursuit of growth, positioned above its name to signify the continuous flow of new creative ideas and inspiration propelling it towards establishing a new frontier for marketing campaigns and contemporary communication tools.The logo is adorned with the color purple, symbolizing boundless passion, while the orange color conveys radiance and vibrancy. The inclusion of black immortalizes the brand's journey, symbolizing creativity and beauty.Lhamim proudly declares that its steadfast values encompass growth, respect, value, clarity, creativity, and control, ingrained through a natural growth strategy mirroring the simultaneous upward and downward growth of a plant. This mirrors effective communication with clients and the realization of visible goals, referred to as "upward growth," as well as the fortification of underlying objectives, known as "downward growth."Driven by a sense of national duty and embodied in the new brand identity, Lhamim has introduced its novel offering, the Winner Ad Platform. This comprehensive Saudi platform, led by marketing experts, enables the rapid launch of marketing campaigns, garnering high customer ratings and achieving success by keeping abreast of the latest media and communication tools.Saleh Aleidan, the CEO of Lhamim Marketing and Media, expressed his pride in the launch of the new identity, symbolizing progress and innovation. He anticipates a bright and innovative path for the brand.He also revealed the inauguration of the Lhamim Space initiative, aimed at advancing the sector and supporting the vision by hosting face-to-face meetings with a select group of distinguished marketing experts. These experts will share their real-world experiences in large-scale campaigns and creativity with practitioners, specialists, and marketing students.

GoDaddy's Selina Bieber takes center stage in empowering panel discussion at TS

Cairo: GoDaddy, the company that helps entrepreneurs thrive, announces the participation of Selina Bieber, Vice President of International Markets at GoDaddy, in this year's highly anticipated Techne Summit 2023. Selina contributed to a panel discussion titled "Shattering Ceilings, Igniting Success: Women Entrepreneurs Changing the Game."As a panelist at the summit, Selina Bieber delved into the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and their unique journeys in overcoming barriers to achieve success. The panelists shared experiences, strategies, and insightful perspectives, helping to inspire female entrepreneurs working to break down barriers and succeed in the small business world.During this discussion, Bieber underscored GoDaddy's commitment to gender equality, emphasizing that GoDaddy provides tech solutions and practices tailored for all entrepreneurs. She also mentioned that GoDaddy's WAM + Studio are valuable resources for those who are re-entering the workforce or embarking on side-hustles after a break. These initiatives enable entrepreneurs to explore and leverage the digital landscape with ease and affordability. They remove the barriers traditionally associated with entering the online business arena, making it accessible to a broad spectrum of ambitious individuals, regardless of their gender or prior experience.Bieber highlighted how women entrepreneurs can harness GoDaddy's resources, illustrating with successful examples such as collaborative initiatives with organizations like GIZ and Crunchmoms. These partnerships provide valuable opportunities for entrepreneurs to engage with the community, gain insights through annual surveys, and learn from the stories of GoDaddy's customers. These resources provide women with a supportive foundation to begin their entrepreneurial journey, offering guidance on self-branding, partnership building, and sharing customer success stories, all of which contribute to their journey towards success.Selina also touched on recent tech trends for women founders, highlighting the integration of AI in corporate level and its potential to level the playing field for women balancing multiple responsibilities. Notably, she emphasized the significance of GoDaddy’s .AI Domain extension, a gateway to a wealth of opportunities for individuals, developers, startups, and research institutions. ‘.AI domains’ bring numerous advantages to small businesses across various sectors. By associating with AI, these domains become powerful branding tools, projecting innovation and technological expertise to customers and stakeholders alike.In addition to joining the panel discussion, Bieber also conducted an interactive workshop titled "Disruptive Thinking: Redefining Business Norms in the Online World," where she shared GoDaddy's transformation journey from a web hosting provider to a comprehensive technology provider offering essential tools for small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive in the digital landscape.Selina went on to say that she appreciated being included in Techne Summit 2023, sharing how digitalization can help to jumpstart women entrepreneurs. “Participating in this event that fosters innovation, diversity and empowerment is line with GoDaddy’s commitment to empowering entrepreneurs, by providing them with the tools and knowledge they need to thrive in the digital age.”Techne Summit 2023, held in Alexandria, Egypt, from 7 - 10 October 2023, brought together startups, technology enthusiasts, investors, mentors, and public officials from all over the Mediterranean. This premier event is celebrated for its commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship, providing an exceptional platform for networking, learning, and collaboration.

Dubai AI, Web3 Campus to equip businesses in Dubai with AI capability

Dubai: The Dubai AI and Web3 Campus has launched an Artificial Intelligence Transformation Programme (“The Programme”), a highly customisable sector agnostic corporate accelerator, to help future-proof businesses in the region by enhancing their Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities. The initiative will further help elevate Dubai’s abilities to compete at a global scale to harness talent, innovation, and grow its economy.Designed for businesses of all sizes, the programme provides C-level coaching on industry trends to enable organisations to stay ahead of competitors by adopting the latest in AI and technology innovation. The initiative will also facilitate partnerships with start-ups and industry giants to fast-track proof-of-concept (POC) creation and internal adoption.Participants will benefit from Dubai International Financial Centre’s strong innovation ecosystem and Dubai’s broader technological landscape to deliver actionable and timely solutions. The programme participants will also gain access to a state-of-the-art corporate innovation lab, high quality hardware and software, facilities enabling concept creation and prototype testing, in collaboration with tech industry experts.The programme further fosters start-up success by facilitating adoption of their technologies through strategic ecosystem partnerships and access to specialised licensing and regulatory solutions. The Dubai AI and Web3 Campus will also assist in corporate deal flow and partnerships to enable collaboration between leading corporates and upcoming start-ups to cultivate a culture of technological advancement.Mohammad Alblooshi, CEO of DIFC Innovation Hub, said, “We are thrilled to announce the launch of the Artificial Intelligence Transformation Programme, a pioneering initiative by the Dubai AI & Web3 Campus. We look forward to working with corporates in the region to streamline and scale their businesses through adoption of artificial intelligence across different verticals. Our expertise will allow us to enable business growth across sectors and attract forward thinking entrepreneurs and executives to the region. We remain committed to attracting and retaining top talent that will solidify Dubai’s position as the business destination of choice for tech professionals.”The launch of the Artificial Intelligence Transformation Programme follows the announcement of the Dubai AI and Web3 Campus, which boasts state-of-the-art physical and digital infrastructure within the new DIFC Innovation One premises, including research and development facilities and collaborative workspaces, which is helping to attract, build and scale firms in the region. The Campus has already begun issuing AI and Web3 licences supporting activities ranging from Distributed Ledger Technology Services, specialised Artificial Intelligence Research and consultancies, IT infrastructure builders, Technology Research and Development, and Public Networking Services through DIFC.Applications are now open for the Artificial Intelligence Transformation Programme via this link.

Castrol unveils refreshed brand identity in Middle East

Dubai: Castrol, a global leader in lubricants, and part of the bp group, has unveiled its refreshed global brand identity in the Middle East.The brand refresh, including an updated look and feel, is aimed at better reflecting its unique positioning in the market and the opportunities it sees in meeting the changing needs of customers.The refreshed brand identity maintains Castrol’s iconic red, green, and white colours, which are strongly associated with the brand and is set to improve brand memorability digitally.The updated logo features a more modern, dynamic, and vibrant design, with a focus on Castrol’s core strengths and differentiators as it aims to broaden appeal with a more diverse customer base."Our refreshed brand identity represents an exciting chapter for our company, and it reflects our commitment to investing in the future and creating new growth opportunities," said Robert Gerritsen, General Manager, Castrol Lubricants, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt & Pakistan.The brand refresh includes a new sonic identity, crafted to enhance the refreshed visual look and feel, with music and sound design that elicits feelings of acceleration, forward-momentum, and dynamic movement. The new identity is a powerful future distinctive brand asset that will drive awareness and memorability.Castrol is exploring opportunities to provide solutions and services that will complement its core lubricants business. It has a range of advanced EV Fluids including EV Transmission Fluids, EV Thermal Fluids and EV Greases - Castrol ON.Castrol has plans to invest $60 million in a new electric vehicle (EV) battery testing centre and analytical laboratory in the UK. Castrol’s ON immersion cooling fluid for data centres has been approved by Submer for use across their portfolio of products.Jayakumar Natarajan, Marketing Director, Castrol Lubricants, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt & Pakistan, said: “Refreshing a globally recognised brand is not just about changing its appearance or messaging. It's about reinvigorating its essence, and relevance in today's world. Our refreshed brand is a strategic imperative that drives growth, differentiation, and long-term success.”

