The opulent oasis: A journey through Dubai's luxury landscape

In the heart of the Arabian Desert lies a city that has become synonymous with opulence, extravagance, and grandeur: Dubai. Renowned as a playground for the rich and famous, Dubai boasts a vibrant luxury retail scene that rivals the world's most elite destinations. From towering skyscrapers to sprawling malls adorned with the finest couture, Dubai's allure for luxury brands knows no bounds.Dubai synonym with shoppingOne of the most prominent fixtures of Dubai's luxury landscape is its array of high-end shopping destinations. The Dubai Mall, for instance, stands as the largest mall in the world by total area, boasting over 1,200 retail outlets, including flagship stores of prestigious fashion houses such as Chanel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton. Similarly, the Mall of the Emirates houses an impressive collection of luxury boutiques alongside attractions like an indoor ski resort, catering to the city's affluent residents and visitors alike.Dubai's population comprises high-net-worth individuals from various parts of the world, creating a magnet for luxury brands, observes Simon Hacker, CEO and Founder, Alpha Nero, a leading firm in the manufacturing and design of shop fixtures, shop-in-shops, boutiques, and pop-up stores for high–end, global and regional luxury brands, having a portfolio of over 50+ luxury brands spanning the Middle East, Asia, Africa & Europe.“The city's reputation for top-notch infrastructure, luxurious lifestyle, and expansive shopping malls, housing a diverse range of high-end brands, further contributes to its appeal as the perfect setting for luxury retailers,” says Hacker.Concurring with Hacker on this, Gian Paolo, Co-Founder of Vision Industry and Managing Director of Optitalia Group, said: “Dubai's global reputation as a shopping destination stems from its cosmopolitan appeal and unparalleled luxury offerings. VISION INDUSTRY's successful journey in Dubai is rooted in understanding and adapting to the city's diverse consumer base. Our exclusive eyewear experience, combining customization and a curated collection of luxury brands, aligns seamlessly with Dubai's penchant for innovation and luxury. The city's global influence and the unique shopping culture make it an ideal environment for VISION INDUSTRY to thrive and set new standards in the eyewear industry.”Erika Doyle, Founder of Drink Dry, a luxury non-alcoholic brand, putting across her thoughts on the Dubai luxury market, said: “Dubai is home to over 200 nationalities and it is a highly populated city with the population increasing at a rate unseen anywhere else in the world. This makes Dubai the perfect launch platform for global visibility. And of course, it would be naive not to acknowledge the fact that people have strong spending power. For us as Drink Dry and our luxury brands, being visible in Dubai also has a very strategic element to it too. It opens the door to global expansion.”Local luxury brands going globalIt's fascinating to see how Dubai has become a hub for luxury shopping, with various malls and boutique brands catering to fashion enthusiasts. Some prominent local luxury brands which have made the whole world look towards the region are:Michael Cinco: Known for its couture collections and exclusive bridal wear, Michael Cinco is a Filipino brand that originated in Dubai. The brand has gained global recognition with top celebrities like Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga adorned in its creations.Bambah: Offering modern and elegant pieces, Bambah is another notable luxury brand in Dubai. It provides a range of dresses, gowns, tops, pants, and skirts, allowing shoppers to make a strong fashion statement. Bambah has a physical boutique in City Walk and an online store for convenience.Zayan The Label: Founded by Dubai-based fashion designer Zayan Ghandour, Zayan The Label offers trendy outfits with hand-embroidered motifs and vibrant prints. The brand features dresses, tops, jumpsuits, kaftans, skirts, pants, and more, catering to those who seek unique and fashionable attire.All Things Mochi: With contemporary pieces handcrafted by local artists, All Things Mochi stands out for its distinctive designs inspired by various cultures worldwide. The brand offers dress sets, jackets, skirts, and more, showcasing vibrant and eclectic styles.Bougessa: Bougessa is a luxury label known for its sleek, minimalist dresses with a modern twist. The brand offers collections for different seasons, featuring a mix of classic designs and vibrant palettes to cater to diverse preferences.These are just a few of the local luxury brands contributing to Dubai's vibrant fashion scene, offering shoppers a wide array of choices to express their style and individuality.Tax-free shopping policiesDubai's tax-free shopping policies have cemented its status as a haven for luxury consumers. With no value-added tax (VAT) on goods and a reputation for offering competitive prices, Dubai attracts shoppers seeking exclusive items ranging from haute couture fashion to rare timepieces and fine jewelry. The annual Dubai Shopping Festival further enhances the city's allure, drawing crowds with extravagant promotions, fashion shows, and celebrity appearances.The city's status as a tax-free haven serves as a significant attraction for international shoppers, says Simon Hacker.Balancing exclusiveness with mass popularityTraditionally, luxury brands were associated with exclusivity, targeting only the elite class of society. However, with the advent of globalization and the rise of affluent middle-class consumers in emerging markets, the luxury market has expanded significantly.Luxury brands now face the challenge of maintaining their aura of exclusivity while also appealing to a broader consumer base. This delicate balancing act requires them to carefully manage their brand image and marketing strategies.Democratizing accessOne approach luxury brands have taken is to democratize access to their products through various means such as expanding their retail presence, offering lower-priced or entry-level products, and engaging with consumers through digital channels. By making their products more accessible, they can attract a wider range of customers without diluting their brand's prestige.At the same time, luxury brands continue to invest in maintaining their exclusivity through limited-edition releases, personalised experiences, and collaborations with high-profile artists or designers. These tactics help to preserve the sense of luxury and desirability associated with the brand while also catering to the evolving tastes of consumers.On maintaining this balance, Simon Hacker said: “Alpha Nero in essence is all about bringing the balance between form and function. We adopt the detail-oriented, tailor-made luxury approach that mirrors our customers’ brand values while also combining an industrial approach that allows brands to roll out their concepts through the region – allowing room for consistency, a standard finish as well as elevated aesthetics and customisation where required.”<img src='\40125cb2962e5e3045298e8113c69dc2.png' class='content_image'>Gian Paolo, said: “VISION INDUSTRY strikes a delicate balance by offering an exclusive Design Lab experience for customization, catering to discerning individuals seeking a unique eyewear journey. Simultaneously, our curated collection of over 60 luxury brands, including exclusive names like Celine and Bugatti, ensures accessibility and diversity in choices. This approach allows us to maintain an air of exclusivity while serving the desires of a broad spectrum of consumers, ensuring that everyone can find their perfect eyewear at VISION INDUSTRY.”Erika Doyle, about the non-alcoholic drinks category, says: “We understand that there are different occasions of consumption - some require the ‘crème-de-la-crème’ of what we have to offer, such as weddings, anniversaries or a special birthday celebrations; and some are less significant: romantic dinner with your partner or a little bit more casual get-together with friends. Therefore, we have a wide choice of products to satisfy all requirements. The one critical part that we do not compromise on is quality. This is what helps us maintain our customers and to always be their ‘go to’ for all things non-alcoholic drinks.”<img src='\0d961d63eb581d7b77b85407d5742be6.png' class='content_image'>Experiential retail: Latest fad in luxury retailIn addition to material possessions, consumers in Dubai are increasingly seeking experiential luxury, encompassing personalized services, immersive brand experiences, and exclusive events. Luxury brands are tapping into this trend by curating bespoke experiences, hosting VIP events, and fostering a sense of exclusivity to cultivate brand loyalty and differentiate them in a competitive market landscape.Simon Hacker, who has been in the industry for over a decade, says: “I have seen experiential retail, digital integration, personalisation, pop-up stores and limited-edition lines or products, at the forefront of successful retail experiences.Stressing on experiential retail he said: “Experiential retail is crucial for brands in a saturated market like Dubai, where luxury online platforms are thriving. Creating memorable in-store experiences helps differentiate brands from online competitors, offering customers something they cannot get through online shopping alone. This approach fosters a deeper connection between the brand and the consumer.”Seconding Hacker’s views, Erika Doyle said: “Experiential retail is extremely relevant to what we do. When we examine our hospitality partners, particularly in the UAE where we have a wide array of exceptional, award-winning unlicensed venues offering phenomenal cuisine crafted by Michelin Star chefs, it's evident that the beverage options remain notably limited. First and foremost, the customers are looking for a full experience. The biggest trend growth we see is that the emotional connection between the luxury brand and the customer is paramount, this is what matters the most if we are looking to maintain customer loyalty.”<img src='\5d30b8ba0d59d7628f872a14efaf5ed9.png' class='content_image'>Glancing at the futureHowever, amidst the glitz and glamour, Dubai's luxury sector faces challenges ranging from economic volatility to shifting consumer behavior. The COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, has had a profound impact on the city's tourism and retail sectors, prompting luxury brands to adapt their strategies to navigate the uncertainty.Simon Hacker says: “Looking to the future, the success of luxury retail may hinge on the integration of technology and the continuation of experiential strategies. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality are likely to play increasingly significant roles in enhancing customer experiences. Moreover, brands will need to continuously innovate to stay ahead, exploring new ways to surprise and delight customers, both in-store and through digital channels.”He further said: “While there is a mindset shift, we are yet to see tangible data that is enhancing brand environmental performance. This is where the Alpha Nero carbon calculating software stands ready to contribute. Our software is customised for the manufacturing process and uses greenhouse gas protocol to efficiently deep dive into data by project, by build, while also making recommendations on materials that are better suited for a brand’s journey to becoming net zero. The software leverages AI, greenhouse gas protocol, and smart learning to effectively input and analyse a high volume of data across scopes, generating a streamlined report that shows how various decisions throughout the project will affect its emissions (electrical, manpower, material, transport etc.) thereby assisting brands no matter how far along or advanced they are on their path to sustainability.”As the city looks towards the future, one thing is certain—Dubai's journey towards unparalleled luxury has only just begun.Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

General Motors' connectivity service OnStar launches in Bahrain

Building on its regional expansion, General Motors (GM) has launched its pioneering in-vehicle technology OnStar Connected Services, in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The arrival of OnStar offers Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac drivers in-vehicle convenience and connectivity, alongside heightened safety and security services, offering a seamless drive experience.As the nation actively diversifies its digital infrastructure, its journey to date is indicative of the region’s efforts to encourage local innovation and technology-backed industry solutions. Its digital transformation ambitions form the cornerstone of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, a comprehensive development plan aimed at growing the economy and ensuring sustainable growth. The launch of OnStar within the Kingdom of Bahrain brings enhanced connectivity to the mobility sector, further realizing this vision.“Introducing OnStar to the Kingdom of Bahrain is the next step in our efforts to elevate connectivity, safety and an elevated driving experiences in the region. Following the recent launch in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia alongside Kuwait and the UAE, we are continuing to expand the Middle East’s access to connected mobility, in line with our vision for a world of Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions and Zero Congestion. Through this launch, we are keen to play a role in achieving the nation’s Vision 2030, alongside our journey towards bringing everybody into the next generation of mobility.” said Luis De La Cruz, Managing Director for OnStar at General Motors Africa and Middle East.The roll out of OnStar Connected Services in the Kingdom of Bahrain within enabled GM vehicles1 is a result of collaborative efforts between STC and various government entities in the Kingdom. This approach underscores the importance of a cohesive strategy when driving change in mobility.  Hesham Mustafa, Chief Business officer, STC Bahrain, commented “as of one of the leading digital enablers, STC Bahrain is at the forefront of driving the Kingdom's digital transformation journey. Our cutting-edge technology innovations are not only customizable to meet specific business requirements but are also sustainable, aligning seamlessly with our commitment to environmental responsibility. Achieving a significant milestone in the mobility sector is a testament to our dedication to making digitalization more accessible, diverse, and integrated into our clients' business operations.”Through its Connect and Protect plans, Members can access features on OnStar enabled vehicles[1]. Owners of OnStar equipped Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac vehicles in the Kingdom of Bahrain can activate Connected Services[2] by pressing the OnStar Blue Button in their vehicles or reaching out to our dealer partner, National Motor Company. GM owners can unlock and enjoy free Standard Connectivity for 10 years[3] with benefits like Diagnostic Alerts, Monthly Diagnostic Reports, Dealer Maintenance notifications[4], Smart Driver[5] and Vehicle Software Updates Over-the-air (as applicable).For a suite of convenient user services such as remote commands, vehicle status checks, on demand diagnostics, connected navigation, destination download as well as 24/7 support from specially trained OnStar Advisors[6] - drivers can opt for the ‘Connect’ plan. The regional contact center ensures Advisor availability around the clock, offering support in both English and Arabic.Alternatively, OnStar’s ‘Protect’ plan offers proactive peace of mind, as drivers can rest assured that their safety and security remains GM’s fundamental priority. The plan offers access to Automatic Crash Response, where OnStar can work with relevant authorities in the event of an emergency, even if the driver is unable to call for help. Elevating this service further, OnStar supports with detecting accidents as well as identifying and retrieving stolen vehicles and misplaced keys.GM owners can benefit from the innovative services that personalize and maximize their ownership experience by subscribing for as low as 9.9BHD per month for the Connect Plan or Protect Plan, else opting for the bundle offering at BHD 14.99. The user-friendly mobile app7 across the brands help control a vehicle from anywhere and activate connection at will. Once activated, Members can enjoy a free trial period of up to three months.Aligned with its ‘Better Never Stops’ mentality, OnStar will continue to grow its connectivity, entertainment and safety service portfolio, enhancing Member experiences as they engage with the subscription services.Applies only to vehicles equipped with Chevrolet, GMC, or Cadillac infotainment systems. Does not apply to Vehicles with Google Built-In.OnStar plans and Wi-Fi data plans not available in all countries. See for equipped vehicles, service availability and system limitations.Requires OnStar equipped and activated vehicle. OnStar plans not available in all countries. Standard Connect does not include emergency or security services.Your vehicle will notify your preferred dealer when it’s time for a service.Requires OnStar equipped vehicle from MY21 or newer and an active OnStar plan or trial.Calls may be monitored or recorded for various Lawful Purposes, please view our Privacy Statement. OnStar Middle East Advisors are not trained medics.myChevrolet, myGMC and myCadillac apps are available on select Apple and Android devices. Service availability, features and functionality vary by vehicle, device and the plan you are enrolled in. User terms and limitations apply. Device data connection required. See for details.

MENA organizations, pace & turn corporate sustainability commitments into action

Bain & Company, a global consultancy, continues its collaboration with the World Government Summit as a knowledge partner sharing thought leadership with government officials from around the world.Bain & Company surveyed 100 organizational leaders across 11 countries and 8 industries to learn how the MENA region can advance its sustainability agenda. Bain’s research highlights key challenges, best practices and four essential steps to help organizations take a global LEAD on sustainability.Samer Bohsali, Senior Partner who leads the Public Sector practice at Bain & Company Middle East, said: “We found that while 70% of organizations in MENA say they integrate sustainability into their business models, only 3% are on track to achieve their sustainability goals.” Bohsali observes: “The gap between ambition and action occurs despite universal agreement on the case for change. More than 90% of executives believe their core business and operating models need to change to operate more sustainably.”Wissam Yassine, partner and leader in the Sustainability practice at Bain & Company Middle East added that: “As we asked ourselves ‘how do we bridge this massive gap between ambition and action’ we identified 4 things that best-in-class companies are doing differently which we summarized in the ‘LEAD’ framework.” Yassine further elaborated: “L stands for Linking sustainability to strategy. E for Engaging the full organization from the board to the frontline. A is about Activating sustainability through clear implementable missions. And lastly, D encourages Driving innovation.”Finally, Bain’s research revealed that governments play a key role in enabling the adoption of sustainable practices. Lana Kahaleh, a senior manager at Bain & Company Middle East observed: “The majority organizations surveyed believe government policies and interventions are critical for them to improve their sustainability practices, examples of which include capacity building and training and national standards.”