89% of UAE CXOs expect revenue growth

C-level executives (CXOs) in the UAE overwhelmingly anticipate revenue and profit growth for their companies in the next 1-2 years, a new study by Darwinbox has revealed. The "HR Evolution Perspectives 2023" report by the HR software leader provides an in-depth analysis of what companies and employees expect from HR today and how equipped HR departments are to handle it.The study found that 89% of UAE CXOs expect profitability to rise, with 89% anticipating revenue growth. Almost three-quarters (72%) expect this growth through M&A, while 82% anticipate growth through organic expansion. As sustainability kicks into top gear, financing of green initiatives is rising, with 67% of CXOs expecting a rise in ESG investments.Meanwhile, 80% of these CXOs believe their organization will increase headcount. The study indicates that along with the focus on increased productivity, CXOs are also looking to hire for critical capabilities and emerging skills.Chaitanya Peddi, Co-founder of Darwinbox, said: "Undeniably, the CXOs in the UAE have an extremely positive economic outlook, and this will convert into more hiring in the coming 12-24 months. Hence, there will be more emphasis on strengthening the HR functions. HR teams must navigate a period of heightened employee expectations, a rapidly shifting digital landscape, and stakeholder pressure toward inclusive workplaces. The report makes no attempt to downplay these challenges; instead, it calls upon HR professionals to seize the opportunity to transform their organizations, powered by the transformative role of technology."  Despite the opportunities, UAE businesses are challenged by a rapidly shifting digital landscape, remote and hybrid work models, and renewed demands for more inclusive and sustainable work practices. UAE CXOs identified the inability to align culture and low employee productivity as a significant risk, with 38% saying their organization could not attune its corporate culture to changing business environments. With the full force of digital transformation sweeping through the business world, 69% of CXOs in the UAE now recognize the imperative of adapting to new digital work paradigms. Alarmingly, 31% of them feel unprepared to effectively address this challenge, revealing a significant vulnerability. A further 31% said they cannot redefine work by effectively leveraging digital and connected teams.In response, organizations are ramping up investments in technology to improve HR's effectiveness. In the next 12 to 24 months, 64% of UAE organizations plan to adopt robotics and automation for HR. Additionally, 64% plan to invest in digitizing their HR Systems, while 53% plan end-to-end process redesign. As a seasoned expert who has successfully navigated the digital adoption roadmap with numerous enterprises in the region, Darwinbox is already solving for this digital adoption and finds a strong appetite for transformation in the Middle Eastern market.Chaitanya Peddi added: "Worldwide, and particularly in the UAE, organizations are increasingly prioritizing the Digital HR agenda to enhance productivity, agility, and overall employee experience. At Darwinbox, we firmly believe that while identifying and implementing technology to drive efficiencies is the initial phase, the true return on investment emerges when organizations continually embrace technology and use it to adapt to evolving circumstances. Therefore, we collaborate closely with our customer base, attentively listening to their needs and delivering innovative solutions that empower them to stay ahead of the curve."Darwinbox's cloud-based Human Capital Management platform caters to HR needs across the entire employee lifecycle with new-age employee experiences and disruptive AI-powered technology. Powering 850+ enterprises across 110 countries and trusted by 2.2 million employees across the globe, the company has clocked a 2.6x revenue growth and increased its headcount by 240% in UAE since its Series D Unicorn funding round in January 2022. The company has opened its regional office at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).The survey was carried out in collaboration with People Matters, the study gathered responses from over 1,200 HR practitioners and around 1,500 employees in Southeast Asia, India, and the Middle East. Online surveys took place between February and May of this year.

Memac Ogilvy promotes Ghassan Maraqa to MENA CEO

Memac Ogilvy, the leading award-winning integrated creative network, announces new leadership, marking the beginning of a new era focused on creative excellence, strategic innovation, and growth acceleration in the MENA region.David Fox, a seasoned Ogilvy veteran with a rich global track record, has completed his term as CEO, steering the agency through a period of growth and success. David’s illustrious career has seen him bring an extensive wealth of experience from WPP and Ogilvy to the region.In a transition marked by continuity and renewal, Memac Ogilvy announces a joint leadership team, appointing Ghassan Maraqa as MENA CEO and Jon Marchant as MENA Group President. Jon joins the agency after a six-year journey as MD FP7 McCann Dubai, Momentum and Craft MENA.Ghassan has been at the helm of Memac Ogilvy for two decades as its regional COO and CFO. His visionary leadership, ability to turn challenges into opportunities, and especially deep commitment to long standing client partnerships and talent makes him the ideal leader to drive the agency forward.Patou Nuytemans, EMEA CEO, who worked closely with Ghassan during her tenure leading the region, expressed her confidence in Ghassan, stating, "Having worked with Ghassan hand-in-hand for many years as my partner in leading Memac Ogilvy in the region, I've witnessed his passion for and commitment to our agency's values, talent, and clients. He has been instrumental to our success for such a long time, that I have no doubt that Memac Ogilvy will thrive in his trusted hands."Commenting on his appointment, Ghassan Maraqa said: "I wish to extend my sincere appreciation to our exceptional team and valued clients for their steadfast commitment and partnership. It’s such a privilege, together with Jon, to now lead an agency network that has always been a pillar of the industry in the region and bring our promise of borderless creativity to life for the leading brands across MENA.”Jon Marchant, as MENA Group President, will bring his incredible track record in impactful creative ideas, trusted client partnerships and agency growth, both internationally and in the region, to Memac Ogilvy, with a mission to drive excellence for clients.Commenting on Jon's addition to the agency's leadership team, Patou expanded on her thoughts, stating, "Jon's addition marks an exciting juncture in our journey of growth and innovation. His extensive experience speaks to his deep understanding of our industry. His passion for amazing ideas that drive impact and for nurturing talent is simply contagious. We welcome his fresh perspective and I’m sure together with Ghassan he will shape an exciting new future for Memac Ogilvy."Jon Marchant expressed his sentiments saying: "I'm deeply honored to join Memac Ogilvy during this pivotal time in a rapidly growing market. The Ogilvy brand is celebrated for its creativity and commitment to excellence. Together with Ghassan, I look forward to contributing to its journey amid dynamic economic and cultural transformation in the region."Ghassan and Jon will work with the MENA Exco and the regional leadership team in Memac Ogilvy’s 11 offices to drive Memac Ogilvy's promise of borderless creativity across Advertising, PR, Experience, and Health. As Memac Ogilvy embraces this new chapter, it reaffirms its commitment to innovation, talent development, and client excellence. With Ghassan and Jon at the helm, the agency is poised for even greater success as a leading creative force in the MENA region. Jon will be joining Ogilvy in early December this year.

Saudi minister Salman Al-Dosari unveils media training and digital projects

Saudi Minister of Media Salman Al-Dosari unveiled an array of cutting-edge media training and digital initiatives at the inaugural 'Media Partners' gathering, which took place at 'Via Riyadh' in the Saudi capital on Monday. The event showcased the introduction of several projects spanning diverse sectors, all geared towards bolstering the talents within the media industry.Over 200 specialists, experts, and government and private sector officials in the realm of communications and media from across the Kingdom converged at this meeting. Its primary objective was to fortify the collaboration between the ministry and its government and private sector partners within the media domain.In his address, Al-Dosari underscored that the event emanated from the ministry's fervent commitment to nurturing relationships with various stakeholders in both the government and private sectors. This was seen as a pivotal step in realizing the objectives outlined in Saudi Vision 2030, with a central focus on enhancing global competitiveness through the development of human capital. This entailed investing in national talents, fostering innovation, entrepreneurship, skill refinement, and capacity-building to pave the way for a thriving economy driven by highly proficient domestic resources.During this event, the ministry formally introduced several groundbreaking media initiatives. First in line was the 'Communication Academy,' designed to enhance the advertising sector in the Kingdom and provide aspiring individuals with opportunities to hone their digital advertising skills.Following suit was the 'Tawasul+,' an integral component of the 'Ignite Initiative' under the Saudi digital content program, which aspires to offer training prospects in the realm of digital content creation. The third project, 'Media Leadership Training,' was aimed at preparing a new breed of media leaders, empowering them to assume leadership roles within local and regional media institutions, and honing their leadership skills and management techniques.The event marked the inception of the 'Media Zone' project, intended to establish a collaborative workspace for practitioners in various media disciplines, thereby facilitating the dissemination of media knowledge and skills through contemporary methods. Last but not least, the 'Speakers+' initiative was unveiled to nurture and empower leaders within government agencies and the private sector by imparting media expertise through a series of training programs.On the sidelines of the 'Media Partners' gathering, an exhibition showcased some notable media projects, including the 'Saudi Treasures' initiative, which featured its most noteworthy artistic creations.A significant memorandum of cooperation was signed during the event between the Government Communication Center at the Ministry of Media and the Human Resources Development Fund (HADAF). This memorandum was geared towards the advancement of talent in the media industry, involving training, qualification, and the development of local professionals to incentivize their involvement in the digital content creation sector. Furthermore, it sought to consolidate and localize various professions within the media sector, encompassing digital advertising, digital gaming, digital audio, and video.The agreement also paved the way for leveraging HADAF's programs and products, including the Income Support Program, HADAF Leadership Program, National E-Training Platform (Doroob), Vocational Professional Certificates Support Program, On-the-job Training Program (Tamheer), HADAF Training Support Program, and the Skills Program.