FP7McCann promotes Sondos Effat to Managing Director

FP7McCann, the leading creative agency in Egypt, has announced the promotion of Sondos Effat to the position of Managing Director.With an illustrious 14-year tenure at FP7McCann Cairo, Sondos has consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership and strategic prowess.Sahar Zoghby, CEO of MCN Cairo, says: “Sondos Effat’s journey within FP7McCann Cairo has been marked by outstanding achievements and a steadfast commitment to excellence. Having excelled in various roles within Account Management, she ascended to the role of General Manager five years ago, where her strategic acumen and business leadership skills shone brightly. Her ability to navigate client relationships seamlessly and build secure connections has positioned her as a notable figure in the Egyptian advertising industry.”Tarek Mikans, CEO, FP7McCann MENAT, said: “Throughout her career, Sondos has earned the trust of both the strategy and creative communities, solidifying her reputation as a respected and influential professional. Her promotion to Managing Director is a testament to her dedication, expertise, and significant contributions to the agency’s success. FP7McCann Cairois poised for continued success under Sondos Effat’s leadership, and her promotion marks a significant milestone in the agency’s journey”Sondos Effat said: “I eagerly anticipate leading the next chapter of the FP7McCann Cairo story, creating more history with the strongest team in Egypt.”

MKB Bespoke Audio unveils the Middle East’s first-of-its kind Experience Centre

MKB Bespoke Audio, known for delivering top-quality audio-visual solutions for home theatres, home automation, and private cinemas, has unveiled the Middle East’s first-of-its-kind Experience Centre. Catering to ultra-high net worth clients with a taste for exceptional audio-visual experiences and luxury entertainment, this centre sets a new standard in the region.MKB Bespoke Audio, headquartered in the UAE, is part of a group of companies with over 1,500 professionals across the UAE and India, with production facilities in India. Serving a clientele of over 6,000 in the UAE alone, MKB Bespoke Audio is a leader in delivering premium audio-visual experiences.Located along Sheikh Zayed Road in the Al Quoz area, the Experience Centre showcases cutting-edge home theatre and private cinema solutions featuring the world’s top 18 audio-visual brands such as KEF, Sony, Huawei, LOEWE, DENON, Bec Akustik, VIDEOTREE, Taga, Episode, Sherwood, Devialet and Alta Labs networking among others. Customers can sit in home theatre settings and experience different audio-visual effects before deciding on the best home theatre solutions for their homes – villas, mansions or private yachts – to experience the best. The company also excels in smart home automation, hotel room solution, outdoor television, bathroom TVs, etc. It is a one-stop solution provider for all automation controls – be it lighting, security, audio-visuals, heating, air-conditioning, etc – as demand for smart home automation is increasing day by day due to the fact that more and more families are moving in their own villas that necessitates a change in lifestyle amenities.Bhavin Kachalia, CEO of MKB Bespoke Audio LLC, says, “This marks the launch of the Middle East’s premier audio-visual Experience Centre, offering a truly one-of-a-kind immersive experience. We're witnessing a surge in demand from customers seeking bespoke solutions for their upscale residences, grand mansions, palaces, and luxury yachts. We bring the complete cinema theatre experience at home through our expert solutions.” “We don’t sell equipment or boxes. We offer customized solutions to the customers’ needs and tastes. We offer greater value than just the products. You can buy products off the shelf, but solutions need a completely different and personalized approach. It requires an understanding of the client’s tastes, choices and his or her lifestyle and in this business one size doesn’t fit all.”“This is an extension of what we offer – value-added audio-visual solutions – to our premium clients who deserve nothing short of excellence. Our aim is to provide them with a comprehensive overview of the diverse range of audio-visual and home automation solutions available, all under one roof, allowing them to immerse themselves in the experience before making their selection. For our clients, the experience itself holds paramount importance, and we are dedicated to ensuring they receive nothing but the best.” "Prior to designing and presenting our solutions, we meticulously assess our clients' spaces to offer them the most optimal solution. This personalised approach sets us apart from others.”The global home theatre systems market is experiencing robust growth, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19.2 percent, reaching US$32.48 billion in 2023, and projected to exceed US$66.16 billion by 2027, according to a report by Business Research Company."The surge in disposable incomes and the growing spending power of the middle class have significantly fueled the expansion of the high-end audio-visual systems market," the report highlights.The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the growth of the home audio-visual market, as individuals began to spend more time at home, leading to increased demand. The global home audio market is expected to grow from US$11.7 billion in 2022 to US$14.58 billion by 2028, with a CAGR of 3.7 percent during the review period.

Indian PM Modi to inaugurate first Hindu temple in the UAE

Abu Dhabhi’s first Hindu temple, the BAPS Mandir, will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, on February 14 during his two-day visit to the UAE. The BAPS Mandir is built on 27 acres of land gifted by the UAE leadership, emphasizing the close ties between India and the Gulf region. The temple's inauguration symbolizes harmony and cultural understanding between the two nations, religions, and communities. It reflects the commitment of both countries to fostering mutual respect and cooperation.The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, donated 13.5 acres of land for the construction of the mandir, showcasing the generosity and support of the UAE leadership.PM Modi's involvement in the project since 2015 underscores the importance of cultural diplomacy in India's foreign policy. The temple serves as a testament to the strong bilateral relations between India and the UAE.During his two-days visit, PM Modi will hold bilateral meetings with top UAE leaders, including President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Vice President, Ruler of Dubai, and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. These meetings aim to strengthen strategic partnerships and discuss key issues of mutual interest.PM Modi will also address the Indian diaspora at the 'Ahlan Modi' event, where he is expected to share his vision for India's development and engage with the diaspora community.PM Modi's visit to the UAE underscores the growing cooperation and friendship between the two countries, both at the diplomatic and cultural levels.

Local Planet launches in the MEA region with regional expertise

Local Planet, the world's largest privately-held media and communication agency network, has officially launched its operations in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region. Headquartered in Dubai, Local Planet MEA promises a potent combination of international expertise and regional knowledge.Strategic Partnerships Fuel Expansion:To ensure a successful local foothold, Local Planet MEA has partnered with established regional players:Tonic International: A leading creative marketing agency with extensive experience across the MEA.RMS Media: A specialist in media planning and buying across the Middle East.Curiosity Africa: Experts in integrating marketing technology solutions and providing data-driven insights.Together, these partnerships create a unique offering for clients in the region, combining global best practices with deep local understanding.Market Penetration and Growth:Local Planet MEA will operate across 63 regional markets with 37 offices strategically located in key countries like the UAE, KSA, Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. This wide reach ensures clients can tap into diverse audiences across the MEA landscape.Industry Leaders Express Optimism:Martyn Rattle, Global CEO of Local Planet, said: "We're thrilled to join forces with our valued partners to power Local Planet MEA. Their deep regional expertise is invaluable as we serve clients in this dynamic market."Arnaud Verchere, Group CEO of Tonic International and Chairman of Local Planet MEA, said: "Partnering with Local Planet marks a significant expansion for us. Our combined strengths will offer unparalleled solutions for brands across the MEA."Carine Conradie-Haffejee and Alexei Pashkov, Co-Founders of Curiosity Africa, said: "We're excited to contribute our data-driven approach and marketing technology expertise to Local Planet MEA, empowering clients to make informed decisions and achieve growth."Local Planet MEA's launch signifies a major development in the region's media and communication landscape. With its strong partnerships, comprehensive reach, and commitment to local expertise, Local Planet MEA is poised to become a key player in helping brands build meaningful connections with audiences across the diverse MEA region.

Grant Thornton UAE strengthens leadership with new partner appointments

Grant Thornton, a leading professional services firm, announced a series of partner appointments and promotions to further fortify its executive bench as it continues to accelerate its growth and expansion in the UAE.Imran Jaffer has been appointed as the Restructuring Advisory Partner and will lead the firm’s Financial Restructuring Advisory practice from the company’s flagship Abu Dhabi office, while Faizan Ahmed, has joined the Dubai Head Office as a partner in the Audit and Assurance practice, leveraging his auditing and financial proficiency to enhance Grant Thornton’s services in real estate, hospitality, and government-related entities.Neha Julka, with over 15 years of experience in Advisory and Corporate Finance, has been promoted to Advisory Partner, continuing to support the broader Financial Advisory practice of the firm. Mohamed ElKhashab, who has been promoted to Audit Partner, possesses over 17 years of experience in the industry, playing an instrumental role in providing audit services to organisations operating in the Middle East and internationally.All four industry leaders bring a wealth of sectorial knowledge and expertise to Grant Thornton and support its strong performance trajectory in the country. Being the core members of the leadership team, they will also be at the forefront of driving innovation, and excellence in client servicing while augmenting the firm’s current standing as a trusted partner of choice and value in the industry.Hisham Farouk, CEO, Grant Thornton UAE, said: “We are delighted to welcome Imran Jaffer and Faizan Ahmed to the Grant Thornton team and look forward to benefiting from the diverse perspectives they bring that will also enrich our capacity to positively drive progress for our clients and the firm. As an organisation committed to the development and career progression of our talent force, we are also happy to celebrate the promotion of Neha Julka and Mohamed ElKhashab who, in their new roles, will continue to deliver quality and value to the integrated services our clients require.”Previously Director of Business Restructuring Services (Deals Advisory) at PwC, Imran Jaffer brings diverse experience in banking, credit fund management, and advisory to Grant Thornton. He will work with listed and unlisted corporates; credit and distressed funds; as well as sovereign wealth and private equity.Faizan Ahmed, who joins Grant Thornton from Deloitte, has 18 years of industry experience in providing audit and assurance services for key sectors including real estate, hospitality, government-related entities as well as public rest entities and large family conglomerates. His expertise also spans guiding clients through IPOs and debt-raising processes. A results-oriented professional, Neha Julka has honed her financial advisory acumen with a proven track record of delivering quality and reliable analysis to regulators, government backed entities, large conglomerates, family offices and SMEs alike in addition to conducting comprehensive valuations, financial modelling and M&A mandates spanning a wide range of industries, including financial services, hospitality, F&B, logistics, among others.Mohamed ElKhashab has umpteen knowledge and understanding of International Financial Reporting Standards “IFRS” & International Public Sector Accounting Standard “IPSAS”,COSO compliance, Internal Controls Over Financial Reporting (ICFR), financial due diligence and is credited with building Grant Thornton's public sector presence and profile in Abu Dhabi.With a remarkable legacy of over 55 years in the country, Grant Thornton UAE recently inaugurated a flagship office in Abu Dhabi, catering to the growing needs of its clientele in the capital, and contributing to its consistent double-digit year-on-year growth over the last five years. The firm currently maintains four offices in the UAE and has a dedicated team of over 700 professionals.

New Mobile Satellite to advance global connectivity for Direct-to-Device & IoT

Viasat, Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), Terrestar Solutions, Ligado Networks, Omnispace and Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PJSC (Yahsat), today announced the Mobile Satellite Services Association (MSSA). MSSA will bring significant scale and choice to promote and advance the emerging Direct-to-Device (D2D) ecosystem.MSSA seeks to develop a global ecosystem utilizing over 100 MHz of L- and S-band spectrum already allocated and licensed for mobile satellite services (MSS), which is well-suited for integration into a broad range of mobile devices. The non-profit industry association intends to align with 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards to extend terrestrial mobile coverage for both Mobile Network Operator (MNO) and Over-the-Top (OTT) internet services.MSS licensed spectrum advantages include: enabling existing space networks to immediately offer Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) services; an existing international regulatory framework; no interference with terrestrial networks; and more spectrum to advance 5G New Radio (5G-NR) services. MSS spectrum enables all MNOs to offer space/terrestrial integration in their entire service area without having to sacrifice terrestrial spectrum.By aligning their expertise, along with other ecosystem partners, the founding members support integrating terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) to deliver scalable, sustainable, and affordable connectivity to any device, anytime, anywhere. Emerging D2D services can expand connectivity and enable competition across multiple large and diverse segments, including cellular, industrial, government, agriculture, automotive, and others. The Association will foster a D2D ecosystem of solutions providers including terrestrial mobile and satellite operators, OEMs, infrastructure, chip vendors, and others.“Integrating satellite connectivity into consumer mobile devices is a transformative opportunity for the satellite industry. As a coalition of leaders with a unified voice, MSSA will be a driving force in making this new marketplace a reality, while respecting the rights of nations to meaningfully engage and retain sovereignty in a rapidly growing space economy,” said Mark Dankberg, Chairman of MSSA, and Chairman and CEO of Viasat. “The Association will help create opportunities to scale NTN systems via open, standards-based solutions for D2D and IoT. We believe this can be done while preserving critical MSS aviation and maritime safety services and by expanding the markets supporting diverse users through substantial improvements in speed, bandwidth, availability, interoperability and affordability.”MSSA is focused on achieving the following fundamental goals:Unlocking interoperable architectures and standards for use in multi-orbit satellite systems, ground infrastructure, and end user equipmentEnhancing seamless global roaming between terrestrial and multi-orbit satellite networks through the development of recommended specificationsAchieving scale through improved coordination and cooperation mechanisms among MSS operators to maximize the utility of over 100 MHz of already available and licensed global MSS spectrum in nations desiring advanced NTN servicesMaximizing scarce multi-orbit space and spectrum resources and employing sustainable network design and operation to enable affordable advanced NTN servicesAdvocating for policies, laws and regulations, including those related to rational, efficient, safe and sustainable uses of spectrum and orbits, and where appropriate, objective and quantitative metrics regarding all objects in orbit around EarthProviding a neutral forum for coordination of 3GPP NTN and other international standards activitiesSupporting the integration of space networks into national telecommunications infrastructure via trusted local partners and within sovereign regulatory and national security frameworksSupporting mechanisms for individual nations to participate in the new space economy via open standards and architectures, and via the space networks supported by MSSAFor more information on the formation and mission of MSSA, visit the Association’s website: connect with an MSSA spokesperson at MWC 2024 (Press or Prospective members), please schedule a meeting via: Founding Member Comments:Jacques Leduc, President and CEO of Terrestar Solutions, highlighted, “Terrestar is proud to be a founding member of the Mobile Satellite Services Association, which promises to be a game-changer for all in remote areas by making mobile satellite service fill the connectivity gaps affecting close to one third of the Canadian population and many others around the world. As we leverage our existing satellite assets, and pool our efforts with world-class partners, direct-to-device services will soon ensure seamless global coverage and chart a path toward a digitally inclusive Canada, ensuring safety, innovation, and connectivity for every corner of our country. Recognizing that accessibility to everyday communication, wherever you are, is not a luxury but an essential service, we are committed to bridging the gap and making this fundamental right a reality for all Canadians and others around the world.”“Ligado looks forward to working within the MSSA to bring our mobile satellite spectrum and network resources to bear in the North American market. D2D satellite services developed on the basis of the L- and S-band NTN ecosystem will deliver the highest performance, leveraging the superior assets and experience of MSSA member operators,” said Doug Smith, CEO of Ligado.“In the past Omnispace has taken a leadership role in evolving terrestrial standards to enable non-terrestrial networks. Now with our industry partners we will be able to accelerate the development and optimization of spectrum and technologies designed to improve the lives of everyone on Earth,” said Ram Viswanathan, President and CEO, Omnispace. “We are pleased to join as a founding member of the MSSA, which can only further our industry’s ability to offer game-changing D2D global voice, text and data solutions to billions of users, devices and industries worldwide.”“We are delighted to become the one and only satellite operator from the MENA region amongst MSSA’s founding members of leading satellite operators globally. The establishment of this new association is in line with our efforts to advocate the integration between satellite connectivity and terrestrial networks. This integration is crucial to harness the power of spacetech and accelerate the growth of emerging sectors particularly, Internet of Things (IoT) and Direct to Device (D2D). Both sectors are key pillars of Yahsat’s growth strategy,” said Ali Al Hashemi, Group CEO of Yahsat.