Huawei Li Peng: Powering a positive 5G business cycle and embracing 5.5G (5G-A)

Huawei kicked off the 14th Global Mobile Broadband Forum in Dubai, UAE. Li Peng, Huawei's Corporate Senior Vice President and President of the company's Carrier BG, delivered a keynote at the event. In his speech, Li called on global carriers and industry partners to rise to the occasion, address increasing demands on networks, and make the most of the future trends."Let's start today, build tomorrow's networks for future services, and unleash 5G's infinite potential for continuous success," he said.In his speech on powering a positive 5G business cycle and embracing 5.5G (5G-A), Li stated, "We are already on the right path towards 5G business success, and 5G-Advanced is the natural next step in 5G's evolution."He emphasized that when we look back at history, every major economic transformation came from innovation in general purpose technologies. "Now we're in the digital age, where the Internet is powering the digital economy," said Li in his speech."5G is a critical part of new economic transformation," continued Li. "And it's enabling new innovation in general purpose technologies. For digital industries, 5G is developing fast, opening up new markets and opportunities."According to Li, future mobile networks need to have six key features: 10 Gbps downlink, 1 Gbps uplink, deterministic networking, support for a hundred-billion IoT connections, integrated sensing and communication, and native AI capabilities. To make this happen, carriers and industry players not only need to continuously enhance their capabilities in three core usage scenarios – enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine-type communications (mMTC), and ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC) – but also develop three new capabilities, including Uplink Centric Broadband Communication (UCBC) and Real-Time Broadband Communication (RTBC).Speaking on 5G-Advanced, the next evolutionary step in 5G technology, Li also noted that the industry needs to work together to promote the development of device and application ecosystems, verify use case scenarios, and accelerate the large-scale commercialization of FWA Square, Passive IoT, and RedCap.These efforts are crucial to make the most of the five new trends that will shape an intelligent digital future.Glasses-Free 3DThe glasses-free 3D industry ecosystem is maturing fast. Breakthroughs in technologies including cloud rendering and real-time 3D virtual humans will take immersive experience to new heights. Moving forward, more and more devices like mobile phones and TVs will support glasses-free 3D, which will drive data traffic up by a factor of ten relative to 2D video.Self-Guided VehiclesBy 2025, there will be more than 500 million smart vehicles on the road. With high-bandwidth and low-latency networks, smart vehicles will be able to share information with people, vehicles, roads, and the cloud in real time. In assisted-driving scenarios, smart vehicles will consume more than 300 gigabytes of data every month for cloud-based model training and weekly algorithm updates. In self-driving scenarios, data consumption will rise by a factor of 100.Next-Gen ManufacturingWith breakthroughs in capabilities like network slicing and edge computing, the number of 5G private networks for enterprise use has increased a hundredfold, and the market size has grown to over US$10 billion. However, as production lines become more flexible, increasingly reliant on wireless networks, and more core production systems are deployed on the cloud, higher requirements are posed on 5G networks.Huawei worked with a carrier and industry partners to build the industry's first 5G-Advanced flexible trial production line. For this production line, 5G-Advanced supports high-concurrency and highly deterministic network connections, which helps more efficiently connect computing power between cloud and network edge.Generalized Cellular IoTThere are more than three billion mobile IoT connections around the world, and 5G now connects more things than people. In the near future, 5G will support a broader range of IoT technologies like medium-speed RedCap and Passive IoT. This will provide more options for different IoT scenarios, allowing for more efficient flow of data, information, and computing power. For example, in the home appliance manufacturing sector, Passive IoT can help provide visibility along the entire distribution and production chain, and has helped increase overall productivity by 30% in verification trials.Guaranteed Intelligent Computing EverywhereWith the rise of new developments in AI, such as foundation models, demand for AI computing power will see explosive growth. By 2025, this demand is expected to be 100 times greater than current levels. To unleash the full potential of AI computing power, more advanced network capabilities are key. Networks will need to have larger bandwidth and lower latency to power truly intelligent connectivity. In addition, as traffic models begin to change, future networks will need to be more autonomous and intelligent to deliver a reliable experience.

Beyon Money launches new digital payment solution in Bahrain

Beyon Money, part of the Beyon Group, has launched Beyon Money Checkout, an innovative online payment acceptance solution for corporates and businesses in Bahrain. Delivered in partnership with Ottu, a leading financial technology company, the solution is reshaping the landscape of merchant services in Bahrain and other Middle Eastern regions.This collaboration with Ottu will support the expansion of Beyon Money’s services by empowering merchants in Bahrain to seamlessly integrate Beyon Money Checkout for their e-commerce channels. As part of their commitment to merchant solutions, Ottu will be offering Beyon Money’s payment solutions across its extensive merchant network in Bahrain and other regional markets.Beyon Money Check Out, the new online payment acceptance solution reduces the number of steps for processing payments when compared to traditional solutions, leading to cost savings for merchants. Furthermore, the solution benefits Beyon Money users through delivering a seamless payment experience, with transactions completed instantly by simply using their phone number registered with Beyon Money, instead of entering their payment card details.Beyon Money CEO Roberto Mancone commented, ”Beyon Money Checkout leverages its digital wallet, enabling merchants to receive instant payments from Beyon Money customers, at lower costs compared to traditional card payment methods. Together with Ottu, we will empower merchants while also elevating the online payment experience for Beyon Money customers.”Speaking about this transformative partnership, Ottu CEO Talal AlAwadhi said, "This partnership is a testament to our shared vision of simplifying transactions in Bahrain, the UAE, and the GCC. Ottu will spearhead the expansion of Beyon Money’s new payment service, Beyon Money Checkout, offering an advanced online payment solution that will redefine the way we conduct financial transactions."

Raff Publishing to release 92 Disney titles in MENA

Raff Publishing has announced a license agreement with Disney to release 92 Disney stories to the MENA region. The countries include countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. This marks a significant milestone as Raff Publishing ventures into the dynamic realm of children's publishing.Through this license agreement and titles that Raff Publishing will publish, Raff Publishing aims to inspire children's creativity and curiosity, offering families a wonderful opportunity to come together through captivating narratives. By nurturing a lifelong passion for reading and learning in the MENA region, starting from early childhood, this license agreement represents an important step forward in expanding the literary landscape for young readers in the region.These titles include 48 stories translated into Arabic and 44 in English. Among the featured franchises are widely popular stories from Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars.This license agreement brings the magic of Disney to readers across the MENA region, creating connections with readers of all ages, promoting the joy of reading, and encouraging families to bond over stories that ignite the imagination.Remarkably, this collaboration addresses a significant gap in the Arabic literature market, as a tiny proportion of the books published annually are translated into Arabic.With a particular focus on offering Arabic-language books tailored for children and young readers, this collaboration is poised to enhance access to literature in their native language. Early literacy in a child’s native language lays the crucial foundation for academic success in later stages of education, making this collaboration all the more significant for the region.Paula Scott, General Manager of Raff Publishing, said: “Raff Publishing is focused on enhancing the availability of Arabic-language children’s books catered to the changing needs of our youngest reading audience. In addition to delivering top-tier Arabic-language literary material, this collaboration with Disney serves as a significant component of SRMG's forward-looking strategy for growth and expansion. We remain committed to fostering literature and instilling a passion for reading in the MENA region.”As part of SRMG's mission of making Arabic-language content more accessible in the MENA region, Raff Publishing is part of a global alliance that broadens SRMG's reach and offers a wider range of media content to a dynamic audience. Disney is the latest addition to SRMG's list of esteemed partners, which includes Warner Bros. Discovery, Bloomberg, The Independent, Billboard, and Shueisha.Raff Publishing has collaborated wiht this year's Riyadh International Book Fair, held from September 28 to October 7 at King Saud University, and organized by the Saudi Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission.

ME emerges as major force in esports to help the industry to untap potential

The gaming industry is experiencing massive growth, with an estimated 3 billion gamers worldwide. However, there is still significant untapped potential, with only 500 million identified as esports fans. BCG's latest gaming report titled ‘Let the Game Begin: How Esports is Shaping the Future of Live Entertainment', explores the emerging power of esports and its potential in the Middle East.Esports, while drawing parallels with traditional sports, is centered around competitive video gaming. Unlike traditional sports, esports has a unique ecosystem that includes game publishers and licensing partners. Each game has its own set of rules and tournament structures. Esports has emerged as a dominant form of entertainment, captivating audiences both online—with events racking up over 100 million hours watched—and in-person, as evidenced by the rapid sell-out of tickets for major live tournaments. The industry has witnessed a rise in both the number and caliber of tournaments, with notable increases in prize pools over the years. As of now, the esports audience stands at 500 million, a fraction of the global gamer population, indicating the potential for further growth in the sector.The report highlights the Middle East as an emerging force in the world of esports, offering significant potential for the industry. The region boasts a large population of gamers and a track record of recent investment, making it a promising destination for the global esports ecosystem. Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of the esports industry in the Middle East, captivating audiences with the creation of the largest independent esports event, Gamers8. With 12 esports competitions hosted during 2023 with an unprecedented $45 million prize pool, Saudi Arabia is demonstrating its commitment to esports and support for esports clubs and athletes.With gaming hubs and prestigious global events, the UAE has also become a hub for esports. Abu Dhabi Gaming serves as the home for the Nigma Galaxy esports club and has hosted top-tier events like the BLAST Premier World Final for CS:GO. Dubai has cemented its status as a premier esports destination by hosting the electrifying PUBG Global Championship in 2022. Additionally, the region has its own captivating local events, such as the Dubai Esports Festival, the Games for Change summit in Abu Dhabi, and an anime and gaming festival in Al Ain.Alexander Schudey Managing Director and Partner at BCG said: "The Middle East's emergence as a leader in esports is a testament to the region's dedication and investment in the gaming industry. With its large population of gamers and a thriving esports ecosystem, the Middle East is set to shape the future of live entertainment. The ambitious initiatives undertaken by countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE demonstrate their commitment to positioning the Middle East as a global hub for esports. These forward-thinking moves will not only attract global audiences but also pave the way for local talent to flourish in the world of competitive gaming."The Middle East's involvement in esports is noteworthy. However, the esports industry itself is multifaceted with various stakeholders, especially game publishers. This intricate landscape demands a deep understanding of its dynamics.The Complex Ecosystem of Esports and the Middle East's Holistic Engagement:The esports industry is characterized by its intricate ecosystem, comprising various stakeholders, each playing a pivotal role in shaping its future. For the Middle East to solidify its position in this landscape, a holistic engagement with all these stakeholders is imperative.Stakeholder Contributions in the Esports Industry:Esports Clubs: Globally, esports clubs are undergoing rapid professionalization, with top-tier teams emerging across a variety of games. Many clubs, including several in the Middle East, are diversifying their business models, evolving into media and entertainment entities.National Governments: Some governments worldwide recognize the potential of esports. The Middle East, particularly KSA, is actively embracing this trend, showcasing their commitment to the esports industry.Multi-national Bodies: Organizations like the IOC are considering the inclusion of esports in their agendas, further validating its significance. Their endorsement can elevate the status of esports on a global scale.Esports Federations: These federations are crucial for talent development, implementing programs to identify and nurture potential esports athletes. In the Middle East, such initiatives ensure a sustainable career trajectory for individuals in esports.Brands: Brands are tapping into the esports fervor, using it as a channel for product promotion. Their involvement not only provides financial backing but also enhances the overall viewer experience through sponsorships and partnerships.Media Companies: Media entities are leveraging the esports trend to diversify their content. For instance, Time Warner/Telefonica's Movistar esports aims to dominate Spanish-speaking esports content. Such endeavors amplify the reach of esports, making it accessible to a broader audience.The scale of esports continues to expand, it's attracting attention from diverse stakeholders. Their collective efforts, especially in the context of the Middle East, are instrumental in driving the industry forward, offering unique content and marketing opportunities.As the esports industry continues to mature, it faces challenges in finding a sustainable business model. Concerns include alignment and investment, as well as the lack of unified rules supporting esports athletes. However, the forward-thinking initiatives undertaken by countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE demonstrate their commitment to support global stakeholders in solving these challenges and bring sustainability to the whole esports ecosystem, and if they succeed, it will position the Middle East as a global hub for esports.

UAE, Saudi leaders say delivering seamless digital employee experience important

The Riverbed Global DEX Survey commissioned by Riverbed and conducted by Sapio Research, uncovered that Millennial and Gen Z employees have the highest technology and digital experience expectations in the workplace, with 64% of decision-makers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia saying younger generation employees are the most demanding of IT’s time, and nearly all (97%) of respondents believing they will need to provide more advanced digital experiences to meet their needs.Seventy-two percent of regional leaders surveyed believe that if an organisation fails to deliver the seamless digital experiences that the younger generation employees now demand, they would consider leaving the company and over half (53%) say if digital experience expectations aren’t met, it would impact the company’s reputation and the business overall. Interestingly, half of leaders in the UAE and Saudi Arabia say a seamless digital experience is most likely to keep their workforce engaged, surpassing traditional office perks such as free coffee and snacks (14%).It’s no surprise then that 98% of leaders in the UAE and Saudi Arabia say delivering a seamless DEX is important, (64% say it’s critically important) to remaining competitive. And with heightened digital expectations, and talent, productivity, and competitiveness at risk, almost all respondents (97%) say investing in DEX is among their top priorities for the next five years.“The Middle East has a particularly large youth demographic. With Millennial and Gen Z individuals making up significant portions of the workforce, ensuring digital systems meet their expectations is becoming key to attracting and retaining top talent,” said Mena Migally, Regional Vice President, Emerging EMEA, at Riverbed. “At GITEX this year, our team will be present in full strength as we seek to engage with attendees and demonstrate how they can overcome growing IT complexity, and take proactive steps to enhance digital employee experiences.”Obstacles to Delivering a Seamless DEXAt a time when the digital experience is business critical, 94% of UAE and Saudi leaders cited at least one major obstacle or gap to delivering a seamless DEX. Respondents identified budget constraints (36%), IT talent/skills shortages (32%), lack of sufficient observability tools (31%), lack of appropriate SaaS or cloud services (31%), and too much data (26%), and too many monitoring tools (26%) as the top obstacles hindering their ability to deliver on the digital employee experience.Accelerating the Digital Experience: Unified Observability a Must-Have for DEXIn the last few years, the push to hybrid work environments has resulted in IT leaders taking a bigger role in the C-suite, and leaders say technologies, such as AI and unified observability, are playing an important role in delivering on the digital experience. Riverbed’s focus on leveraging GITEX to highlight Unified Observability as a solution to address the IT infrastructure complexity organisations face is based on the fact that almost all (97%) of regional respondents believe more investment into unified observability platforms would allow for a better employee and customer digital experience.Additionally, UAE and Saudi leaders believe that these technologies – AI (54%), Cloud (50%), Digital Experience Management solutions (43%), Application/Network Acceleration technology (36%), and Automation (34%) – are crucial for organizations looking to remain competitive in today’s marketplace.“At GITEX last year, we saw an overwhelmingly positive reception to our newly unveiled Alluvio Unified Observability portfolio. Now, a year later, we are excited to demonstrate the powerful new capabilities we have added to this industry leading platform,” said Migally. “Moreover, through our presence on the stands of our regional distributors – Crestan, Mindware, and StarLink – we are highlighting our deep commitment to the region, which augments the value proposition of our solution portfolio.”

Omantel Innovation Labs presents promising Omani startups at Cohort 2 Demo Day

 Omantel Innovation Labs welcomed a distinguished gathering of investors and entities from Sultanate of Oman and the region to its headquarters, for an inspiring showcase of entrepreneurial talent at the Cohort 2 Demo Day. This event featured nine dynamic startups hailing from various programs, including the Omantel Accelerator, CBO Fintech Accelerator powered by Omantel, and the in-house program "Fikra" designed exclusively for Omantel employees.The Demo Day was a testament to Omantel Innovation Labs' commitment to nurturing innovation, fostering connections, and accelerating the growth of promising startups. It provided a unique platform for these emerging companies to present their cutting-edge products, services, and solutions to an audience eager to embrace innovation and explore collaboration opportunities.The nine startups participating in the Demo Day represented a diverse range of industries and solutions, reflecting the vibrant landscape of innovation in Oman. Attendees had the privilege of witnessing the following startups in action:1. "iON" - A social commerce platform empowering sellers to post products and services on social media, leading to higher conversion rates.2. "Serb" - A global leader in drone management solutions, offering a cutting-edge UTM platform that enhances the safety and efficiency of drone operations.3. "Touchpoynts" - A provider of smart retail technology solutions that elevate customer experience and foster customer loyalty.4. "Sayyad" - A comprehensive online marketplace dedicated to the fishing industry, connecting sellers and buyers across Oman.5. "ZabonEx" - An ML-powered dynamic distribution and sales prediction platform assisting FMCG manufacturers and retailers in reducing food waste and optimizing stock management.Moreover, startups from the CBO Fintech Accelerator powered by Omantel also took the stage, presenting their innovative solutions:6. "Hal Capital" - A Sharia-compliant embedded fintech platform offering alternative financing solutions to MSMEs and individuals.7. "TasHeel" - Introducing "Travel Now, Pay Later" services in Oman, making travel more affordable for individuals and businesses alike.8. "Wadiaa" - An Omani fintech company engaged in crowd-investing activities, focusing on equity crowdfunding for startups and loan-based financing for SMEs.9. "Zumr" - Simplifying traditional saving circles (Jameeayt) through a convenient and accessible online platform.These startups presented innovative solutions poised to make a significant impact in their respective fields, showcasing the immense talent and potential within Oman's entrepreneurial ecosystem.The event featured engaging presentations, lively discussions, and networking opportunities, allowing startups to connect with investors, partners, and mentors who can play a pivotal role in their growth journey. The Cohort 2 Demo Day marks a significant milestone in Omantel Innovation Labs' mission to support and elevate startups, providing them with the resources and exposure needed to thrive in today's competitive business landscape.Speaking about the event, HH Ghada Al Said, Senior Manager at Omantel Innovation Labs, said, "We are thrilled with the success of the Cohort 2 Demo Day and the tremendous progress we’ve seen in our startups. Omantel Innovation Labs remains committed to nurturing innovation and fostering collaboration between startups, investors, and partners to drive the growth of Oman's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Through our experiences, we are continually enhancing how Omantel works with startups, and we are discovering, more and more, how we can truly take on the role of a catalyst for incredible founders, with amazing solutions, to help them realize their potential faster.”