Visit Qatar and Qatar Airways promote Qatar as the ultimate tourism destination

Visit Qatar and Qatar Airways announced the launch of stopover flight packages in Doha, as part of their joint efforts to promote Qatar and strengthen its position as a premier tourist destination to be added to passengers’ targeted destination, during a press conference chaired by His Excellency Mr. Saad bin Ali Al Kharji, President of Qatar Tourism, and Engineer. Badr Mohammed Al Meer, CEO of Qatar Airways Group, in the presence of a group of international media representatives as part of an extensive familarisation trip to Doha, at Msheireb, Downtown Doha.Visit Qatar plays a crucial role in promoting Qatar as a premier travel destination and preserving its cultural heritage. Visit Qatar actively collaborates with government entities to facilitate partnerships and encourage private sector investments to ensure the growth of the hospitality and tourism sectors. Aligned with Qatar National Vision 2030, Visit Qatar is dedicated to enhancing the country's tourism infrastructure, promoting sustainable development, and fostering cultural exchange.Commenting at the press conference, H.E. Mr. Saad Bin Ali Al Kharji, Chairman of Qatar Tourism said: “The 'Stopover in Qatar' offering is an embodiment of continuity of the cooperation between Qatar Tourism and Qatar Airways providing travelers the opportunity to expand their destination experience and explore this remarkable country. Recognising the richness and diversity of Qatar's tourism, we believe that the 'Stopover in Qatar' package will be highly valuable for tourists with limited time”.He added: “It is imperative to highlight that in 2023, the number of travelers and hotel room nights for stopovers in Qatar more than doubled compared to 2022 as a direct result of Qatar Airways flying to over 177 international destinations. January 2024, witnessed another remarkable achievement with over 700,000 visitors, setting a new monthly record, we are continuing this growth, with the aim of welcoming six million annual visitors by 2030. These statistics underscore the significant accomplishments and momentum of Qatar's tourism sector, solidifying its status as a leading premier international destination”.He concluded: “Qatar will grow and improve assets and attractions as we will witness the unveiling of new attractions, such as the Meryal Waterpark and Ras Abrouq. Visit Qatar emphasizes its keenness in providing overall Service Excellence for visitors to have a well-rounded Middle Eastern experience in one accessible, safe, and must-visit destination”.Through Discover Qatar (DQ), Qatar Airways’ destination management company, passengers can now choose one of the stopover flights, which enhances Doha’s presence as an ideal stopover destination thanks to its abundance of tourist experiences and unique benefits.Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer, Engr. Badr Mohammed Al Meer, said: “Our 2024 network expansion offers a very exciting summer schedule, which includes our resumption to Venice and our new route to Hamburg, along with increased frequencies on various international routes. We are committed to creating unforgettable travel experiences which will transform transit time as well as the airport experience itself. Looking ahead to the future, I am confident that Qatar is set to become the top stopover destination globally.”Qatar Airways’ goal aims to make Doha a must-see stopover destination with one-of-a-kind travel experiences. Visit Qatar and Destination Qatar’s stopover packages offer five exciting options at over 100 hotels for travellers embarking on their journey on Qatar Airways’ network of over 170 destinations:Standard: choice of 4-star hotels, is the best value stopover package with over 100 hotels in the network offering 24 hours check in and prices starting at $14 per person per night.Premium: choice of 5-star hotelsPremium with Beach Access: choice of 5-star hotels with access to Doha Sands Beach, West BayLuxury: choice of 5-star luxury hotels including breakfastAll-Inclusive Beach: choice of 5-star hotels including breakfast and all-inclusive beach access to Doha Sands Beach, West BayAll stopover packages include 24-hour check-in facilities so guests can make the most of their time in Qatar and can be tailored to add-on options including airport assistance, transfers and a range of tours and experiences to enhance their stay, such as City and Desert Tours.You can get more information about stopover travel packages: the press conference, Qatar Airways presented its network expansion, summer schedule, and exciting places to visit for short- and long-term stays. The airline’s resumption to Venice, and its new route to Hamburg aims to garner an influx of international travellers to pass through the Best Airport in the Middle East, Hamad International Airport. This offers a chance for transit passengers to add Doha as a layover destination through DQ’s stopover packages. Visit Qatar and Qatar Airways also hosted the media in the airline-owned luxury resort, “Our Habitas Ras Abrouq”. Located at the edge of the UNESCO protected Al-Reem Biosphere Reserve, Our Habitas Ras Abrouq brings the Our Habitas global hospitality group's award-winning luxury for the soul experience to Qatar. The partnership between Our Habitas and Qatar Airways allows luxury travellers seeking new experiences to discover the country's natural wonders. Qatar Tourism will also closely collaborate with Our Habitas to deliver transformative travel experiences through art exhibits, unique pop-up dining experiences, innovative wellness offerings, concerts, and more.és-ordóñez-as-global-chief-creative-officer

FCB names Andrés Ordóñez as Global Chief Creative Officer

Andrés Ordóñez has been appointed as the Global Chief Creative Officer for FCB, succeeding Susan Credle, who has been named Creative Advisor for FCB’s parent company, Interpublic Group of Cos.Credle will continue to serve as Creative Chair within the FCB network until 2024, collaborating with Ordóñez to ensure a smooth transition.Andrés Ordóñez, hailing from Bogotá, Colombia, not only boasts an impressive creative background but also serves as a catalyst for growth within the FCB network. Since his arrival at FCB Chicago in 2019 from Energy BBDO, where he held the position of Chief Creative Officer, the office has significantly expanded its client base, securing contracts with 40 new brands such as Danone, Terminix, and the United States Postal Service.Furthermore, Ordóñez was appointed as the Lead Creative Partner for Pfizer in May of last year, a significant achievement considering Pfizer's prominence as a key provider of COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots. This partnership marked one of the agency's major account acquisitions in 2023.In response to his new role, Ordóñez praised Credle for her efforts in fostering the FCB brand and cultivating a culture that attracts top talent. He expressed his intention to work alongside Global CEO Tyler Turnbull to bolster the global network and demonstrate to clients that creativity drives business growth.Tyler Turnbull, Global CEO, emphasized FCB's commitment to empowering individual agencies to excel independently, stating that this approach will remain unchanged. He underscored the importance of continuous growth and innovation, a philosophy instilled by Credle, and highlighted the agency's focus on supporting its teams to produce outstanding work.The appointment of Ordóñez reflects FCB's dedication to maintaining its reputation for creativity and fostering collaboration across its network under the leadership of Turnbull and Ordóñez.

DEWA’s virtual employee ‘Rammas’ enriches customers’ experience using AI

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)’s virtual employee ‘Rammas’, which uses generative Artificial Intelligence (AI), enriches the customer experience thanks to its superior ability to interact with users, better understand their needs and enquiries, and respond promptly and accurately in both Arabic and English, while ensuring a safe and practical experience. DEWA is the first utility globally and UAE government entity to use generative AI to interact with customers and answer their queries.In 2023, Rammas answered 1,835,179 enquiries, an increase of 39% compared to 2022, when he answered 1,319,708 enquiries. Since its launch in 2017, Rammas has responded to more than 8.5 million enquiries through DEWA’s various communication channels.“We are keen to provide DEWA’s services according to the highest standards of availability, reliability, efficiency, and quality by utilising the disruptive technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We attach great importance to investing in AI technologies to advance services and enhance DEWA’s position locally and globally regarding customer experience and service accessibility. Using generative AI in DEWA’s virtual employee Rammas enriches the customer experience with its ability to learn, understand and analyse customer needs based on available data and information,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA.In addition to its ability to learn, Rammas facilitates transactions and provides information through direct interaction from the list of services or direct questions. It provides 11 procedural services, such as EasyPay and DEWA Store offers. It also offers information on 200 services and features for all stakeholders, including customers, developers, suppliers, partners and others.Generative AI is a form of AI that can produce text, images, and various content based on its training data. DEWA started using ChatGPT, one of the most widespread applications of generative AI, since April 2023 on its website and smart app through Rammas,

Etihad Airways takes flight as official sponsor of Chennai Super King

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is delighted to announce its exciting new venture as the official sponsor for the Chennai Super Kings. The partnership was revealed during a special ceremony held in CSK’s home city of Chennai.Welcomed by 2,000 enthusiastic fans, the 'unveiling event' was held at Kalaivanar Arangam, in the presence of team officials and Chennai Super Kings’ players, who joined Etihad cabin crew onstage wearing their new jerseys proudly displaying the airline’s logo.As part of this partnership, Etihad aims to elevate the fan experience by engaging in exciting activities, promotions, and unique initiatives throughout the upcoming season. Fans can expect a thrilling journey with Etihad as they support the Chennai Super Kings in their quest for victory.The Etihad partnership will come to life across Chennai Super Kings’ events and platforms, with Etihad showcased on the back of the Chennai super Kings’ jersey, through engaging activations and fan activities at events and matches, as well as offering exclusive deals to Chennai Super Kings’ fans. Arik De, Chief Revenue and Commercial Officer at Etihad Airways, expressed his enthusiasm about the partnership: "Today marks the start of an extraordinary journey as we welcome the Chennai Super Kings to our sports portfolio. Cricket's global resonance unites diverse communities, reflecting the shared values of Etihad and Chennai Super Kings. Our collaboration goes beyond sponsorship; it's a celebration of a shared ethos, a testament to the collective spirit of Etihad and the Chennai Super Kings.“Cricket in India is truly incredible and the Chennai Super Kings fans really showcase exactly what it means to love and have true passion for the game in this incredible country. For Etihad, we believe in connecting with our travellers through shared interests, and like the ‘Yellow Army’ we really believe in this team. As we embark on this thrilling journey, we anticipate not only creating unforgettable moments for fans and travellers but also forging a powerful connection that transcends boundaries and elevates the spirit of the game to new heights.” Kasi Viswanathan, Chief Executive Officer, Chennai Super Kings said: “In Etihad Airways we have a partner that not only shares ours values, commitment to excellence and passion for success but also brings association benefits that are global in nature for our brand. This collaboration goes beyond the boundaries of a traditional sponsorship – it's about creating an extraordinary experience for our fans and setting new standards in sports partnerships."“The Etihad - Chennai Super Kings partnership promises to deliver a series of exciting initiatives, engaging activations, and unique fan experiences throughout the cricketing season. Stay tuned as we embark on a journey to redefine the dynamics of sports sponsorships and leave an indelible mark on the world stage.”This strategic collaboration solidifies Etihad's commitment to the Indian market and its dedication to fostering meaningful connections with the vibrant communities of India. It brings together the world-class travel experiences of Etihad and the prowess of the Chennai Super Kings, creating a winning combination that resonates with fans and travelers alike.Etihad provides a total of 165 weekly flights to 10 Indian cities, connecting Indian passengers to more than 70 destinations worldwide. Recently the airline launched two new routes to Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram, and also increased Mumbai and Delhi frequencies from two flights to four flights per day.The Etihad - Chennai Super Kings partnership follows closely on the heels of Etihad's announcement of Bollywood superstar Katrina Kaif as its brand ambassador. This dynamic combination of cricketing prowess and Bollywood glamour reinforces Etihad's commitment to connecting with diverse audiences across India.

BeIN SPORTS to spotlight the world’s best female tennis players

beIN SPORTS (‘beIN’), the leading sports broadcaster in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), will spotlight the world’s best female tennis players once again when it broadcasts the WTA 1000 Qatar TotalEnergies Open next week live from Doha’s Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.Between 11-17 February, beIN will broadcast approximately seven-and-a-half hours of live coverage daily with Arabic commentary and studio analysis on beIN SPORTS 7, as well as live tournament coverage with English commentary on beIN SPORTS 2 ENGLISH. Fans will also be able to enjoy daily Arabic programming including 26-minute highlights episodes, daily mini-matches and a trio of five-minute fillers.beIN’s coverage starts this Sunday, 11 February, with an hour-long preview show from 14:30 MECCA, followed by on-court coverage from 15:30 until 22:00 MECCA. The following four days will see live coverage run in Arabic and English from 15:00 MECCA until 22:00 MECCA, with coverage of Friday’s singles semi-finals and doubles final starting slightly later at 16:30 MECCA and coverage of Saturday’s singles final starting from 17:30 MECCA.Presented by Areej Sleem, the trailblazing beIN journalist and first female Arab presenter to cover all four Grand Slam tournaments, the broadcaster’s coverage will also feature esteemed guest commentators including former tennis professionals such as Tunisia’s second-highest ranked female of all time Selima Sfar, Kuwait’s Adel Al Shatti, and Saudi Arabia’s Fahad Al Saad and Morocco’s Anass Lamrani.beIN’s comprehensive coverage of the elite women’s tournament, which the broadcaster has been airing across MENA for 20 years, provides a further example of beIN’s commitment to its beINSPIRED initiative, which celebrates the value that all sports, and women’s sport in particular, play in the international sports eco-system.This year’s WTA 1000 Qatar TotalEnergies Open will feature 11 Grand Slam winners, including two-time defending champion and World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, as well as last month’s Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka, who won in Doha in 2020. Arab No. 1 Ons Jabeur, a two-time quarterfinalist in Doha, will also be in action as the Tunisian returns to a tournament, where she has enjoyed de facto home-court support in previous years.

EROS introduces its first in-house electronics brand Krome

EROS Group proudly introduces Krome, its in-house home appliances brand, bringing a touch of economical luxury to the UAE market.Krome, a revolutionary line of appliances, seamlessly combines cutting-edge technology with sleek design aesthetics. With over 56 years of industry expertise, EROS Group leverages its deep understanding of consumer needs to bridge the gap for UAE residents, delivering a brand that resonates with their aspirations and desires.Krome's debut lineup includes Refrigerators, Cookers, Water Dispensers, Gas Stoves, and Air Conditioners, each meticulously crafted to meet the unique demands of contemporary living. Positioned as a beacon of economical luxury, Krome offers sophistication at an accessible price point, setting new standards in the home appliances sector.“Drawing from EROS Group's extensive 56-year journey in the electronics and home appliances sector, Krome reflects our deep understanding of the preferences and needs of UAE residents. It is a purposeful creation tailored to meet the distinctive requirements and aspirations of our community," stated Mohammed Badri, Director of EROS Group.As Ramadan approaches, Krome emerges as an ideal kitchen solution for individuals hosting iftar parties. The efficiency and contemporary design of Krome appliances align seamlessly with the spirit of Ramadan, providing households with a touch of luxury during this special season.Krome products are available across EROS stores in the UAE, on, and on, and at selected retailers and dealers across UAE. "Our online platforms provide a convenient and user-friendly experience for customers to explore and purchase Krome appliances. We are very careful in putting together a very well curated collection of home appliances that are suited perfectly to match the needs of UAE customers.” added Mr. Badri.

G42 to lead AI discussions at World Governments Summit in Abu Dhabi

G42, the leading UAE-based technology group, announced its role as the AI headliner and Leading Partner at this year’s World Governments Summit. G42 and its Portfolio Companies will engage in conversations alongside international leaders about the future of AI and its role on a global scale.The annual World Governments Summit convenes governments, international organizations and business figureheads to identify ways to propel international cooperation and transform governments via innovation and technological advancements. G42 and its Portfolio Companies are uniquely positioned to engage in these conversations given their cross-industry expertise and specialized AI applications that can be adopted by decision-makers worldwide. In 2024, the Summit will discuss the theme of “Shaping Future Governments,” where political leaders, international organizations, and private sector entities from around the globe will identify solutions for current and future social, economic, political challenges. G42 will drive the conversation, with executives from its ecosystem participating in discussions focused on responsible AI, healthcare advancements, the future of mobility, scientific discoveries, and government services.Attending G42 executives and the discussions they are part of include:Peng Xiao, Group CEO, G42, will talk about the role of AI in shaping the global economic landscape.Talal Al Kaissi, EVP, Chief Product & Global Partnerships Officer, Core42. will be discussing how to develop responsible AI for nations.Hassan Jasem Al Nowais, MD and Group CEO, M42, will talk about how to revolutionize health through technology and how to drive healthcare innovation through strategic partnerships.Hasan Al Hosani, MD, Bayanat, will engage in conversations about the future of mobility and the role geospatial intelligence plays in creating safer cities and communities.Dr. Andrew Jackson, EVP, Chief AI Officer, Core42, will delve into the latest AI advancements and applications.Thomas Pramotedham, CEO, Presight, will be speaking about optimizing government efficiency with big data analytics and GenAI.Hassan Alnaqbi, CEO, Khazna will be discussing the latest sustainability developments in the construction, design and operation of data centers.Peng Xiao, G42 Group CEO: “Every year, the World Governments Summit brings together the world’s most eminent thought leaders and officials to bolster international cooperation to power meaningful change. As a global leader in AI innovation, G42, along with our Portfolio Companies, is proud to play a prominent role in this year’s Summit as we collectively discuss ways to propel humanity forward through disruptive technologies.”