British Esports Signs Historic Partnership Agreement with SEF

British Esports, the national body for esports in the United Kingdom, today announces a historic partnership with the Saudi Esports Federation, the regulating body in charge of nurturing elite gaming athletes and developing the gaming community and industry in Saudi Arabia, marking a significant step towards advancing the global esports industry.This landmark collaboration is being signed at the same time as the UK Department for Business and Trade takes its first Esports Trade Mission to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the aim of fostering connections and exploring opportunities in the Saudi Arabian esports landscape.Both esports federations have formally committed to working together to elevate esports to new heights under the agreement. The partnership commenced alongside an exclusive reception in Riyadh, hosted by the UK Ambassador Neil Crompton with HRH Prince Faisal Bin Bandar bin Sultan, Chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation and Chester King, CEO, British Esports attending.The partnership’s key initiatives will encompass a wide range of projects, events and activations designed to cultivate esports talent, through immersive cultural exchange programmes, internships, mentorship, bootcamps, esports training programmes, educational initiatives and collaborative research projects.Part of the agreement, will see British Esports and Saudi Esports host home and away matches with some of the top UK and Saudi esports athletes, competing at the National Esports Performance Campus in Sunderland and at Gamers8 later next year in 2024. This partnership underscores the commitment of both federations to fostering international cooperation and growth within the esports industry and heralds an exciting era of opportunity, investment and development.HRH Prince Faisal Bin Bandar bin Sultan, Chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation, said: “Saudi Esports Federation is constantly evolving and creating new pathways for players to gain new experience, and our cooperation with the British Esports Federation will play a key role in fostering talents and unite the esports community. By joining forces, I’m sure that we can create a platform that empowers players, cultivates innovation, and paves the way for a thriving esports industry in both nations and beyond.”As the esports landscape continues to evolve, British Esports and the Saudi Esports Federation are primed to make a significant impact on its trajectory, further solidifying the UK’s position as one of the world’s leading esports nations.“We are excited about this collaboration, which is poised to usher in a new era for esports in the UK,” commented Chester King, CEO British Esports. “As two of the world’s leading esports federations, our joint efforts will undoubtedly shape the future of the industry, providing incredible opportunities for esports athletes, professionals and enthusiasts alike.”

Coffee Communications joins forces with ATIC for a creative workshop

Dubai: Coffee Communications, the leading strategic brand consultancy and communications agency, teamed up with ATIC Psychological Counselling Center to mark World Mental Health Day on October 10th, 2023. This powerful collaboration seamlessly merged the realms of communication and the healing power of art in a transformative an impactful workshop centred on nurturing mental well-being.On the morning of October 9th, the ATIC team arrived at Coffee Communications armed with art supplies and art therapy knowledge. The Coffee team, comprising of PR and events specialists, social media experts, creatives, and HR/admin personnel, engaged in an art-therapy session, delving into self-expression and stress relief through artistic mediums.Natasha Al Fadhli, Founder & CEO of Coffee Communications, expressed her enthusiasm about the collaboration, stating, "Creating a holistic work environment that prioritizes our team's well-being is at the core of our philosophy. This collaboration with ATIC perfectly aligns with our vision, emphasizing mental health and fostering creativity – the lifeblood and heartbeat of our industry and Coffee Communications.”ATIC, renowned for its expertise in expressive therapy, guided the Coffee Communications team through an art therapy session meticulously crafted to stimulate creativity, alleviate stress, and promote team unity. This approach, blending traditional verbal therapy with Art Psychotherapy, enabled the team to explore a deeper realm of self-expression and tap into their creative side through a different format.Sara Powell, the visionary Founder of ATIC Psychological Counseling Center, added, "We were thrilled to collaborate with Coffee Communications and extend our expertise in art therapy to enhance mental well-being in the workplace. Our approach is aimed to stimulate diverse areas of the brain, fostering personal growth, resilience, and overall higher functioning."This collaboration embodied the commitment of both organizations to advancing evidence-based mental health services, integrating art and expressive psychotherapy in the Middle East.

Advanced Media shines at the first edition of Saudi Film Confex and unveils Cine

Advanced Media, the distributor of professional video, photo, broadcast, and cinema equipment and accessories in the MENA region, marked its presence at the inaugural Saudi Film Confex in Riyadh. This momentous event presented an excellent opportunity for Advanced Media to showcase its latest products and interact with key industry figures.Having expanded into the Saudi Arabian market in 2019 with the inauguration of a state-of-the-art showroom and service center in Riyadh, Advanced Media has been committed to fostering growth in the region. The minimalist design of Advanced Media's booth at the Saudi Film Confex was a testament to the company's reputation as an industry powerhouse, and it attracted an average of 150 attendees daily, including filmmakers, rental houses, producers, content creators, film students, and brand representatives. The exhibition proved to be an ideal platform for Advanced Media to reconnect with existing customers and engage with new prospects. The Advanced Media team unanimously agreed that the Saudi Film Confex has the potential to become even more significant and influential with each passing year.Alaa Al Rantisi, Co-founder and Managing Director of Advanced Media, expressed his enthusiasm, saying, "The Saudi market is young, vibrant, and very eager to learn. The Kingdom is investing substantial resources to create opportunities for this demographic. It is our responsibility to do our part, and we achieve that by showcasing the latest in media technology at exhibitions and organizing workshops and seminars that empower individuals to strengthen their skills and acquire new ones."In addition to its participation in Confex, Advanced Media introduced the Arabic edition of its biannual community digital cinema event, CINESeason. CINESeason was designed to provide aspiring filmmakers, content creators, and enthusiasts with a comprehensive learning experience in various aspects of cinematic filmmaking, offering a chance to engage with industry experts to discuss the latest technologies, trends, and solutions in digital cinema, broadcast, and video ahead of the 4th edition of the Riyadh Season.This immersive two-day event, which took place on October 6th and 7th, 2023, featured four workshops instructed by renowned cinematographers and industry experts, including Fouad Aoun, Mostafa Salah, and the esteemed Egyptian Director of Photography, Ayman Abou el Makarem. These workshops, attended by an average of 50 participants each, were received with great enthusiasm and positivity, as the instructors shared their profound knowledge and provided an engaging learning environment.CINESeason offered an exclusive opportunity for visitors and clients to interact directly with the Advanced Media team in Riyadh and gain firsthand experience of the workshops and seminars that are a hallmark of Advanced Media's commitment to education and innovation.Looking forward to the future, Advanced Media is dedicated to expanding its presence in Saudi Arabia and increasing the frequency and range of workshops, product launches, events, and exhibition participations. These initiatives align with the company's overarching goals of educating, informing, and familiarizing consumers with new equipment and the latest technological advances.In an exciting development, Advanced Media will kickstart 2024 with "CINETomorrow," a series of events to be held from January 11 to 13 in its Dubai showroom and training spaces. Stay tuned for more updates on this upcoming event, as Advanced Media continues its mission to empower and educate the growing media community in the region.

Middle East agencies bag 48 metals at the Lories 2023

At the 45th edition of the Lories, the premier awards event recognising creative excellence in advertising and brand communication across the MENA region, Middle East agencies shone with a total of 48 awards. Agencies such as McCann, Havas Middle East, Impact BBDO, Leo Burnett Beirut, MC Saatchi, MullenLowe MENA, Publicis Groupe, Publicis Middle East, and Saatchi and Saatchi ME were among the recipients. The prestigious Grand Prix was jointly awarded to FP7 McCann for its digital campaign "Heinzjack" and Impact BBDO for "Newspapers Inside The Newspaper" in the print communication category.Additionally, four campaigns received gold awards, including FP7 McCann for "Frequencies of Peace" and "Ketch-Up & Down," and Publicis Groupe for "McDonald’s Drive Thru School" and "Unseen Tears." Impact BBDO led the way with the most metals, securing 8 Silver and 8 Bronze, in addition to their Grand Prix. Publicis Groupe earned a total of 12 metals, including 2 Gold, 3 Silver, and 7 Bronze. FP7 McCann received 2 Silver and 3 Bronze awards in addition to their Grand Prix.Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi ME secured 3 Silver and 2 Bronze, while Publicis Middle East earned 2 Silver awards. Meanwhile, agencies Havas Middle East, Leo Burnett Beirut, MC Saatchi Abu Dhabi, and MullenLowe MENA each took home 1 Bronze.On a network level, Publicis Groupe was the standout winner with a total of 20 awards across its agencies. The event also honoured Khaled AlShehhi, Executive Director of Marketing and Communication from the UAE Government Media Office, as the recipient of the Loeries Marketing Leadership and Innovation 2023 award. He is the first awardee from the Middle East to receive this prestigious honour.

UAE’s rising stars head to Arab Youth Hackathon final during COP28

Dubai:  PepsiCo and the Arab Youth Center (AYC) have announced three teams from the UAE for the Arab Youth Hackathon final, following a three-day bootcamp hosted by PepsiCo, PepsiCo Foundation, Plug and Play and AYC. The regional entrepreneurship program aims to create smarter solutions for climate-related issues in agriculture, circular economy, water security, and renewable energy. The bootcamp took place at the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park, where finalists received mentorship through curated workshops from industry and subject matter experts. The first day kicked off with sustainability activities and introductions to help set workshop objectives, followed by an ideation assignment to help identify the strongest ideas. Over the next two days, participants learned more about design thinking, evolving an idea into a viable product, and green communications, complete with mentor-led working sessions. This extensive training culminated in a final pitch to a judging panel of five experts across the innovation, sustainability, and business development spectrum to hone in on the top three winners from the UAE. The entries were evaluated based on their sustainability alignment, ability to reduce emissions, and the magnitude of impact on areas under the four pillars of the competition (Water, Agriculture, Climate and Circular Economy).Esaal, SolAir, and Krabby are now set to compete against other regional challengers at COP28, as part of the Arab entrepreneurship program. Esaal, represented by a trio of founders from the United Arab Emirates University, includes Reem AlMussabeh, Alhasan Farajallah, and Anas Al-Tomili. Their idea revolves around a digital analytics platform, aiming to revolutionize business decision-making. Esaal eliminates paper receipts and transforms them into smart digital receipts, offering actionable insights.SolAir, led by founders Keegan Cobb and Azzan Farooq, both from the American University of Sharjah, boasts an innovative concept. They have developed an autonomous device that utilizes pressurized air to linearly clean solar panels, all without the need for water. This innovation aims to maintain solar panels at their maximum efficiency, contributing to sustainable energy solutions.Krabby, a team led by founders Harsh Garg, Sanober Sarfaraz Ahmed, and Anurag Kumar Jha from BITS Pilani, presents an autonomous coral restoration service. Employing artificial intelligence, Krabby identifies healthy coral fragments and transplants them to suitable locations, contributing to coral reef preservation.Aamer Sheikh, CEO – Middle East at PepsiCo said, “Through the Arab Youth Hackathon, we are advancing COP28’s goal to promote youth engagement in climate action. There is incredible innovative potential in the region, and we believe we have a role to play in creating an environment for young people’s collective action and innovation to be supported and accelerated. We’re inspired to see the caliber of young climate challengers in the region and look forward to working closely with our partners to support entrepreneurs at all business stages.”Mr. Sadeq Jarrar, Executive Director - Arab Youth Center said, “The Arab Youth Hackathon is a vital initiative to engage young people and capture their visions. It also harnesses the creativity and potential of promising talent in our region. Through this initiative, we are working to empower young people to find effective solutions to pressing climate challenges.” He added. “Youth’s valuable participation in the twenty-eighth Conference of the Parties (COP28) is an affirmation of the will of Arab youth to lead a meaningful transformation towards a sustainable future, and we look forward to seeing their creative imprint on the global stage.”Jordan Bray, Country Director UAE, Plug and Play said, “We are genuinely excited by the outstanding ideas showcased by the UAE's young innovators during the Arab Youth Hackathon. Fostering regional talent is at the core of Plug and Play's mission, and we believe in these young innovators' potential to create a more sustainable future. Congratulations to the three UAE finalists, and we eagerly anticipate their contributions to the global dialogue at COP28. We have full confidence that their innovative solutions will drive meaningful and lasting change on an international scale.”Finalists from Egypt were announced last week, with Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia expected to follow in the coming weeks. The finals of the competition, featuring 15 of the most promising solutions from the five countries, will be happening in the Youth Hub taking place on the sidelines of COP28 in Dubai. The three best innovators will receive an equity-free seed fund from the PepsiCo Foundation to launch their businesses, worth $30,000 for the winner, $20,000 for the runner-up, and $10,000 for the second runner-up. In addition, they will participate in a one-month incubation program that will help them develop and scale their groundbreaking ideas and ensure long-term success.

Shariah-Compliant Crypto Islamic Coin to be listed on KuCoin

Middle East: Islamic Coin, the Shariah-compliant cryptocurrency that has been grabbing global attention, recently revealed its listing on KuCoin, one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges. This eagerly awaited launch on October 10th marks the first of what appears to be a series of listings for Islamic Coin, hinting at further developments in the near future.Founded in 2017, KuCoin has made a name for its reward system. The platform supports more than 1,200 cryptocurrency trading pairs and 700 coins. With over 30 million users worldwide and a whopping $30 billion in trading volume in a single day, KuCoin has been marking its position among top platforms.Commenting on the announcement, Mohammed AlKaff AlHashmi, CEO of Islamic Coin said: “We are excited about this milestone and look forward to building more relationships with leading exchanges throughout the world, in order to bring the benefits of Shariah-compliant finance to the Muslim community and beyond,”With charity and philanthropy a major part of the ecosystem, the Team has been actively cultivating connections within sustainability circles and participating in international events such as COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh and the Youth International Conference in New York, both held under the auspices of the UN. Islamic Coin, along with the HAQQ blockchain built on a Proof-of-Stake mechanism, is widely recognized for its eco-friendly attributes and alignment with the UN's objectives related to reduced energy consumption and enhanced access to financial services.Both Islamic Coin and its underlying Haqq Network have garnered substantial global attention. They have established strategic partnerships, notably with London's DDCAP Group, facilitating seamless integration with more than 300 global Islamic Banks. Additionally, the team has solidified collaborations with key entities like Fambras, the largest global Halal certification agency, and Sushi, a prominent decentralized exchange on the global stage. The ecosystem also encompasses Pyypl, one of the Middle East's largest payment applications, and Holiday Swap, the world’s leading home-swapping service worldwide.The Advisory Board itself already includes members of Abu Dhabi and Dubai Ruling Families, including Sheikh Dr. Hazza bin Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sheikh Saeed bin Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Mohammed bin Khalid Al Nahyan, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Khalifa Bin Mohammad Bin Khalid Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Juma bin Maktoum Al Maktoum. The team also boasts top names in traditional and Islamic finance. Islamic Coin’s Executive Board includes Emaar’s Hussein Al Meeza (who is also a co-founder), one of the key personalities involved in establishing Dubai Islamic Bank — the first fully-fledged Islamic Bank in the world. The Executive Board also includes Khamis Buharoon AI Shamsi, the former Assistant Director of the Finance Division, and Assistant Director of the Internal Audit Division of the Central Bank of the UAE. The impressive list includes Greg Gigliotti, CEO, Chief Investment Officer, and Founding Partner of Xtellus Advisors, Gigliotti is a respected fund manager with experience at Goldman Sachs and other global institutions who has managed a portfolio of over $16 Billion during his career.Islamic Coin’s Shariah Board is led by Sheikh Dr. Nizam Mohammed Saleh Yaquby, recognized by Bloomberg as 'The Gatekeeper' of a $2 trillion market for Islamic financial products. Sheikh Yaquby sits on the Shariah boards of top international finance, including HSBC, Lloyds TSB, and Barclays; France’s BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole and Citigroup.