Disney unveils bold initiatives, to launch sports streaming service

The Walt Disney Company has unveiled a host of initiatives and partnerships aimed at transforming the landscape of digital entertainment and gaming.Under the leadership of CEO Bob Iger, Disney's first quarter earnings for 2024 showcased a robust performance, underpinning the company's ambitious plans for sustained growth and innovation.ESPN was a major focus Wednesday with a number of key announcements that showcased the evolution of the sports network. Iger noted that ESPN “continues to deliver meaningfully for the company and will be a key value driver in the future.”Among the key highlights:1. ESPN's Digital Evolution: Disney, in collaboration with Fox and Warner Brothers Discovery, is set to launch a new streaming sports service in fall 2024. This joint venture will provide consumers with unparalleled access to a comprehensive suite of sports channels and content, catering to the evolving needs of sports enthusiasts.2. Disney's Entry into Gaming: Disney announced a groundbreaking relationship with Epic Games, heralding a transformative union between Disney's storytelling prowess and Epic's cultural phenomenon, Fortnite. This venture promises to redefine the gaming experience, offering fans an immersive universe where they can engage with beloved Disney brands and franchises in innovative ways.3. Taylor Swift Exclusive on Disney+: Disney+ will become the exclusive streaming platform for Taylor Swift's historic concert film, "Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour (Taylor’s Version)." Scheduled for release on March 15, this collaboration underscores Disney's commitment to delivering compelling content to audiences worldwide.4. Moana Sequel and Studio Slate: Disney revealed plans for a feature-length animated sequel to the beloved film Moana, slated for release in November. This announcement is part of Disney's commitment to delivering captivating storytelling experiences to audiences of all ages.Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, expressed his enthusiasm for these developments, stating: “Ultimately, our mission is to make ESPN into the preeminent digital sports brand, reaching as many sports fans as possible and giving them even more ways to access the programming they love, in whatever way best suits their needs. One way will be through the new streaming sports service coming this fall that we announced yesterday in conjunction with Fox and Warner Brothers Discovery. This service will bring together our collective portfolios of sports channels and direct-to-consumer services – on a non-exclusive basis – providing consumers with more of the sports they want in a single place.”

The Idea Agency partners with hospitality brands for PR and comm service

The Idea Agency, an integrated communications and marketing agency, has recently expanded its portfolio by partnering with hospitality, lifestyle, and luxury brands in the middle east region. The agency's recent account wins include prominent names in the hospitality sector, such as Th8 Palm Dubai Beach Resort (a Vignette Collection property under IHG), InterContinental Durrat Al Riyadh Resort & Spa, and Wirgan Makkah Al Azizieh and Wirgan Makkah Al Noor hotels. Additionally, they have secured La Gita in the hospitality sector, Kartell in the retail segment, and Hysek in luxury watches.Rita Boustany, the Managing Partner of The Idea Agency, expressed pride in these new associations and highlighted the agency's commitment to long-term business relationships, noting that many clients have been with them for over a decade.The agency's dedication to its existing clients remains unwavering, with continued service to leading brands across various categories. These include destination marketing for the Ajman Department of Tourism Development and Ajman Museums, as well as hospitality services for Grand Millennium Al Wahda and Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa. The agency also caters to luxury retail brands such as Western Furniture, Natuzzi Italia, and a Dubai-based furniture manufacturing company.With these new partnerships and continued commitments, The Idea Agency is poised for further growth and expansion of its services in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Alex Aiken transitions from UK Government Comms Chief to UAE ministry role

After a distinguished 12-year tenure within the Civil Service, Executive Director of UK Government Communications, Alex Aiken, has announced his departure to embark on a new chapter as a communications advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE. His transition is scheduled for April.In his new capacity, Aiken will serve as a trusted advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, collaborating closely with Afra Mahash Alhameli, the ministry's director of strategic communications.Simultaneously, Aiken's wife, MP Nickie Aiken, has revealed her decision to step down at the upcoming General Election, slated for later this year.Aiken's illustrious career includes spearheading the 2014 establishment of the Government Communication Service (GCS), a pivotal professional entity representing over 7,000 communicators within the UK civil service. Under his leadership, the GCS has set a global benchmark for excellence in public sector communications.He further elaborated on the scope of his upcoming role, emphasizing its multifaceted nature, encompassing storytelling, communications counsel, and strategic evaluation. Aiken expressed genuine excitement about this next phase of his career.Having served under five Prime Ministers across four administrations, and navigating through myriad national events including elections, referendums, and global crises, Aiken feels a sense of fulfillment in his contributions. He remarked that he is honoured to have served the Cabinet Office and collaborated with countless dedicated colleagues. The Cabinet Office affirmed that Aiken's transition adheres to established protocols, having undergone rigorous vetting under the Cabinet Office Business Appointment Rules. Plans for appointing Aiken's successor within the GCS will be unveiled in due course.Notably, in 2021, Simon Baugh was appointed as the GCS's inaugural CEO, while Aiken retained his position as executive director with a focus on national security and international affairs.Recognized for his exceptional contributions, Aiken received the Outstanding Individual Achievement award from PRovoke Media in 2022. His pivotal role in crafting the communications strategy surrounding the passing and funeral of Queen Elizabeth II underscored his leadership and strategic acumen.

Etoile Group to expand in GCC, to open six new stores

Dubai: Etoile Group, the luxury fashion retail group, today marked its 40th anniversary and shared expansion plans, including the launch of six new stores across the GCC in the first quarter of 2024. The Group’s strategic growth focuses on strengthening key partnerships while nurturing the next generation of talent to strengthen its luxury retail presence on a regional scale.This year, Etoile Group will open new stores in key locations across Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait. The group’s growth and expansion plans are underpinned by an ongoing commitment to digitalisation and sustainability with further investment in e-commerce platforms and ongoing collaborations with local and global designers. These efforts represent the Group’s wider plan to double its revenues and workforce within the next five years, leveraging its 60 ongoing and upcoming projects.Founder and President of Etoile Group, Ingie Chalhoub, said: “When I launched Etoile Group 40 years ago, we stepped into unchartered territory for luxury fashion retail. Over the last four decades the market has grown and matured and this region is now well established for luxury. I believe that Etoile Group played a pivotal role in that progress bringing some of the world’s most renowned luxury brands to the Middle East all those years ago and continuing to collaborate with global luxury brands and regional designers. Our success at Etoile Group stems from a history of strong client relationships and partnerships with brands who value innovation, design, and artisanship. That will continue in 2024, when we plan to further leverage key partnerships. This year is not just a celebration of our shared history but marks our commitment to ensuring the continued growth and dynamism of the luxury sector as we expand our regional footprint and provide platforms for creativity and innovation for emerging talent."Etoile Group's commitment extends beyond physical luxury retail environments to digital and e-commerce platforms, with plans to expand its omni-channel presence in 2024 as the group continues to innovate its e-commerce experience to increase interaction and engagement with its clients. Sustainable fashion represents another priority for the Group, evidenced by its partnerships and through its partnerships with an array of designers dedicated to sustainable practices. This year, Etoile Group will continue to prioritise procurement from partners and suppliers that are compliant with the rules of the Fashion Pact, a global initiative that was launched in 2019 and is aimed at reducing the fashion industry’s environment impact.2024 is set to be a landmark in Etoile Group’s history, driven by significant expansion, innovation, and a steadfast commitment to luxury.

Discovering Ahmed Elgebaly: From childhood dreams to media leadership

Adgully Middle East is proud to announce the launch of a new column, Offbeat Corner, dedicated to delving into the lives and insights of industry leaders. Our debut feature showcases Ahmed Elgebaly, Regional Head for MENA at Globale Media. In this exclusive interview, Ahmed opens up about his childhood career aspirations, life lessons learned, favorite books, noteworthy accomplishments, and more. Dive into the fascinating world of Ahmed Elgebaly and gain valuable insights into his journey.As a child, what career did you aspire to pursue when you grew up?Growing up, I’ve always wanted to be an athlete. I have always loved physical activity, and the competitive nature of sports. Sports impart valuable life lessons, like teamwork and discipline which shape up your personality at a very young age. Though you may underestimate its importance now, you'll come to understand its true value as you grow up.What has been the biggest life lesson?Life lessons are different for each individual. For me, I think learning from challenges and adapting to life every day are the big lessons. It’s part of the learning curve which enhances individual development but also helps me work effectively.What sparks your enthusiasm for the media?My enthusiasm probably stems from the fact that the media serves as a powerful tool for communication, and expression. It has the power to inform, educate, and connect the world, impacting individuals and society as a whole.If you had the opportunity to take a year-long break from work, how would you spend it?I love traveling and reading. So, I would probably spend my time on a relaxing journey all over the world. I would also like to utilize my break in learning new skills so that I don’t get rusty after such a long break.Could you suggest a must-read book for young people?My personal favorites are "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger and "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. They both share very similar thematic elements, especially for the young audience. To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic of modern literature. Despite talking about serious issues and societal challenges like inequality, it is known for its warmth so much so that it is even taught in schools and colleges.Reflecting on your experiences, what has been your most significant and enlightening mistake, and what lessons have you gained from it?Making mistakes is very normal, but it’s crucial to reflect on them and learn from them. By embracing mistakes as opportunities for learning, we can navigate challenges and build a strong foundation.What stands out as one of your most noteworthy accomplishments?Noteworthy accomplishments can widely vary. From personal achievements to professional milestones, depending on individual goals, there are always new goals and targets to achieve in life that never end. But to bounce back from setbacks, and persevere in the face of adverse challenges is one of my most noteworthy achievements.If given the chance, whose shoes would you step into for a day?I would definitely love to step into Elon Musk’s shoes for a day. Even though he is from a different industry background that I am not even familiar with, his life story and journey is almost unbelievable. When I read his story and how he split all his resources into both SpaceX and Tesla, I can only imagine what a nightmare it must have been for him to run two companies. And he still doesn’t want to stop after having created so many successful businesses. So, I would like to take on his role for a day.

Cenomi Centers to operate iconic new Barakah Mall in Makkah

Cenomi Centers announces the signing of a non-binding agreement with GIB Capital to operate the Barakah Mall in Makkah, which is set to open for business in 2026.Boasting a gross area of 80,000 sqm within a larger built up area of 250,000 sqm development and located strategically near Masjid Alharam and accessible to historical sites, the Barakah Mall aims to redefine the shopping experience in the Kingdom introducing an exceptional mixed-use development by seamlessly integrating retail, dining, and entertainment elements.Cenomi Centers as the leading owner, operator, and developer of contemporary lifestyle centers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is perfectly positioned to manage and operate this iconic world-class destination. Alpha Development, in partnership with FAS Holding Company and GIB Capital will lead on the development of the mall, utilizing their experiences in designing and building architectural masterpieces, in keeping with the important historical nature of this location.The development of Barakah Mall is the first phase of the two-phased Barakah Project, a mixed-use landmark in Makkah. This follows the signing of an agreement between GIB Capital and FAS Holding Company who established a new real estate fund, valued at SAR 4 billion, dedicated to the project.The MoU and future binding agreement will represent a milestone in Cenomi Centers’s strategy to grow its portfolio in the Kingdom. Using an “asset light” model, Cenomi Centers will leverage its expertise in successfully operating lifestyle destinations with no capex nor funding obligation towards the project.The Real Estate fund will lead the second phase, which will encompass 16 residential and hospitality towers that are designed to complement the retail component, creating a fully integrated experience for visitors and residents. The residential towers will feature luxury living spaces with advanced amenities and panoramic views, while the hospitality units aim to deliver world-class service, elegance, and comfort.Alison Rehill-Erguven, CEO, Cenomi Centers said: "We are honoured to be entrusted with the management of the Barakah Mall, an endeavour that extends beyond conventional retail. Our goal is to create a space where every visit is not just a shopping experience, but a journey filled with memorable moments. From retail to entertainment, the Barakah Mall will stand as a testament to our commitment to excellence and innovation.”Mr. Hatim Moumna, CEO and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Alpha said: "By combining our strengths and resources with GIB's strategic guidance and financial support, we aim to revolutionize the real estate sector in Saudi Arabia and contribute significantly to the nation's Vision 2030 objectives. Together, we are committed to launching innovative real estate projects that will not only shape the Kingdom's landscape but also foster community well-being and sustainable development."Osamah Mohammed Shaker, CEO of GIB Capital, said: “This agreement marks a significant milestone for us at GIB Capital as we aim to diversify portfolios in the Saudi market while offering unique investment opportunities and competitive returns to our clients.”

LG sets the stage for system air-conditioning excellence in Bahrain

LG Electronics (LG) held an exclusive event in Bahrain on February 6th, when it highlighted its continuous efforts to advance the HVAC sector, promoting innovative solutions that cater to evolving consumer needs. Attendees of the seminar at the Diplomat Radisson Blue Hotel in Manama gained insights regarding LG's strategic vision, product innovation, and the pivotal role Bahrain plays in LG's regional growth strategy. The event set the perfect stage to showcase LG's Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) solutions’ cutting-edge technology, which offers unmatched efficiency, comfort, and control for both commercial and residential spaces. Featuring advanced features like simultaneous heating and cooling, individual zone control, and energy-saving innovations, LG's VRF systems provide tailored climate solutions while reducing energy consumption and operational costs. With a wide range of indoor unit options, including sleek ducted units and versatile ceiling cassettes, LG ensures seamless integration into any environment.Furthermore, LG's VRF systems prioritize sustainability, boasting high SEER ratings and utilizing eco-friendly refrigerants to minimize environmental impact. With their commitment to innovation and sustainability, LG continues to redefine comfort and efficiency in HVAC solutions with their VRF offerings.Another focus of the seminar was LG’s Retrofit Solution and Inverter Technology. As Bahrain moves towards implementing sustainable building practices, retrofitting old HVAC systems is one of the key methods for achieving low energy consumption. LG has been at the forefront of providing solutions that support global environmental care mandates.LG’s inverter compressor technology ensures consistent temperature and airflow and has been proven to provide up to 50% electricity consumption savings over conventional air conditioners. Retrofitting enables parts of the recycled and reused existing frameworks to be utilized, saving not only initial costs but also long-term operational expenditures. Owing to the method’s ability to utilize existing infrastructure, retrofitting is a popular choice for decision-makers and business owners as it saves time, cost, and effort.The excitement surrounding the event was added to during the introduction of the newly appointed General Manager for the Gulf Region, Mr. Brandon Sung. Armed with a wealth of experience garnered in the Asia and Pacific markets, Mr Sung is poised to lead LG Gulf towards further growth and success."We are thrilled to welcome Mr. Brandon Sung to spearhead LG's endeavors in the Gulf region. His extensive experience in the Asia and Pacific markets position him as a key assetin continuing LG's upward trajectory," remarked Ahmad Abed, Sales Director Air Solutions B2B at LG Electronics Gulf.LG is committed to fostering partnerships, sharing knowledge, and collaborating to create a sustainable and comfortable future for consumers in Bahrain and beyond. This seminar marks a significant step in LG's journey towards solidifying its leadership in the System Air-Conditioning sector in Bahrain, said Mr. Brandon Sung, General Manager of Air Solutions B2B, LG Electronics Gulf.

Sharjah Media City receives a delegation from South Korea

His Excellency Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams), discussed cooperation with a delegation from South Korea, which included Guan Wang, CEO of the “Geng G” E-Sports Academy, and Heesuk Kang, Business Director. At Never-Z.The visit comes following the signing of Memorandums of Understanding between “Shams” and the Korean companies, which were witnessed at the time by His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of Sharjah Media Council.H.E Dr. Al Midfa welcomed the guest delegation, highlighting the role of Sharjah Media City “Shams” in developing Media and E-sports, making it a Hub of creativity that will nurture new generations of media professionals and E-sports enthusiasts who will be equipped with the necessary skills and expertise to compete in the labour market.Al Midfa accompanied the visiting delegation on a field visit to Shams, where they learned about its institutional experiences, smart media developments, ambitious expansion, sustainable success stories, available capabilities, and progressive opportunities for future generations.The delegation met with several officials at “Shams” who presented the various tasks undertaken by their departments, which helped the media improve the level of service and media performance. The two parties discussed the work mechanism intending to implement several joint projects during the current year in the fields of training and artificial intelligence.For its part, the Korean delegation praised the level of balanced services provided by “Shams” and the great media, technological, and training role it provides in the local arena, stressing that the future will witness fruitful cooperation between the Republic of South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.The delegation also participated in presenting several workshops at the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival, supported by Shams as a partner in media, creativity, and startup competitions, within the course of promoting growth within the field of entrepreneurship.

LuLu Group eyes $1 billion IPO, targeting growth and expansion

Dubai: LuLu Group International, the Middle East's leading hypermarket chain headquartered in Abu Dhabi, is reportedly exploring a potential initial public offering (IPO) that could raise at least $1 billion. This move signals the company's aspirations for further growth and expansion across the region.IPO plans confirmed: LuLu has officially invited banks to pitch for roles in its planned IPO, confirming earlier reports about a potential listing in 2024.Fundraising target: Initial estimates suggest the IPO could raise at least $1 billion, injecting fresh capital to fuel the company's growth ambitions.Multiple listing possibilities: While confirmed for the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), previous reports hint at a possible dual listing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, awaiting official confirmation.Global presence: With close to 260 stores across 26 countries, LuLu boasts a strong regional and international footprint, catering to diverse consumer needs.Financial strength: The company reports an annual turnover of $8 billion and employs over 70,000 people, showcasing its established market position and robust workforce.The Middle Eastern retail sector is anticipated to witness significant growth in the coming years, driven by factors like rising disposable incomes and burgeoning e-commerce. This scenario creates a favorable environment for established players like LuLu to expand their reach.Recent IPOs in the region, such as DEWA and ADNOC Drilling, have garnered strong investor interest. This bodes well for LuLu's potential offering, considering its brand recognition and established track record.Sustainability and e-commerce are emerging as key priorities for regional retailers. LuLu's initiatives in these areas can potentially enhance its attractiveness to investors.LuLu's planned IPO signifies its intention to leverage the growth potential of the Middle Eastern retail landscape. The success of the offering will hinge on the company's ability to articulate its expansion plans, address sustainability concerns, and capitalize on e-commerce opportunities. The IPO could propel LuLu's regional leadership and pave the way for further international expansion.

Bisleri enters the UAE market with exciting sports associations

One of India's leading packaged drinking water brands, Bisleri has recently launched in the UAE across major modern format retail chains, general trade outlets, restaurants, and cafes. In the past year, Bisleri has collaborated with some of the biggest sporting events and franchises in India as hydration partners. Using the similar strategy in UAE, Bisleri has forged tie-ups with one of the most prestigious international marathons in the world, “Dubai Marathon” and renowned ILT20 sports franchisees, including Sharjah Warriors, Dubai Capitals, MI Emirates, Gulf Giants, and Abu Dhabi Knight Riders.Commenting on the association, Tushar Malhotra, Head of Marketing, Bisleri International Pvt. Ltd., said, "We are delighted to start our foray into the UAE with sporting associations such as the iconic Dubai Marathon and partnering with some of the most exciting teams - Sharjah Warriors, Dubai Capitals, MI Emirates, Gulf Giants, and Abu Dhabi Knight Riders. This is in continuation of the robust sports marketing programme we have built in India. This exercise has helped in strengthening the connection between Bisleri, hydration and sports as we endeavour to promote a fit and healthier lifestyle for our consumers.”As the official Hydration Partner, Bisleri will play a pivotal role in ensuring the players and fans stay hydrated throughout the sporting events. The association will be further amplified with on-ground branding presence, visibility, consumer experiences and exciting digital content with partner teams to bring the association and fan-fare alive.

GameCentric unveils gaming tournaments with a AED 9500 prize pool

Dubai: Homegrown gaming platform GameCentric is set to ignite the gaming scene in the Middle East with a series of tournaments featuring a prize pool of USD 2600 (AED 9500). Running until the 21st of March 2024, this gaming extravaganza is attracting widespread attention from gaming communities, promising a thrilling gaming experience across popular game titles.Who: GameCentric, a leading gaming platform (Register for free only at A thrilling series of gaming tournaments with a USD 2600 (AED 9500) prize poolWhere: Online, through your mobile or laptops When: Running until the 21st of March, 2024How: Participants aged 13 and above can register for free on the GameCentric websiteGaming enthusiasts and novices alike can partake in the excitement by engaging in a variety of games, including FC 24 Mobile, BrawlStars, Rocket League, Clash Royale, Chess, Dominoes, Valorant, League of Legends, and PUBG. From intense action in popular titles to the strategic play of Chess and Dominoes, the tournament caters to a diverse gaming audience.Entry is open to all participants aged 13 and above, with a simple and free registration process on the GameCentric website.Saad, Founder & CEO of GameCentric and GamersHub, said: “Our vision is to align GameCentric’s energetic appeal with the ‘Dubai Program for Gaming 2033,’ propelling the region to become a top-tier global gaming hub. GameCentric’s cutting-edge platform provides an opportunity for gamers worldwide to showcase their skills and contribute to the program’s goal of generating a $1 billion incremental GDP impact. We aim to build a vibrant community of gaming talent, consisting of gamers, developers, and enthusiasts, empowering them to contribute to a greater cause.”Gear up for an electrifying online gaming tournament experience where participants have the chance to not only compete but also win exciting rewards. Secure your spot in your favorite game today and be part of the gaming extravaganza that is set to redefine the gaming landscape in the Middle East.

Savola Group to list Panda Retail, eyes growth in Saudi retail sector

Savola Group, a leading Saudi conglomerate with interests in food and retail, has announced its plans to list its subsidiary, Panda Retail Company, on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul). This move underscores the company's strategic focus on expanding its retail footprint and leveraging digital initiatives to capitalize on the growing Saudi retail market.Key takeaways:  • Unlocking shareholder value: The listing of Panda Retail aligns with Savola's strategy to create additional value for its shareholders. This follows the company's recent distribution of its stake in Almarai, another major player in the regional dairy industry.   • Positive financial performance: Panda Retail boasts a "healthy recovery in profitability," according to Savola's statement. The company plans to sustain this momentum by expanding its physical presence and embracing digital transformation.   • Market leader in Saudi Arabia: Panda Retail currently operates over 185 stores across Saudi Arabia, serving more than 90 million customers annually in both Saudi Arabia and Egypt.   • Rights issue to precede listing: Prior to the IPO, Savola plans to raise 6 billion riyals ($1.6 billion) through a rights issue. This capital injection will support the company's financial position and potentially facilitate debt reduction.    Saudi Arabia's retail market is projected to reach $268 billion by 2025, making it one of the fastest-growing retail markets globally. This growth is driven by factors such as a rising population, increasing disposable income, and a growing preference for online shopping.    Digitalization is becoming increasingly important in the Saudi retail sector. Savola's focus on digital initiatives reflects this trend, and the company has already launched several e-commerce platforms and mobile apps.    The IPO market in Saudi Arabia has been witnessing a surge in activity in recent years. This trend is expected to continue, driven by government initiatives aimed at diversifying the economy and attracting foreign investment. Overall, Savola's decision to list Panda Retail signifies its confidence in the potential of the Saudi retail sector and its commitment to capitalizing on growth opportunities. (Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay)

UAE consumers disenchanted by mobile apps offered by brands: AppsFlyer

AppsFlyer unveiled a new report which reveals that UAE consumers are easily disenchanted by the mobile applications offered by brands — the majority (56.44%) of Android1 applications are uninstalled within just 30 days of being downloaded. This figure is notably higher than that for more mature markets such as the United States and United Kingdom, where the average 30-day uninstall rate for Android apps stands at 46.76% and 47.82% respectively.Commenting on the implications of the above-average rate of app uninstallation in the country, Paul Wright, General Manager Western Europe and MENAT at AppsFlyer, said: “Research we conducted in early 2023 indicated that the vast majority (84%) of UAE business believe that mobile apps are a ‘must’ to stay relevant to their customers and consequently 9 in 10 UAE businesses now offer an app as a means of engaging with customers. However, as our latest research shows, earning, and then maintaining, a spot on customers’ smartphones is becoming immensely difficult. The harsh reality is that with a multitude of competitors and rising user expectations, apps that fail to deliver quickly and effectively are at an increasing risk of being uninstalled.”The company also shed light on which types of apps are most susceptible to rapid changes in user perceptions. Looking at non-organic installs — driven by successful conversions of marketing efforts — Lifestyle apps fared the poorest with 86% being deleted within 30 days. Even the top 10% of these applications suffered an uninstall rate of 50%. Interestingly, Finance, Shopping, and Food & Beverage applications all showed high uninstall rates for non-organic downloads at 70%, 66% and 62% respectively.These figures were all significantly better for apps that had been organically downloaded by users. In these instances, just over half (52%) of Lifestyle apps remained on users’ smart devices for over 30 days, while 58% of Finance apps, 64% of shopping apps and 46% of Food & Beverage apps achieved this desirable outcome. "Organic users have higher intent than non-organic users and therefore it is no surprise that across categories, their uninstall rate is much lower. That said, in the Middle East, for Android, non-organic instals account for the larger portion (55%) of all app installs. This significance of non-organic install cannot be overlooked. Rather, mobile marketers should recognise that their efforts cannot stop at simply driving installs. They need to work with other stakeholders to ensure that hard earned users are retained as this will yield greater ROIs on their campaign investments,” explained Wright.To enable app marketers to plan user retention campaigns more effectively, AppsFlyer worked to pinpoint exactly when users are dropping off the most. Globally, the company's data shows that the first day is when most users uninstall apps, likely the result of unmet expectations or false promises. Although all verticals display a similar trend over the first 30 days, Finance apps set the pace early on with 23% higher day 1 rates compared to the average of other verticals.“As the highest uninstall rate occurs on the first day, nailing the onboarding process becomes paramount. To reduce the uninstall rate within the first day and the first week, brands must ensure a seamless and engaging onboarding experience that fosters a strong and lasting connection with users," said Wright. "Moreover, as these high uninstall rates for UAE consumers demonstrate, brands should avoid over-promising in an attempt to maximise downloads, as it can lead to frustration and potentially damage your brand irreparably."

Impact BBDO and Brave Heart Fund launch groundbreaking promotional ad

The "Birth Days" promotion by Impact BBDO and Brave Heart Fund in Lebanon is a powerful initiative that aims to raise awareness and funds for pediatric heart surgeries. In Lebanon, where over 600 babies are diagnosed with heart disease annually, the campaign sheds light on the urgency of the issue, highlighting that one infant is diagnosed every 12 hours with a life-threatening condition.The campaign creatively utilizes the concept of birthdays to convey its message. By incorporating 4-digit numbers on birthday cakes, typically associated with celebratory milestones, viewers are prompted to question the significance behind them. Through a touching film showcasing children joyfully blowing out candles on these cakes, the campaign effectively juxtaposes the innocence of childhood celebrations with the harsh reality faced by children battling congenital heart disease.The QR code system implemented alongside the cakes allows people to easily donate to the cause, encouraging community participation and support. By emphasizing that every day lived by these young warriors is akin to a birthday, the campaign delivers a poignant reminder of the importance of celebrating life and rallying together to ensure that economic constraints do not prevent families from accessing critical surgeries.Moreover, the campaign extends beyond a mere call for financial assistance, aiming to foster a sense of unity within the community. By urging individuals to recognize and support the ongoing struggle faced by children with congenital heart disease, the initiative not only raises vital funds but also promotes empathy and solidarity in tackling this pressing issue.Overall, the "Birth Days" campaign is a heartfelt and impactful endeavour that effectively combines creativity with a noble cause, striving to make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and families affected by heart disease in Lebanon.

Jahez-Kuwait reveals the end of year draw grand prize winner

Jahez International Company (“Jahez-Kuwait”), a pioneering platform that connects customers with their favorite restaurants through online orders, concluding its end of year campaign, revealing the grand prize winner of the luxurious Lexus LX600 SUV. During the grand prize draw, Jahez-Kuwait announced Wejdan AlMutairi as the winner of the luxury SUV, a prize unparalleled in its magnitude amongst food delivery service campaigns in Kuwait. This achievement highlights the Company's dedication to customer appreciation but also sets a new benchmark for promotional giveaways in the industry.The winner of Jahez-Kuwait’s end of year campaign, Wejdan AlMutairi was selected at random in the draw that was run by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) representative, ensuring a fair and transparent process in awarding the grand prize of a brand-new Lexus LX600 SUV. This meticulous selection procedure was conducted under strict supervision, with every entry being given equal consideration to uphold the integrity of the draw. The electronic system used for the draw was designed to randomly select a winner from the multitude of entries, each representing an order placed through the Jahez-Kuwait app during the campaign period. Displaying the name of the lucky winner marked a momentous moment for both winner and Jahez-Kuwait, demonstrating the Company’s commitment to customer satisfaction and engagement.Throughout the campaign, Jahez-Kuwait reinforced its commitment to enriching the customer experience. Aside from the grand prize draw, Jahez-Kuwait organized a series of draws, which included chances to win a variety of substantial prizes. The draws were met with overwhelming enthusiasm from the Company’s valued customer base who were eager to win one of the valuable prizes. Over the campaign's duration, a total of KD10,000 in credit and KD40,000 in cash were awarded to lucky customers. A cash prize of KD10,000 was also awarded to one lucky winner in the first grand prize draw held towards the end of December.With the conclusion of the campaign, Jahez-Kuwait indicated in a statement that the Company aspires to strengthen its position in the Kuwaiti market by providing customers with a range of experiences that extend beyond its core services. Jahez-Kuwait formed numerous fruitful collaborations throughout 2023 with various restaurants, institutions and companies within the private sector to engage with its growing customer base. The Company has also effectively updated its mobile app to deliver exceptional value-adding services to its customers while introducing a variety of promotions. These initiatives, as well as activities such as the end of year campaign, align with the Company’s ethos, with the optimal goal of creating a comprehensive and enriched user experience. As Jahez-Kuwait continues to evolve, it remains committed to delivering innovative solutions and fostering a strong community connection, thereby solidifying its status as a leader in the food delivery industry in Kuwait.Faisal Alsaei, Marketing Manager at Jahez-Kuwait stated, “We at Jahez-Kuwait would like to thank our customers for the remarkable success of our end of year campaign and are delighted with the positive responses that we have received. Our objective in organizing this end of year campaign was to reward our loyal customers for selecting Jahez-Kuwait as their preferred food delivery service in Kuwait. It provided us with an opportunity to give back to customers by rewarding them with various prizes, along with an advanced app that offers unique features. On behalf of Jahez-Kuwait, I would also like to congratulate Wejdan AlMutairi on winning the grand prize, the luxurious Lexus LX600 SUV.”Alsaei added, “As Jahez-Kuwait moves forward, we remain dedicated to pioneering new standards in the food delivery sector. With our customer-centric approach and innovative solutions, we aim to continue shaping the future of food delivery in Kuwait, offering unparalleled convenience and exceptional experiences. Jahez-Kuwait’s unwavering dedication to customer satisfaction, combined with its ability to adapt and respond to changing market dynamics, positions us uniquely in the industry. In this regard, we will continue to introduce value-adding experiences that will enable us to engage with our customers on various levels.”It is worth mentioning that Jahez-Kuwait entered the competitive food delivery industry with an innovative approach that focuses on enhancing the delivery experience for customers and restaurants. By allowing customers to simply drop a pin for delivery without needing to enter an address, Jahez-Kuwait provides a seamless and intuitive experience that takes convenience to a new level. The platform further empowers its users with flexible payment options, offering the freedom to pay anytime, whether before or after delivery, putting the control squarely in customers' hands. Additionally, in collaboration with select partners, Jahez offers up to 50% off at some restaurants, providing unmatched value and making it a truly compelling choice for food delivery in Kuwait.