TikTok highlights shopping behavior trends in the GCC in new report

Dubai: TikTok has released its first-ever What’s Next: Shopping Trend Report to explore shifts in shopping behaviors and culture on the platform, and how brands can take on a more active role in community commerce.The latest in TikTok’s What's Next series, the report breaks down key community insights into actionable takeaways and trend analysis, supported by data and case studies, to equip businesses with the tools they need to engage with audiences on TikTok.Commenting on the report launch, Aref Yehia, Head of Retail & E-Commerce Business Partnerships at TikTok MENA, said: “By blending community, entertainment, and shopping, TikTok is reimagining the face of modern retail. As customers continue to turn to the platform for product discovery, brands of all sizes and across all industries have an amazing opportunity to connect with their own unique audiences on TikTok. We hope the What’s Next: Shopping Trend Report will help brands seize this opportunity and build lasting relationships with customers.”Our world is cluttered with everyday stressors for regular shoppers. When their relationship with a brand is weak, shopping can feel less like an event and more like a chore. Friendship is the key to brand love and loyalty, and TikTok is one of the only platforms on the internet that fosters friendship between brands and audiences to drive deeper connections, love and loyalty.The findings of the What's Next: Shopping Trend Report are broken down into three key 'Layers of Love' that underpin shopping culture on TikTok, accompanied by the relevant 'Shopper Trend Signals' that show emerging behaviors and interests.It's a Match: Relatable creators and attention-grabbing storytelling are the keys to finding your brand's ideal audience.Audiences are constantly shopping and making active connections to the content they see on TikTok. Here, users decide in seconds whether or not to engage with content. If brands don't immediately communicate added value, users are inclined to swipe away.If brands want a spark from audiences, they should avoid overt product marketing at the starting point. Instead, build and maintain user trust with unique, honest, and authentic perspectives to create longer-form content, connections, and partnerships, eventually leading to long-term loyalty from audiences.METAP brands that advertised on TikTok consistently over an extended period increased their trust with viewers by 41%. Moreover, TikTok ads were found to spark positive first impressions. After seeing an ad on TikTok, viewers in Saudi Arabia were found to trust the brand 24% more, and were 42% more likely to be loyal to the brand.Getting to Know You: Build the foundation of a friendship through personal identity and community to engender real value in your audience's lives.Brands often only share at the surface level, not digging into the motivations, communities, and aesthetics that inspire impulse and long-term purchase decisions. Tapping into identity and community unlocks new pathways for audiences to learn more about themselves, their communities, and their favorite brands.Moreover, communities influence purchasing decisions; in fact, 44% of TikTok users in the GCC buy something to fit in with friends, community, or because everyone is talking about it. Additionally, TikTok users make purchases that spark joy, with 41% of users in the GCC shopping to lift their spirits or as a treat for themselves.Shopping on TikTok is a safe, engaging and entertaining experience where users can discover and engage with products they love; 60% of TikTok users globally feel communities on TikTok are supportive and inclusive.Growing Together: Drive user intent and brand loyalty by repeatedly making the shopping experience more fun.It is easy to get lost in the instant gratification of product 'sell out,' 'virality,' and 'hype.' While TikTok is a catalyst for these moments, the real shopping magic is in the sustained fidelity established through the platform, which keeps products selling out and has customers begging for more.Positive customer satisfaction, repeat purchases, and organic word-of-mouth lead to sustained brand growth. TikTok generates double the post-purchase content creation than other platforms. In the GCC, 57% of TikTok users create a post about a product or brand they purchased from.Moreover, TikTok users are 1.2 times more likely to buy from the same retailer again when TikTok is part of the purchase journey.The full What's Next: Shopping Trend Report is available for download here:

Global female-led consultancy to launch in Saudi Arabia

Jeddah:  LOTUS Arabia, an award winning and female-led consultancy, officially launched in Saudi Arabia this week. Having partnered some of the Kingdom’s most prestigious brands and entities over the last three years, the global agency is now setting down roots bringing to the nation a totally new approach to marketing and communications.Designed to mirror the ambition of the Kingdom and its people LOTUS Arabia is an antidote to the existing networked model of agency. The new approach will be dynamic, creative and strategic giving Saudi’s start-ups, brands and projects the tools to accelerate and maximise growth. Providing destination marketing through the lens of travel, sport, entertainment, culture, celebrity and influencers the agency will offer a one-stop shop for brand fame and commercial growth.With offices in Jeddah and Riyadh amplified by existing presence in London, New York and Singapore LOTUS Arabia will provide a local to global service marrying international expertise with local understanding and nuance. With a commitment and mandate to nurture, train and grow Saudi-based talent LOTUS Arabia will also source the best international talent to spearhead and share best-practice.Led by a female team of multi-discipline experts LOTUS Arabia will be headed up in the Kingdom by Saudi brand communications professional Shorouq Mufti and award-winning CEO of the LOTUS Group, Jules Ugo.Jules Ugo, CEO of LOTUS Arabia, added “Having worked in international communications for over twenty-five years I can hand-on-heart say I have never seen such ambition and vision as shown by the Saudi nation and people. I am deeply honoured and humbled to be part of this vision through setting up LOTUS Arabia. To be here, establishing deep roots and offering something new to market is incredible and I look forward to working with Saudi’s most innovative and creative people and brands.”Shorouq Mufti, GM of LOTUS Arabia comments “I’m delighted to be part of establishing LOTUS Arabia and bringing this unique and fresh marcomms approach to Saudi. It’s a great honour to work with such an experienced and award-winning team. I look forward to applying my passion for my nation combined with my experience in storytelling to build lasting partnerships that support Saudi Arabia in achieving its goal of becoming a global tourism destination.”Our Services:StrategyCreativeBrand CommunicationsMedia Outreach & Press OfficeRepresentationSales & MarketingSocial MediaActivations & EventsCelebrity & Influencer EngagementThought Leadership and KOL Strategy

IPG Health furthers expansion in Middle East, North Africa

IPG Health, the world’s leading global healthcare marketing communications network, is reinforcing its offering and presence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with the launch of McCann Health Cairo. The new full-service agency is a continuation of IPG Health’s commitment to delivering the best talent, capabilities, and expertise to provide the right, bespoke solutions for our clients in every global market. McCann Health Cairo bolsters the network’s regional hub in Dubai, positioning IPG Health to provide specialized capabilities, including production and medical expertise to pharma and healthcare companies across the entire MENA region.“The MENA region is a dynamic and rapidly growing market that is increasingly important for our global clients, and for our own business as well,” said Dana Maiman, CEO of IPG Health. “As with everything we do, expanding our offering into this region is part of our commitment to doing what’s right for our clients, their brands, and our people. That is how we accelerate value, impact, and growth.”Offering a comprehensive suite of health marketing and communications capabilities, McCann Health Cairo is led by Karen Kamel as Regional Managing Director. The agency builds on the growth and momentum of the network’s McCann Health Dubai, which has enjoyed a string of creative and business successes in 2023 including – several “best places to work” recognitions, and its acclaimed “Wall Street Balls” campaign with FP7 McCann Dubai and the Testicular Cancer Society earning several awards in prestigious awards programs including the Cannes Lions Festival.“The healthcare industry in MENA is evolving at an incredible pace as our clients face increasing pressure to become more nimble, resourceful and effective at a global AND local scale”, said Karen Kamel, Regional Managing Director of McCann Health Dubai and McCann Health Cairo. “The addition of McCann Health Cairo to our group enables us to bring the unparalleled creativity and global scale of IPG Health to our clients, which will undoubtedly take them, and us, to even greater heights.”The launch was in collaboration with IPG’s FP7McCann Cairo, one of the most prominent creative agencies locally, under the leadership of Amr Kalaawy. As sister agencies within the IPG network in Egypt, FP7McCann and McCann Health Cairo will collaborate leveraging synergies, resources for the benefit of clients in the region.Saturnino Izquierdo, IPG Health’s President of Global Client Solutions, International Markets said: “This move is testament to our unwavering commitment to our clients and their brands. The MENA region is undergoing an extraordinary transformation of healthcare systems that is bringing massive opportunity. With McCann Health Cairo, we are now even better positioned to help our clients drive their growth, creativity, and impact in the region to even greater heights.”