Hollywood maverick and Moon Knight actor Oscar Isaac to headline MEFCC

Middle East Film & Comic Con (MEFCC), the region’s largest pop culture festival organised in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, has revealed that Golden Globe-winning actor and producer Oscar Isaac will headline the all-star lineup of MEFCC 2024, taking place from 9-11 February at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.In an extraordinary journey spanning from the Star Wars saga to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the world of X-Men, Isaac has tackled an array of fan-favourite roles.It was his portrayal of X-wing fighter pilot Poe Dameron in the Star Wars sequel trilogy (2015–2019) that made Isaac an endearing global star and a household name. His role as the eponymous struggling folk singer in the musical drama Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) earned him a Golden Globe nomination, while he received a Golden Globe award for his performance in the HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero and an Emmy nomination for his role in HBO's Scenes from a Marriage.Marking Isaac’s introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe was Moon Knight, where he played the lead character in this six-episode series about a vigilante with an otherworldly connection to an Egyptian Moon God. This was followed by more iconic roles, where he voiced Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099 in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and Duke Leto Atreides in the Hollywood Blockbuster, Dune.Isaac’s presence in Abu Dhabi will be a thrill for MEFCC fans and patrons, with the Stanley Kubrick-inspired actor being a part of Meet the Stars attraction, where visitors can meet the headline celebrity, snap a selfie, and create the memory of a lifetime.The legendary Manga artist and creator of Captain Tsubasa, Yoichi Takahashi, will also be making his way to Abu Dhabi to delight life-long fans at MEFCC. Better known as Captain Majid in the Middle East, Takahashi’s manga has inspired generations of, not just anime and manga fans, but professional football players too including Messi, Zidane, Iniesta and many more. His impact on the region is quite evident, with so many fans having grown up with the franchise in the region, and it being one of the cornerstones for Anime’s popularity in the Middle East.The latest announcement and joining the headliner is Sophia Di Martino, portraying Sylvie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe television series, Loki. Di Martino was awarded ‘Breakthrough Performance’ and Best Team with Tom Hiddleston and Owen Wilson at the 2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards. Her standout performance and show-stealing charisma made her an absolute fan favourite, with viewers actively requesting for her role to be more prominent moving forward in the MCU.Toru Furuya joins Japanese Voice Actor Line-upToru Furuya is a legend in the Japanese voice-acting world, having made his debut at age 10 and played many famous characters over a fifty-year career. He is best known for voicing Tuxedo Mask in Sailor Moon, Amuro Ray in Mobile Suit Gundam, Yamcha in Dragon Ball, Sabo in One Piece, Pegasus Seiya in Saint Seiya, and Rei Furuya in Detective Conan. Besides these characters, Furuya has voiced over a hundred characters in the world of anime.MEFCC 2024 is also set to welcome a stellar line-up of voice actors, including Japanese actor, voice actor and singer Show Hayami; Frank Welker, the voice behind Transformers’ Megatron, Garfield and Scooby Doo; Peter Cullen, the voice actor behind Optimus Prime, the protagonist of Transformers; as well as American voice actor and musician Troy Baker.Simone Di Meo joins Comic Creator line-upAlso making his way to Abu Dhabi next week will be acclaimed comic creator Simone Di Meo. As a DC Comics exclusive artist, Di Meo is currently working on a new series for Batman and Robin and will regale the audience with the inside story of his acclaimed journey as a comic artist.Di Meo will join a star-studded line-up at this year’s event that includes legendary Brazilian comic creator Ivan Reis, and other acclaimed artists such as Mark Brooks, Carlo Pagulayan, Stephen Segovia, Steve McNiven, and Kode Abdo, also known as BossLogic.Ensemble cast at MEFCC 2024The ensemble cast of guest celebrities at the convention this year includes Olivier-nominated actor Taz Skylar and his One Piece co-star Iñaki Godoy. Also taking part this year are Harry Potter’s mischievous Weasley twins, James and Oliver Phelps, and iconic Star Wars actor Temuera Morrison.Ultimate fan experience at MEFCCBoasting a 12-year legacy of celebrating film, TV, sci-fi, anime, manga, gaming, comics and collectibles, MEFCC aims to create the ultimate fan experience in Abu Dhabi, with memorable attractions including the Comic Creators Club, where avid fans can get their own unique commissions; the Artist Alley, featuring local and regional emerging and established artists showcasing and selling their latest work; and the Gaming Arena, where enthusiasts can level up with the latest challenges.The Main Stage at MEFCC will host celebrity panels, interviews, community sessions and fan screenings, while the Festival Plaza is where visitors will get to enjoy live entertainment, music, activities, and lip-smacking food and beverages.

Ahmed Younis joins Publicis Groupe ME as Chief Creative Officer for Publicis KSA

Publicis Groupe Middle East announced the appointment of Ahmed Younis, more commonly known as Fizo in the industry, as its new Chief Creative Officer for Publicis Communications KSA, overseeing Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi. Recognised as one of the top 10 Creative Leaders in MENA, Fizo will drive the Groupe’s creative agenda in the Kingdom and foster collaborative teams that deliver extraordinary work for clients. Fizo has an impressive 25-year journey in creative leadership, digital strategy, social media marketing. His campaigns have left a significant impact on the advertising landscape in the region. Prior to joining Publicis Groupe ME, he served as the Head of Creative Strategy at Meta MENA, where he played a key role in developing strategies and campaigns that advanced digital marketing in the region. With direct experience leading global cross-functional teams, Fizo contributed significantly to generating millions of dollars in revenue for major moments like Ramadan and the World Cup.Commenting on the appointment Bassel Kakish, CEO, Publicis Groupe ME&T said, “Fizo, is one of the most celebrated creative leaders in this region and he has been instrumental in showcasing regional creative excellence globally. With Saudi Arabia fast emerging as a thriving creative hub, Ahmed taking the creative helm ensures we not only stay ahead of the curve but help define the creative narrative of the Kingdom. Under his leadership, we are well-positioned to deliver transformative work for our clients”. Before Meta, Fizo was with FP7 McCann Cairo for almost a decade where he worked on high-profile clients Coca-Cola, Orange, Nestlé, McDonald's, and the UN World Food Programme. He comes highly decorated winning awards from key shows like Cannes Lions, D&AD, MENA Effies, Andy’s and LIA. “It’s exciting to join a team I’ve admired for so long. The Groupe’s work has always inspired me, and this feels like a homecoming as everyone is so welcoming. I’m looking forward to utilising my creative leadership and experience to build stronger connections and drive success with our partners”, said Ahmed Younis, Chief Creative Officer, Publicis Communications KSA.

Merkle MENA appoints Sameer Poonja as first Head of Experience and Platforms

Merkle, dentsu’s leading technology-enabled customer experience management company, has today announced the key appointment of Sameer Poonja to the newly created Head of Experience and Platforms role. In his new position, Sameer will lead the Experience Platform capability for Merkle, with a focus on helping clients create omni-channel content-driven experiences. His responsibilities include delivering high quality, integrated experiences and championing the principles of headless content and digital asset management to deliver customised experiences. Sameer will lead the delivery of these outcomes by connecting the dots across Merkle’s pillars of analytics, data, CX, UX creative and performance marketing. Poonja is an experience pioneer, with several career highlights including launching Emirates Airlines' first consumer-facing application, building Canada's first wireless machine with Coca-Cola, and spearheading the launch of Canada's first cloud-based hotel management system. His entrepreneurial spirit also led him to co-found Spades, a contactless web-based dine-in solution, in response to the growing demand for frictionless payment experiences.Commenting on his appointment, Sameer remarked, "I am thrilled to join Merkle MENA and embark on this exciting journey of shaping transformative digital experiences. By focusing on the 'why' I believe we can redefine the boundaries of what’s possible in the region’s digital landscape. Merkle holds a distinctive position in the market, offering our clients a comprehensive blend of strategic insights, creative ingenuity, design and technical proficiency, and effective commercial strategies to advance their growth agendas." Prior to joining Merkle, Sameer served as a Senior Advisor at Roland Berger, where he played a pivotal role in establishing growth strategies for prominent entities such as Entertainer and various Saudi Government institutions. He has also demonstrated a commitment to fostering innovation and driving tangible results by mentoring, incubating, and accelerating new entrants on the Fintech Fast Track Program while leading Innovation, Partnerships and Design for Visa CEMEA. Andreas Skopal, Managing Director Merkle MENA said, “Sameer brings unparalleled experience and a proven track record in strategy, experience platforms and innovation. I have no doubt that under his guardianship we will be able to set new standards in digital experience delivery by harnessing platforms and fostering collaboration across UX, business upskilling, performance, and cross-channel connectivity to facilitate seamless interactions across digital touchpoints for our clients and their customers.” Poonja commences the role with immediate effect. This appointment follows the earlier announcements of Stacy Anderson as Deputy Managing Director, Omar Khan of Head of Data & Analytics and Andreas Skopal as Managing Director, and forms part of a growing Merkle MENA executive team.

Kibsons launches ‘Life Unboxed’ campaign

Kibsons, the UAE’s homegrown e-commerce grocery retailer places customers front and centre in its new fully-integrated, brand campaign, launched today.Four families, filmed at their homes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, celebrate the joys of wholesome food and togetherness in the campaign titled, “Life Unboxed”, which celebrates both everyday life and the undeniable brand hero of the ‘big blue box’ - the mainstay of many families weekly planning across the UAE.A 45-second video has been released featuring Kibsons customers from all walks of family life; including mums, dads, children, and a person of determination. The UAE-focused omni-channel campaign will run through the month of February on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Consolidating the online campaign, an original, conceptualised pop-up experience will tour around Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as mega Kibsons Life Unboxed boxes will land in parks and public spaces and make an appearance at the upcoming Taste of Dubai, from February 23-25, offering customers exciting prizes worth AED 45,000 when they share their #LifeUnboxed moments on their platforms. Broadcast amplification for the campaign will see #LifeUnboxed running across ARN radio channels during February offering exclusive prizes and promotion of the pop-up experience across the UAE.Halima Jumani, Director, Kibsons said “Everything we do starts and ends with our customers, so it seemed very natural to take a customer centric approach to this campaign, and place some of our most loyal customers at the very centre. In showcasing their stories and how Kibsons helps them live #LifeUnboxed, we champion physical, emotional, and social wellness and inclusion, as well as the importance of leading a life brimming with health, contentment and togetherness. We are grateful to the families that opened their homes to us, and to the thousands, who choose Kibsons and receive our blue boxes every day.”A new, limited edition Kibsons #Lifeunboxed box will be launched for the span of the campaign featuring a distinct blue gingham check pattern, familiar across various cultures and countries, symbolising the accessibility of Kibsons and the diversity of the families and communities it serves. The pattern is also frequently connected with picnics and outdoor living, highlighting the perks of leading simple and wholesome lifestyles. <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Beyond Ad Bots: Elias Karam's human-centric vision for advertising

Elias Karam, Strategy Director at Grey Dubai, stands at the forefront of advertising innovation, constantly challenging conventional norms. In this exclusive interview, he sheds light on a critical aspect of AI in advertising—its inability to generate captivating positioning or creative ideas. From his journey spanning finance to marketing and now advertising, Elias shares insights into his passion for understanding human psychology and crafting strategies that resonate. Join us as we delve into his experiences, strategies, and vision for the future of advertising.Please share your professional journey with us. How has it been with its highs and lows?It’s been nothing short of a rollercoaster, I’ve always been about having a job that excites me and challenges me, and I’ve dedicated my career so far in search of that. I started out in finance in a tobacco company, and found it too mechanical, lacking the human relationships that I found more interesting.After completing my master’s programme, I transitioned into marketing in hopes of finding what I was looking for in that field, but it wasn’t long before realized that the aspect of the work that I enjoyed the most was the one around brand perceptions and consumer behaviour, and, amusingly, it was there that I discovered the world of planning in the advertising field. Like a puzzle that finally fit, I discovered a profession dedicated to my love of writing and deep interest in consumer psychology.Making the shift though was an incredible challenge for me and it was only later that I realized that planners were not only a scarce commodity in the industry but also one without a clear linear path to break into, so understandably few agencies were willing to take a bet on me. By serendipitous fortune, after a series of interviews and a case study, I got a chance at Publicis to be a planner.Ever since, I’ve been hitting the ground running and grateful for every moment I’ve been a planner.As you have mentioned you started with finance, then marketing and now in advertising. So where does your real passion lie? How would you rate yourself in advertising?My passion lies in decoding human psychology, what motivates people, what interests them, and, more importantly, why it does. I've recently been fascinated by the signals and behaviors that many platforms capture to paint a personalized portrait of people. I see the potential for marrying my role as a planner with technology to transform our conversations with consumers, shifting from generic shots in the dark to ones of intimate understanding.It's hard to say how I would rate myself in advertising, but I do love smart campaigns, ones that zero in on an insight and then through the power of creativity and technology deliver on something impactful. A great example is Cadbury’s ‘Shah Rukh Khan My Ad’ which brilliantly blends all three components. The industry is constantly evolving, and the lines between where advertising starts and stops is getting blurry; so what we may have known about advertising a few years ago may not apply today.Can you describe your experience in developing and implementing successful advertising strategies at Grey Dubai? What is your approach to understanding a client's business and target audience when developing a marketing strategy?I’ve had a great time developing both campaign and brand strategies at Grey Dubai. We have such a diverse set of clients across different industries from FMCG to retail to fintech, and the approach is almost entirely different each time.Going back to consumer behaviour, within each category there is a sandbox of emotional territories to tap into that the brand can credibly deliver on to its target audience. At Grey, we employ our 'Famously Effective' Methodology to uncover and pinpoint that space within the context of culture, ensuring it holds unique and relevant meaning for our consumers.Can you provide an example of a campaign where your strategic direction significantly contributed to the client's success? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?Out of respect for my current clients and the confidentiality of our recent projects, I'll share an example from a previous campaign I led for Nescafe.Around two years ago, Nescafe was gearing up to launch a second burst of its Nescafe Ice product, and they sought to adapt the previous campaign to fit the summer season. The challenge presented itself twofold: how to uphold the essence of the previous campaign's line and look & feel while infusing it with freshness, and how to avoid succumbing to the temptation of portraying the ice beverage as merely a means to cool off in the scorching Gulf heat.By delving into what the category did and how people’s lifestyle changes during the summer season, I noticed that people struggled to maintain that coolness and cheerful state during the season as everything became indoors; friends and family were out of town, and all iced beverages could do was keep them refreshed during the heat. So we leveraged those two realities to create a new take on the season that fit well under the ‘Be Ice’ platform for the product. It was one of those moments where the creative work and strategy were harmonized and in sync that it immediately got bought in by the client from the first round.In the rapidly evolving landscape of digital advertising, how do you ensure that your strategies remain innovative and effective? Do you think AI is the next step for innovations?I often work on an integrated level, getting insights and data from media, social agencies, and platforms to understand what elicits the best results and what is trending. A big part of planning is research and staying up to date on the latest campaigns, new approaches, and new trends across social to best leverage where it's relevant for our brands.AI is indeed becoming increasingly indispensable in our daily operations. However, its Achilles heel, in my view, lies in its inability to make the creative leap when it comes to crafting intriguing positioning or generating innovative ideas. While AI text generators like Bard and Chat GPT can offer smart and logical strategies, they often fall short in presenting something truly creative or disruptive.What role does consumer research play in your strategic planning process, and how do you ensure that insights are effectively incorporated into campaigns?It’s the cornerstone of any campaign or strategic task, that serves as our starting point for what the brand can do for a consumer. Consumer research comes in many forms, and at Grey we try to collate as many different sources as possible from focus groups to commissioned studies to trends tools to create a data-driven approach from the smallest moment marketing campaign to a brand repositioning strategy.Obtaining data is one aspect of the equation; the other lies in transforming that data into actionable insights for the creative team. I typically ensure insights are integrated into the work through two methods. Firstly, during the briefing, I showcase references that encapsulate a similar insight and initiate discussions with the creatives to gauge their thoughts on it. Secondly, when the creatives present their concepts, I reverse engineer the idea to verify if the insight I arrived at aligns with the one used in the briefing.As a strategy director, how do you balance the need for creativity with the need for measurable results in advertising campaigns?What really matters here is understanding what ‘measurable’ results we’re looking for to help inform the type of creativity we need. My role as a planner is to keep adjusting the thermostat on the creative license as we go through the funnel, helping them dial it down when giving way to more specific messages that have little flexibility.What emerging technologies or platforms do you believe will have a significant impact on the advertising industry in the next few years, and how are you preparing for those changes?Generative AI is revolutionizing our industry, with tools like Runway and Midjourney becoming essential not only for creatives with an art background but also for planners seeking to bring their strategic propositions to life. These tools have democratized the visualization process, granting individuals without an art background the ability to act as visual creators with just a few prompts.Another key platform to watch out for is TikTok which has redefined what content should look like. Once upon a time, classic 30-second films needed high production budgets and a very staged look. As TikTok took the world by storm, we saw more and more consumers want authentic raw content, demanding the insights, the casting, and the content to feel closer to home. This had larger implications on how consumers wanted to see content, even outside TikTok.While these are just two of the many new and changing faces that are impacting the industry. We have already made great strides in embracing those changes rather than pushing them away. We work closer with the platform, using different tools to understand new trends and content formats that best serve the consumer. Regarding Generative AI, an increasing number of team members across departments are enhancing their capabilities through these tools to streamline processes. However, it's crucial to ensure that despite the utilization of AI, the creative and human touch remains integral to our work.Where do you see yourself in five years from now?I don’t think I’ve ever been able to answer this question with any degree of accuracy; I often change my point of view within months! While I don't know where I’ll be, I certainly know that what I’ll be doing will revolve around data & technology and using it to better understand human behaviour to help brands genuinely get closer to its audience.