UAE emerging as a global hub for Web3 innovation

Stablecoins have been one of the most pivotal use cases for digital assets. Traditionally, the stablecoin landscape has been dominated by US dollar-backed stablecoins such as USDT, USDC, and the recently introduced PYUSD. To gauge their popularity, one only needs to look at the numbers, i.e., the total market cap of stablecoins hovers around $124.117 billion (according to DeFi Llama), with USDT leading the way with a commanding 67.13% market share. Given its association with the world's most influential currency, the US Dollar. As crypto regulations keep developing across more regions, one will see a corresponding growth in the popular use cases.  The primary utility of stablecoins lies in their ability to facilitate cross-border payments at an exceptionally low cost. Globally, corporations shuffle approximately $23.5 trillion (as per JP Morgan's report) across borders each year. The associated transaction costs for these massive sums tally up to a staggering $120 billion annually. Issues like trapped liquidity, delayed settlements, and the need for foreign currency conversions also plague this process. In this context, stablecoins offer a streamlined solution, enabling seamless transactions with unparalleled security and traceability on a distributed ledger technology. These transactions can easily be facilitated through regulated and compliant custody solutions providers.The UAE market has already surprised us with its commitment to becoming a leader in the digital assets space, and it is not surprising to see such highly innovative and simple-to-use Web3 products emerging from the nation. The launch of Dirham-backed stablecoin shows that the digital asset market in the region is entering a more mature phase and is ready for the next stage of growth on the back of evolved regulatory frameworks.Not only that, the UAE market is also emerging as a global hub for Web3 innovation, and the Dubai International Finance Center (DIFC) is acting as a fulcrum to strike a fine balance between regulations and the business aspirations of Web3 entrepreneurs. The growing popularity of the UAE as a Web3 hub clearly shows in the statistics released by DIFC. There has been a 23% rise in the companies enrolling at DIFC this year. Out of these, 660 companies are led by fintech innovation. The UAE regulators are focused on boosting the local economy by liberalising the policies to suit the needs of emerging technologies like Web3. The move will create high-quality jobs for the local community, provide skill development opportunities and add to the region's economic growth through operational expenditures and services to the public. The rapid advancements on the policy front will ensure that the UAE is at the forefront of the web3 revolution and stays ahead of its global counterparts. Liminal is keen to build a strong presence in the UAE region and has received in-principle approval from ADGM in Abu Dhabi to provide digital asset custody services to Web3 businesses and institutions. As an active player in the region, Liminal already has a premium clientele and will look to leverage its position further. We are committed to the UAE Web3 growth story and have hired local talent for leadership positions. We will continue to expand our operations across the Middle East.

Silal acquires majority stake in SAFCO Group

Silal, Abu Dhabi’s leading food, agriculture, and technology company, is strengthening its market presence and expanding its footprint in the food service and distribution industry by acquiring a majority stake in SAFCO Group, a leading food and beverage distributor in the UAE.The acquisition of SAFCO integrates with Silal’s strategic growth ambitions and significantly strengthens its presence in the hospitality, restaurant and catering segment, leveraging SAFCO's 30-year track record in importing, distributing and exporting a wide array of premium food and non-food products across the UAE, Middle East and Africa. The acquisition integrates with Silal's strategic objectives and growth ambitions.As pioneers in the food service and distribution industry, SAFCO has continually strived to uphold its preeminent status through innovation, an expansive distribution network, cutting-edge facilities and commitment to delivering exceptional customer service. SAFCO's foundation rests upon a strong organisational culture, team loyalty, a strong work ethic, deep commitment and trust, all of which form the bedrock of the company's operations.SAFCO’s acquisition is a pivotal step in enhancing Silal’s capacity to meet the market's demand for a wide range of high-quality products and will accelerate the company’s efforts to enhance its food distribution.

Franklin Templeton hires new CEO to lead its Saudi Business

Riyadh: Franklin Templeton is pleased to announce that on October 2 Muneera H. AIDossary has been appointed Chief Executive Officer for Franklin Templeton Financial Company, a new entity being established in Saudi Arabia. In this newly created role, she will be responsible for expanding Franklin Templeton’s presence and business in Saudi Arabia. Based in Riyadh, Muneera will report to Sandeep Singh, Head of CEEMEA & India, Franklin Templeton.Singh commented: “I am delighted that Muneera AIDossary has joined our firm. Franklin Templeton has been doing business with Saudi-based clients for around 25 years and with the rapid growth of the local Saudi market and increase in client demand, this is an exciting time to welcome Muneera on board. With a proven track in Saudi Arabia’s asset management and banking sectors, she brings robust experience and in-depth knowledge of the local market, which will strengthen our regional efforts and expansion plans.”With over 20 years of industry experience, AIDossary joins Franklin Templeton from ANB Capital where she was Head of Asset Management. Prior to this, she served as Head of Asset Management & CIO for HSBC Saudi Arabia. AlDossary held various leadership roles at Mulkia Investment, Saudi Fransi Capital, part of Credit Agricole Asset Management and Banque Saudi Fransi. Additionally, AIDossary has served as Chairperson for the Board of the Capital Market Institutions Committee in Saudi Arabia from 2020-2022 contributing to her deep knowledge of Saudi Arabia’s regulations and capital markets. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Arab Open University.She commented: “I am thrilled to join such a dynamic and experienced team. This is a pivotal time in the Middle East as Saudi Arabia continues to develop its financial strength as part of Vision 2030. With Franklin Templeton’s strong brand, decades of investment expertise and a diverse and innovative range of investment solutions, I plan to leverage my experience and relationships to further expand our business in Saudi Arabia.”President & CEO Jenny Johnson added: “We see exciting growth opportunities as Saudi Arabia continues to transform its capital markets given its geographical position at the crossroads of three continents and as the fastest growing member of the G20. As a result of the increased demand from both local retail and institutional segments, Franklin Templeton is looking forward to offering our breadth of capabilities across all asset classes and a wide choice of strategies to Saudi investors.”Within the global asset management industry, Franklin Templeton is known for being an early entrant in the Middle East. A key region for our global distribution business, the firm has been operating in the region for approximately 25 years and serves some of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, central banks, family offices and global private banks based in the region.

Cenomi Retail signs agreements to enter Uzbekistan retail market

 Cenomi Retail, the pioneering retail brand partner of choice in Saudi Arabia and international markets, has announced its entry into Uzbekistan with the signing of nine international brands to open in Tashkent City Mall. This upcoming 250,000 sqm development sits at the heart of the urban regeneration of the capital city, setting the benchmark for lifestyle, retail and entertainment in the country.Having signed Aldo and Cinnabon agreements in April, the company completes its inaugural market entry with the confirmation that it will open seven Inditex brand stores in the new development, anchored by a 3,200 sqm Zara store, in addition to Pull & Bear, Stradivarius, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho and Zara Home. Uzbekistan represents the eleventh international operation for Cenomi Retail. Having formed in Saudi Arabia three decades ago it has a firmly established presence across the MENA and CIS regions.With a population of more than 30 million people, Uzbekistan has seen a marked increase in interest from international retail brands looking to capitalize on maturing consumer habits. Having previously been dominated by the traditional market format, the country’s retail sector is seeing a move towards retail chains as it modernizes to meet the increasing demands of its large consumer population.Dr Gunther Helm, CEO, Cenomi Retail, said: “The retail sector in Uzbekistan is continually picking up pace, seeing double digit growth in sales and a consumer that is asking for greater choice in modern, experiential lifestyle destinations.“Having experienced strong success in a number of CIS countries to date, where Cenomi Retail operates some of the world’s leading fashion, beauty and F&B brands, we are confident that our know-how will promote Uzbekistan as a vibrant market for growth.”

Katerina Bazalova promoted to VP of Creative at Incubeta MENA

Incubeta MENA, a well-known digital agency, has recently implemented strategic changes in its senior management to further solidify its position as a leading digital agency in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. As part of these changes, Katerina Bazalova has been promoted to the position of Vice President of Creative for the EMEA and APAC regions.Incubeta MENA, a well-known digital agency, has recently implemented strategic changes in its senior management to further solidify its position as a leading digital agency in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. As part of these changes, Katerina Bazalova has been promoted to the position of Vice President of Creative for the EMEA and APAC regions.Katerina previously served as the Regional Director of Business Operations, where she was responsible for overseeing regional operations related to SEO, Social Media, and Creative. In her new role, Katerina's primary focus is to drive growth for Incubeta by developing world-class, client-centric creative solutions on a global scale. Her aim is to maintain Incubeta's reputation as an expert client partner. She has already assembled an exceptional team that shares Incubeta's passion for creating bold, impactful, meaningful, and memorable work. Before joining Incubeta, Katerina held senior positions at Geometry MENA and Cheil Worldwide in London, UK, and she will continue to advance Incubeta's global and regional creative solutions.Upon her promotion, Katerina Bazalova expressed, "I feel honored to be a part of this challenging yet incredibly inspiring and invigorating industry. I am excited to lead and bring about changes in our products and industry culture alongside the best professionals in the field."In addition to Katerina's promotion, Incubeta has also welcomed Dominic Honess as the Regional Business Director. In his new role, Honess will oversee the company's client portfolio, with a specific focus on enhancing Incubeta's offerings in the areas of Media, SEO, and Social. With 14 years of experience in the digital industry, Honess brings extensive global expertise, having held prominent positions in multiple markets at UM and Mindshare UK.These changes are in alignment with Incubeta MENA's regional business strategy, aimed at fostering long-term growth within the MENA region. The strategy involves cultivating a diverse leadership team with a deep reservoir of experience and a strong drive to fuel the company's growth