MDLBEAST Records celebrates 200mln broadcasts in two years

 Matthew Dicks, Executive Director of Music and Talent at MDLBEAST Records, highlighted the growing influence of Arabic music on the global stage, reaching European countries like Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom.Speaking at "Balad Beast" music festival that was held recently in Jeddah, Matthew emphasized the unique platform MDLBEAST festivals provide for discovering young talents and fostering the local artistic community. Matthew Dicks stated, "We are proud that 30 of our artists are Saudis. In just two years, we have achieved remarkable milestones, including over 200 million streams on digital platforms, collaborations with 37 international artists, including Arab diaspora and 43 regional artists from the Middle East and North Africa, and the release of 159 singles, four albums, and nine EPs. Also, through our talent development and management, we are already exporting our talents and music worldwide where they have performed in 2023 across Europe, UK and the US at festivals and legendary clubs."Expressing his delight in participating in Balad Beast, he said, "It has been an incredible opportunity to connect with the remarkable community of artists and music enthusiasts in the Kingdom. The support for various music genres, from hip-hop to house and R&B, is impressive and continues to evolve within a dynamic and creative music scene."He praised MDLBEAST's exceptional ability to identify promising voices and talents, creating a global appeal through collaborations with renowned international artists. He highlighted the successes of MDLBEAST Records and its imprints, showcasing the rise of Saudi talents like Cosmicat, Dish Dash, Baloo and Vinyl Mode, who have become shining stars in the Saudi music scene. He further emphasized MDLBEAST Records' mission to discover local talents, collaborate in the Kingdom with international and regional artists, and provide growth opportunities for emerging talents.In conclusion, Matthew commended the MDLBEAST Records team, which comprises of predominantly local Saudi team members and a diverse mix of international, regional executives. Their expertise and dedication have contributed to the achievements and world-class level of MDLBEAST Records.

Ipsos appoints Ziad Issa as new Media CEO

Market research company Ipsos has appointed Ziad Issa as the new Media CEO, succeeding Elie Aoun, who has decided to step down after an exceptional 32-year tenure at Ipsos in MENA.In his new capacity, Ziad will lead and manage the media research business and the audience measurement at Ipsos across the MENA region. Ziad will play a crucial role in advancing the media business with a primary focus on commercial activation and the introduction of new media services. In his new role, Ziad reports directly to Edouard Monin, the CEO of Ipsos in MENA.“With his expertise in Media Research, Ziad is well-positioned to accelerate our progress. I am delighted to welcome such a seasoned and respected leader to our executive team. Together, we will foster a collaborative spirit for our clients and a bright future for our talent,” commented Edouard Monin, CEO of Ipsos in MENA.Ziad, who joined Ipsos in January 2005, has demonstrated unwavering dedication and strategic thinking throughout his tenure. Progressing through various roles, including Media Research Manager, Director, Chief Client Officer, and Chief Media Officer, Ziad is well-equipped to lead the media business and drive further success for Ipsos in MENA.“As someone who has proudly chosen Ipsos as my second home for the past two decades, prioritizing our clients' needs has always been my priority. I am dedicated to delivering exceptional service by embracing the dynamic changes within the media landscape. Our pursuit of excellence will persist as we strive to offer innovative solutions to our region,” explained Ziad Issa.

Alternative appoints Yash Ganatra as Client Service Head

Creative and digital marketing agency Alternative has appointed Yash Ganatra as Client Service Head. With an illustrious career and an innate understanding of clients' needs, Yash Ganatra is poised to elevate the agency's client service department to new horizons of excellence.He brings an abundance of experience and wisdom to his new position at Alternative. His professional journey has been a symphony of dedication to perfection and a relentless commitment to delivering extraordinary outcomes for clients. He boasts an impressive track record of forging robust client relationships and crafting ingenious solutions to address their distinctive challenges.Yash Ganatra’s mastery in client service and his strategic acumen seamlessly align with the agency's core mission, providing exceptional creative and marketing solutions to our clients. He possesses an uncanny ability to decipher clients' needs, foresee market trends, and construct effective strategies, making him the linchpin in taking Alternative Agency's client service department to uncharted zeniths.Yash Ganatra’s appointment comes at a juncture when Alternative is experiencing a meteoric rise, expanding its client roster across diverse industries. His leadership will be instrumental in ensuring that the agency continues to deliver world-class services, retaining its vanguard position in the industry.Alternative stands as a pioneering force in the realm of creative and digital marketing solutions. Specializing in brand activation, digital video content, social media management, mobile applications, wearable technology, innovation marketing, online advertising, and the artistry of bespoke websites with custom CMS, the agency boasts a dedicated coterie of creative virtuosos.

Google launches short video series with Saudi content creator

Google is launching a new short video series to answer the top searched questions on AI on Google by users in the Middle East and North Africa. The six-episode short video series in Arabic which aims to demystify the most common misconceptions around AI will be hosted by popular Saudi content creator, Abdullah AlAlawi and will feature veteran AI experts from Google including Mehdi Ghissassi, Director of Product Management at Google DeepMind.According to Google, Arabic queries on AI by users in the Middle East and North Africa region rose significantly in the last 12 months, and many of them are related to its daily practical uses. The six episodes will address the top searched questions -Episode 1: What is Generative AI?Episode 2: How can I use AI in my studies?Episode 3: What is the difference between AI and Machine Learning?Episode 4: How can I use AI everyday?Episode 5: How can I protect my data while using AI tools?Episode 6: How can I use AI to be more productive and creative?Googleyat will be published every week starting February 5th and will run on Google Arabia’s channels on YouTube, Instagram and X, as well as the channels of Abdullah AlAlawi on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

Balqees Fathi named first Emirati regional ambassador for Guerlain Middle East

Guerlain, a brand known for its perfumes and make-up, has announced the appointment of Balqees Fathi as the first Emirati regional ambassador for Guerlain Middle East. It is touted as a significant milestone for both the artist and the brand. Fathi's values strongly align with Guerlain's, particularly in terms of sustainability and appreciation for craftsmanship, which are becoming increasingly important in today's consumer landscape. Fathi's long-standing support for Guerlain further underscores her genuine connection with the brand, making her appointment as ambassador a natural progression.On her appointment, Balqees Fathi, Guerlain Ambassador, says: “I’m thrilled to start off this year with this exciting announcement. More than an ambassadorship, my work with Guerlain is a very personal collaboration - the values of the Maison are very close to my own, and its products have been on my vanity for as long as I remember. It’s with great pleasure that I embark on this new journey with Guerlain.”For Guerlain, this partnership signifies a strategic move to connect more deeply with women across the region, leveraging Fathi's status as a cultural icon and her resonance with contemporary audiences. Jenny Dumoulin's welcoming words highlight the excitement surrounding this collaboration and the recognition of Fathi's beauty, personality, and influence.Overall, this collaboration between Balqees Fathi and Guerlain represents a harmonious blend of two forces — the timeless elegance of the brand and the enchanting charisma of the artist — and is poised to resonate with consumers in the Middle East and beyond.

Indiacast Media Distribution unveils Desisplay TV

IndiaCast Media Distribution Pvt Ltd, the content asset monetization arm of TV18 and Viacom18, is proud to announce the launch of DesiPlay TV, a South Asian ‘FAST’ (Free Ad Supported Streaming Television) Channel on Shahid in HD format. This groundbreaking partnership between IndiaCast Media and Shahid, the world’s leading Arabic streaming platform by MBC Group will bring the vibrant world of Hindi entertainment to audiences across the globe, except for India.DesiPlay TV is set to revolutionize the way viewers access and enjoy South Asian content by offering a diverse range of programs, including movies, drama series, and much more with English subtitles. As a FAST channel, it is completely free and supported by advertisements, making it accessible to audiences from any device or locations.Key Highlights of DesiPlay TV on Shahid:1.     Global Accessibility: DesiPlay TV is available to audiences around the world (except India), providing a unique opportunity for South Asian content enthusiasts to connect with their roots and explore the rich tapestry of South Asian culture.2.     Evergreen Hindi Content: Viewers can expect an exciting array of content that spans genres and caters to a broad audience, from classic Bollywood movies to cutting-edge original series and culturally rich reality shows. The channel line up boasts of some of the most loved and popular shows like Na Ana Is Des Laado, Uttaran, Comedy Nights with Kapil etc.3.     Free to View: DesiPlay TV is free to access, ensuring that viewers can enjoy high-quality South Asian content without any subscription fees.4.     Continuous Engagement: The channel will regularly update its content library, providing fresh and engaging entertainment to keep viewers entertained.Mr. Govind Shahi, Executive Vice President, and Head of International Business, IndiaCast Media, expressed his excitement about this groundbreaking collaboration, saying, "We are thrilled to bring DesiPlay TV to South Asian entertainment enthusiasts in the Middle East and around the world. Our partnership with MBC and Shahid is a testament to our commitment to delivering high-quality, accessible content that caters to a global audience. This marks the beginning of an exciting journey, and we look forward to providing an unparalleled viewing experience to fans of quality South Asian entertainment."Lina Matta, Director of AVOD at MBC GROUP added: We are excited to introduce DesiPlay TV, a South Asian FAST channel on Shahid, in collaboration with IndiaCast which has proved to be a significant addition to our diverse content offerings. We pride ourselves in delivering high-quality, global entertainment experiences, and DesiPlay TV aligns perfectly with our mission. We look forward to welcoming viewers from around the world to enjoy the rich tapestry of South Asian entertainment, available on Shahid."

Rayyan Jamjoom appointed CEO of Social Clinic

Social Clinic has appointed Rayyan Jamjoom as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).In his social post on LinkedIn, he shares: “My professional journey has been nothing short of fascinating! It all began with a solid foundation at a multinational company, Unilever, where I honed my business skills and developed my professional identity. Despite being on a promising trajectory at Unilever, in 2013 I made a bold decision to embark on a completely different path joining a local media company – FADEN MEDIA. Joining Faden was irresistible to me because of its challenging environment and the passion and sheer drive exuding from its leadership; my bosses-turned-partners. As one of the first Saudi commercial talents in the field of media, I faced numerous challenges during my time at Faden, but these experiences have undoubtedly shaped me into the leader, investor, partner, team player, and go-getter that I am today. My growth hasn’t always been due to successes. Along the way, I have also learned a great deal from experiences that were not successful including a venture in the fashion retail industry and an investment in a food-tech company.”Rayyan Jamjoom, on acquiring Social Clinic in 2017, said: “I bid farewell to the world of offline media and embrace the exciting realm of advertising and communication as the CEO of my own company, Social Clinic. I, along with an extraordinary team, have grown Social Clinic from a small digital media boutique to a full-fledged communication agency with more than 100 employees. I am thrilled to be part of a talented group of young, intelligent, and passionate individuals who are shaping the future of the communication sector.” Jamjoom's optimism and enthusiasm for contributing to Saudi Arabia's progress under the leadership of HRH Prince Mohammed Bin Salman reflect his dedication to leveraging Social Clinic's expertise to support ambitious national initiatives. His vision for the future of advertising and communication underscores his commitment to making a meaningful impact in the industry.As Social Clinic enters a new chapter under Jamjoom's leadership, it is poised to continue shaping the advertising and communication landscape, driving innovation and delivering value to clients and stakeholders alike.

Dubai-based AI dubbing startup CAMB.AI raises $4 million

Dubai-based speech AI startup CAMB.AI has raised a $4 million seed round. CAMB.AI specializes in instantaneously dubbing any performance in over 100 languages, dialects, and accents using the original voices with their nuances. Led by Courtside Ventures, the investor group includes TRTL Ventures, Blue Star Innovation Partners, Ikemori Ventures, and Eisaburo Maeda. Dubai Future District Fund were early investors in CAMB.AI, and the company was part of the Dubai Future Accelerator cohort in 2023, as well as named a Future 100 Company of the UAE.The funding will power CAMB.AI’s continued growth and progress seen since the company was founded in 2022. Since then, CAMB.AI has broken several technological barriers with their MARS TTS and BOLI Translator, built from the ground up for voice localization.CAMB.AI’s state-of-the-art techniques don’t just translate speech; they capture and convey the speaker’s original tone and nuance – preserving emotion with less than three seconds of input. This ensures that the translated content remains as powerful and engaging as the original, maintaining the speaker’s intended impact. The largest collection of resource languages, CAMB.AI has the ability to translate Afrikaans, Malay, and Basque, a testament to the company’s commitment to making global communication more inclusive.“This technology is truly remarkable,” said Vasu Kulkarni, Partner at lead investor Courtside Ventures. “Growing up in India, a land of over 700 languages, I saw first-hand how difficult it was to consume the plethora of content out there when you couldn’t understand it. For NBA fans in India to now potentially be able watch Steph Curry while listening to the indelible Mike Breen commentating in Hindi is going to globalize the game even further.”Founded in the UAE by father-son duo of Avneesh Prakash, CEO, and Akshat Prakash, CTO, who spent a half-decade researching and building the technology, CAMB.AI has seen over 100M views of its dubbed content and already counts Major League Soccer, Tennis Australia, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Nick DiGiovanni, Narin Beauty, BeerBiceps, and many other live sports properties, media companies and individual mega-creators as clients.CAMB.AI was also used in Emirati director Nayla Al Khaja’s horror film Three, which debuted two months ago at the Red Sea Festival in Saudi Arabia as the world’s first, fully AI-dubbed multilingual feature film.“I wanted to ensure my movie was able to be viewed by a global audience in any language,” said Nayla Al Khaja. “Only CAMB.AI could capture the emotional nuances blended with the horrific content and create a truly authentic experience for my viewers.”Despite the expansive reach of top-notch digital content, a substantial segment of the global population misses out on the essence of that content due to linguistic barriers. Traditional methods of translation and dubbing sometimes fall short in preserving the original emotion, subtleties, and colloquialisms that render each piece of content unique. CAMB.AI offers revolutionary dubbing, using proprietary state-of-the-art Generative AI technology to deliver colloquial, contextual translations, zero-shot cross-lingual voice cloning, cross-lingual time sync, background score preservation, and more, at a fraction of the time and cost of others in the space.“This is a monumental day for CAMB.AI and we are excited to have an investor group that sees our vision and will help us grow,” said Avneesh Prakash, CAMB.AI CEO and Co-Founder. “We’ve already seen amazing adoption of our technology and we expect this funding to fast track further development and global expansion.”The company was recently selected, from a pool of 600+ companies, by Major League Soccer to be part of the inaugural cohort of the MLS Innovation Lab; with MLS planning to test CAMB.AI’s translation technology across their vast media ecosystem. The company was also selected for the exclusive 2024 AO Startups Program, a joint-venture between Tennis Australia, Wildcard Ventures and Techstars, with CAMB.AI’s technology most recently used to provide AI multi-lingual dubbing and translation from the 2024 Australian Open."Making content that is more accessible and personalized for our global fans is an absolute priority for the AO,“ Machar Reid, Head of Innovation, Tennis Australia. “CAMB AI has the potential to deepen our connection with these audiences in a way not previously thought possible."

Barracuda appoints new Chief Legal Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer

Barracuda Networks, Inc., a trusted partner and leading provider of cloud-first security solutions, today announced Nell O’Donnell as its new Chief Legal Officer and Kim Mota as its new Chief Human Resources Officer. Both leaders bring extensive years of executive leadership experience to Barracuda, with successful track records of leading companies through business growth and expansion.As Chief Legal Officer, Nell is a seasoned general counsel with a wealth of experience in the areas of cloud technology and data security. Nell comes to Barracuda from her recent role as SVP, Chief Legal Officer at ServiceMax (acquired by PTC). She has also served as SVP, General Counsel for McAfee and Brocade.As Chief Human Resources Officer, Kim brings extensive experience in human resources leadership where she has successfully managed global teams in multi-site enterprises of varying sizes. Kim joins Barracuda most recently from Integrated Device Technology (acquired by Renesas Electronics Corporation) where she led the worldwide Human Resources function. Prior to that she held HR leadership roles at Poly (acquired by HP).“As we continue to accelerate growth in our business and people teams, we are thrilled to expand the executive leadership team with these new leaders,” said Barracuda President and CEO, Hatem Naguib. “The invaluable expertise that Nell and Kim bring aligns perfectly with our business vision and commitment to our team.”

BeIN Media Group sees thousands sign up to beIN Forum

Since the recent launch of its beIN FORUM initiative, beIN MEDIA GROUP (‘beIN’), one of the foremost sports and entertainment networks in the world, has revealed that thousands of people from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have already signed up to join its exclusive online research community as panellists.The beIN FORUM was launched with the aim of providing beIN subscribers and viewers a louder voice. As a member of the platform, each panellist is invited to give their opinion on a variety of subjects, from ideas for new shows to their personal experience of watching current shows. By playing a pivotal role in enhancing the broadcaster’s products, services, and programming, members not only have a dedicated platform to share their views on beIN presenters, pundits, and commentators, but are also guiding their own unparalleled viewing journey.With thousands of members from across the broadcaster’s 24 MENA markets, the diversity of the panel ensures the entire region is represented and that beIN’s offerings will be better positioned to appeal to the many MENA cultures and nationalities. The initiative aims to put the customer’s voice at the very heart of decision-making at beIN. The broadcaster will soon be calling all existing members, and urging new members to join the community, to provide feedback on its coverage of the ongoing AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023TM and TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Côte d'Ivoire 2023™, as well as the various packages offered and customer engagement with various aspects of the events.Consisting of group discussions and online surveys, the beIN FORUM – which is being operated on behalf of beIN by Verve, the global specialist online research community agency – is also providing participating members with exclusive updates and opportunities to receive monetary incentives.

Makana 360 Teams Up with World Defense Show 2024 for Social Listening Services

Makana 360 is honored to announce its partnership with the World Defense Show (WDS) 2024, providing unparalleled social listening and monitoring services to one of the leading global defense and security events. Makana 360 will also offer benchmarking media analysis against similar global events and occasions. Set under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, WDS 2024 represents the pinnacle of innovation and future trends in the defense industry, spanning land, sea, air, space, and security sectors.As the defense industry continues to navigate through a rapidly evolving technological landscape, the demand for strategic insights and real-time analytics has escalated. Acknowledging this critical need, WDS in partnership with Memac Ogilvy has engaged Makana 360 to deploy its sophisticated digital and social listening methodology. This initiative aims to enrich the event’s strategic planning, media coverage abd audience engagement by tapping into deep insights from a plethora of digital media platforms.Strategic Insights for a Global Defense PlatformMakana 360’s cutting-edge approach will provide WDS 2024 with an in-depth understanding of media coverage, audience engagement, competitive dynamics, and industry trends. By analyzing data from diverse digital channels, including News, Magazines, Blogs, Forums and and media like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and more, Makana 360 will deliver actionable intelligence, supporting WDS in having targeting global influence and engagement with key stakeholders in the defense sector.“This collaboration with the World Defense Show 2024 underscores our dedication to leveraging social listening for profound insights,” said Abdurrahman Al-Husami, Founder and CEO of Makana 360. “Our goal is to empower WDS with a comprehensive understanding of their audience and industry trends, and how media capture the event, ensuring the event’s continued success and global impact.”

Home Centre's campaign celebrates stepfathers and remarriage in the Middle East

Home Centre’s new promotional ad, created by Leo Burnett MEA, is a significant and impactful initiative addressing an often overlooked aspect of family dynamics in the Middle East. By shedding light on the topic of remarriage and stepfathers, the campaign not only celebrates the role of stepdads but also aims to break social and cultural taboos surrounding this issue.The film's narrative, depicting the emotional journey of a child coming to accept his stepfather, is likely to resonate with many families who have experienced similar situations. By portraying the stepfather as a positive figure who ultimately earns the child's acceptance and love, this ad challenges stereotypes and encourages acceptance and understanding.The original soundtrack, "The Lighthouse and the Boat," adds depth to the storytelling, capturing the emotions and complexities of the relationship between a stepfather and a son. This metaphorical representation of their bond as lighthouses guiding each other through life's challenges is both poignant and relatable.In addition to the film, the broader initiative includes valuable content from a psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi, providing insight and support for individuals navigating the journey of remarriage. This multi-faceted approach, incorporating storytelling, expert advice, and social content, demonstrates a comprehensive effort to raise awareness and foster dialogue around a sensitive topic.The involvement of Home Centre, a leading furniture retailer in the Middle East, in this campaign aligns with its brand purpose of enabling every home to tell its unique story. By addressing topics such as single motherhood, adoption, and now remarriage and stepfathers, Home Centre demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and diversity, while also filling a gap in the conversation within the region.Overall, this campaign has the potential to spark meaningful conversations, challenge societal norms, and ultimately contribute to greater acceptance and support for families of all compositions in the Middle East.CreditsBrand: Home CentreSiddarth Sivaprakash: Head of Marketing, Home CentreAtharv Ruparel, Hassan Khan: Marketing Team, Home CentreCreative Agency: Leo Burnett MEA (Middle East & Africa) DubaiChief Executive Officer – Publicis Groupe MENAT: Bassel KakishChief Creative Officer: Kalpesh PatankarChief Strategy Officer – Publicis Groupe MENAT: Tahaab Rais Associate Creative Director Creative: Farhan SiddiquiHead of Production: Shereen MostafaChief Executive Officer – Publicis Communications: Nathalie GevresseBusiness Lead – Communications Consultancy: Vicky KriplaniSenior Producer: Judy LamaaSenior Manager – Communications Consultancy: Maria Jabbour Manager – Communications Consultancy: Nahla JaberHead of Strategy & Insights: Aakriti GoelSenior Manager – Strategy & Insights: Anna Sadykova Production Company: Prodigious MEChief Executive Officer: Sami SalehFilm Director: Tahaab RaisProduction Lead: Myriam Abi WardehProducer: Ralph MatarDirector of Photography: Aeyaz HasnAssistant Director: Vanessa MghamesProduction Manager: George KhalafProduction Coordinator: Nour HelouProduction Assistants: Rami Noureddine, Nader Al ZohbiArt Director: Bora BaturWardrobe Stylist: Windy IshakChild: Tanmay Rishi ShahThe Creature: Mascot Maker, Cristy, Larry and MujahidGear: Gamma EngineeringGaffer: Sohail IftikarKey Grip: Ibrahim ToumaHair & Makeup: Natalie TufenkjianLocation: Bassel AlzoubiBTS: Ralph Jigger Post Production: Optix MEPost Production Lead: Nayla ChacraPost Producer: Megan MarkelEditor (Cold Cutz): Neda AhmedOnline Supervisor: Eddy FarahOnline Artist: Rita Mechedjian, Priyanka BhathejiColorist (LZRD): Karim Mira Music: Magma Music AgencyLyricist and songwriter: Tahaab RaisMusic Creative Director: Seppl KretzMusic Supervisor: Michael BertoldiniComposers: 22ghostsSound Design: Bram Van BergenVocalist: Joseph Bills

Get Outfit invests over $5mln in creators and influencers in the Middle East

Get Outfit, the next-generation fashion discovery app, powered by a generative AI stylist and enriched with curated creators' content, is thrilled to announce the launch of the "Get Outfit for Creators" program. This initiative not only redefines the shopping experience for users with an AI stylist but also opens up new ways for monetization for influencers.Creators boasting an audience of over 1000 followers can seamlessly join the platform and start earning commissions from a diverse array of over 2000 contemporary brands and authentic designers, ranging from Nike to Jacquemus. Get Outfit enables creators to launch their personalized pages, curate collections of their favorite fashion items and share the link on social media, whether it's a selection of sneakers, bags, a capsule wardrobe for a European trip, or sharing style inspirations for special events."In our customer development discussions with creators, we uncovered a pressing issue: over 90% of them struggle to monetize their content. You share a stylish Instagram post, engage with followers about your fashion choices, but it doesn't translate into earnings. We decided to change that and give creators the opportunity to monetize their passion for fashion. Fashion is the favorite category for the emerging Gen Z, and we genuinely believe this initiative will foster a new cohort of young entrepreneurs, offering them an additional avenue to monetize their passion." said Kim Sanzhiev, founder of Get OutfitGet Outfit for Creators has already been launched, with over 50 influencers actively using the platform, including both major influencers with over 1 million followers and niche fashion micro-influencers or stylists with community pages of 2000 followers. In addition to the commission model, the team is currently testing a subscription model with creators, allowing them to create exclusive content for their audience and utilize Generative AI tools for content creation. The startup plans to introduce a dedicated section in the app featuring User-Generated Content (UGC) from the fashion community, as part of its Social Commerce mechanics development within the mobile application.Moreover, Get Outfit is committed to investing over $5 million in the next 3 years for payments to creators. This significant financial commitment underscores the platform's dedication to recognizing and rewarding the creativity and influence of content creators.This aligns with the initiative by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the UAE’s vice president, prime minister, and ruler of Dubai, who has unveiled a fund of Dh150 million ($40.8 million) dedicated to supporting content creators and influencers.

Chalhoub Group Invests in Boltable Studio for Metaverse Retail Innovation

This investment emphasizes Chalhoub Group's commitment to exploring innovative virtual retail avenues and strengthening its presence in the metaverse.In 2022, Chalhoub Group initiated its journey into the metaverse and Web3 by launching a collection of 529 exclusive NFTs for its French luxury silverware brand, Christofle. These NFTs sold out within 5 minutes. Following this success, the Group introduced phygital sneakers for Level Shoes’ 10th anniversary celebration. In 2023, Chalhoub Group continued its pioneering efforts by unveiling the first-ever web3-native streetwear label SOL3MATES. .Expanding upon the successful exploration of the Metaverse, Chalhoub Group's investment in Boltable Studio is a key element of a holistic strategy to integrate web3 and virtual retail into its business model. This strategic move positions the Group to navigate future market changes effectively while mitigating resource risks. Furthermore, it represents a significant stride toward the future of virtual Shopping. Prior to their partnership, Chalhoub Group & Boltable Studio collaborated on the virtual Roblox collection for Christofle. In 2023, fifteen virtual items, created by Boltable Studio, sold over 120,000 times on Roblox, highlighting the platform’s significant potential.The partnership with Christofle is a testament to Boltable's ability to translate traditional luxury into the digital space, resonating with a new generation of consumers. Chalhoub Group has additional partnerships in progress to introduce (luxury) brands to Roblox.Nick Vinckier, Director of Corporate Innovation at Chalhoub Group, commented: “Our investment in Boltable Studio is a strategic step towards understanding and leveraging the metaverse and platforms like Roblox. These digital spaces are not just gaming platforms; they are the community centers and shopping destinations of the future, where we can connect with the customers of tomorrow, today. Partnering with a leader like Boltable Studio, renowned for their Roblox expertise and successful in-game brand Prince Clothing, aligns perfectly with our vision to be at the forefront of retail innovation.”Zain Tambe, founder and CEO of Boltable Studio added: "Partnering with Chalhoub Group is a game-changer for Boltable Studio. Our years of experience in Roblox position us uniquely to bring luxury retail into this vibrant digital world. This partnership is more than an investment; it's a fusion of Chalhoub Group's luxury expertise with our innovative approach in Roblox, setting a new standard in virtual retail. Together, we're not just entering the Roblox ecosystem; we're redefining luxury retail for a new, digitally-savvy audience,"Based in Abu Dhabi, Boltable Studio has been a trailblazer in the Roblox world since 2016. Their in-house brand, Prince Clothing, has sold over 30 million virtual items, demonstrating their profound understanding and success in this domain.

Elie Aoun steps down as Ipsos MENA CEO after 32 years

Elie Aoun has decided to step down from his position as Media CEO at Ipsos in MENA after 32 years of service. This marks a significant transition in his illustrious career. Having joined Ipsos in Lebanon in 1992, Aoun's journey within the organization has been characterized by continuous growth and contribution to the media landscape in the region.Over the years, Aoun's leadership and strategic vision have been instrumental in shaping Ipsos' media business in MENA. His tenure saw him taking on various roles and responsibilities, showcasing his versatility and deep understanding of the industry. Notable milestones include his appointment as Global Adex Lead in 2020 and becoming a partner at Ipsos in MENA in 2015, underscoring his significant contributions to the organization's global and regional operations.Aoun's departure from the role of Media CEO does not mark the end of his association with Ipsos in MENA. Rather, he will transition into an advisory role, leveraging his extensive experience and industry knowledge to support the organization's continued success. Additionally, Aoun's future plans involve exploring personal ventures across multiple industries, indicating his readiness to embark on new endeavors while continuing to contribute to the business landscape.Overall, Elie Aoun's legacy at Ipsos in MENA is one of leadership, innovation, and lasting impact on the media sector. His departure signifies the end of an era, but his ongoing involvement and future ventures promise to further enrich the industries he chooses to engage with.