Astra Tech launches autonomous shopping experience with Facepay

Dubai: Astra Tech, the leading consumer technology holding group in the MENA region, has officially launched its first autonomous shopping store in Sky Tower, Abu Dhabi; the imaginative brick-and-mortar location operates solely using artificial intelligence (AI). “B Store,” an innovative retail concept, is revolutionizing the shopping experience in the UAE through faster payment processing and fewer hassles. Powered by cutting-edge AI technology and cloud integration, B Store offers a seamless and fully automated shopping experience that lets shoppers pay for their purchases by simply using their faces.Integrating facial recognition technology for customer payments in an autonomous store is a unique offering that sets Astra apart. The store focuses on grocery items with extended shelf life, ensuring customer satisfaction and convenience. This innovative combination showcases Astra’s commitment to expanding and enhancing its services. At B Store, shoppers can expect a hassle-free journey from start to finish, as the process is designed to provide a seamless and convenient shopping experience. Upon approaching the entry gates, the customer is greeted with an ELO screen displaying a message, "Tap or Scan to Enter." They have the option to pay using the POS machine by tapping their card or utilizing Payby’s revolutionary FacePay; users can act out the action instead of selecting an on screen. For card payments, customers proceed to tap the POS machine with their card, while for FacePay, they move to the FacePay machine and simply look at it. Once the payment method is completed, the ELO screen will initiate a question about their receipt.When selecting their preferred option, the gates open, granting access to the store.. Inside the store, customers can comfortably retrieve their desired items in the most convenient and smooth manner. Upon leaving, they receive a text message on the provided phone number, expressing gratitude for their trip and informing them that their receipt is being processed. A subsequent message contains a hyperlink, allowing customers to click and view their receipt conveniently.Valeriya Thores, Autonomous E-Commerce Director at Astra Tech said: "We are thrilled to introduce the first-ever B Store and redefine the future of retail. This innovative integration of facial recognition technology revolutionizes the way we shop and showcases our commitment to providing unparalleled convenience and security. Step into the future of retail with B Store, where your face becomes your ultimate payment method. Our vision has always been to simplify the everyday for our customers, and this is another step in that direction."The Ultra app is taking its offerings one step further by harnessing the power of AI and creating an autonomous store where customers can seamlessly complete transactions using the power of their faces. Driving the industry forward with its pioneering vision, Astra Tech is re-imaging the future and solidifying its leading position at the forefront of the regional technology sector.

CNNB Solutions rebrands to Uplo as it aims to double size of team

Dubai: CNNB Solutions has announced it will now operate under the new name, Uplo, with immediate effect. As the business enters an ambitious new phase of growth across all departments and territories, the board of directors wanted to reflect a more inclusive name, beyond its founding team of Charbel Nasr (‘CN’) and Nicolas Bruylants (‘NB’). After consultation with internal team members and external brand consultants, the name Uplo was selected.With a team of more than 30 people spread across multiple markets including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and Kuwait, Uplo aims to double its team over the next 18 months, as it signs new partnerships and continues to fill its already impressive portfolio of international and regional brands. Uplo will expand into new sectors such as fashion and footwear, while also adding further e-sellers in its distribution network.Speaking about the company’s new brand name and design, Uplo co-founder and Chief Vision Officer Nicolas Bruylants said, “Our purpose from day one was to help partner brands supercharge their online sales and offer solutions that reduce the stress of online retail management. We’re investing in talent across the Middle East and constantly developing the best proprietary technology and processes to help our partners thrive across the region. The new brand Uplo reflects our ambitious plans and aligned vision for the future as a one-stop solution for online retail management.”The rebrand includes a fresh new company identity, vision, mission and more comprehensively defined brand values. Visually, the new Uplo brand includes full design incorporating logo development, palette, fonts, website, internal and external materials and collateral.Uplo continues to support regional job creation and over the coming months will be hiring for a variety of roles including import and export logistics specialists, fashion brand managers, data analysts, full stack developers and legal team members. To find out more about these roles and more, visit

Toyota’s 2023 Crown arrives in Saudi Arabia

Jeddah: Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, an authorized distributor of Toyota vehicles in Saudi Arabia since 1955, launched the highly anticipated 2023 Toyota CROWN, marking a new era of elegance, sophistication, and cutting-edge technology. As a testament to its unwavering commitment to excellence and its deep appreciation of its history, the 16th-generation CROWN showcases the unparalleled craftsmanship and dynamic driving experience that it is renowned for.The 2023 CROWN has elevated the benchmark for luxury sedans, designed to offer unmatched performance, comfort, and safety with its elegant silhouette and powerful stance that enhances the dynamic driving experience. With the vehicle combining a unique sense of elegance and nostalgia, it is available in two environmentally friendly powertrains.The first hybrid electric powertrain consists of a front electric motor and Toyota’s first-ever 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder turbo engine, mated with direct shift six-speed automatic transmission. A rear wheel eAxle that includes a high output water-cooled electric motor is coupled with the hybrid electric system to transmit force to the four wheels directly. These ensure a thrilling throttle response and linear acceleration throughout the power band, along with a combined power of 344 hp and 550 nm of torque.The second hybrid electric powertrain consists of two electric motors and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder petrol engine, generating a total power of 218 hp. The hybrid-electric system, paired with an Electric Continuously Variable Transmission (e-CVT), achieves the lowest fuel efficiency, with a consumption rate of 26.1 km/l, while elevating the driving experience to new levels.The new Crown model can be driven entirely on electrical ?power with zero fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions, or by combining the power generated from both the petrol ?engine and the electric motor, depending on the vehicle’s speed and customer’s driving behavior. ?Its hybrid-electric batteries are continuously charged by either the petrol ?engine or when decelerating and braking, eliminating the need to plug in a power cord. A host of advanced technologies ensure the hybrid-electric model drives like any other conventional vehicle and ?does not require special fuel.Mazin Ghazi Jameel, Managing Director of Toyota Marketing Operations, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors, said, “We proudly introduce the all-new 2023 CROWN in Saudi Arabia, as this iconic luxury sedan embodies Abdul Latif Jameel Motors’ commitment to excellence, delivering the perfect blend of performance, luxury, and style. The vehicle has enjoyed a rich and illustrious history in Saudi Arabia, where it has captivated generations of discerning guests with its timeless appeal and exceptional driving experience. We pay homage to this cherished legacy while introducing a vehicle that blends legendary reliability with cutting-edge technology, redefining what a luxury sedan can be.”Since its debut in 1955 as Toyota’s first mass-produced passenger vehicle, the 2023 CROWN returns to its origins with a new emblem that champions the tradition and innovation it symbolizes. The vehicle is a unique blend of styles, featuring the refined aesthetic of a luxury sedan, the sleek design of a sports car, and the spacious interior of an SUV. This vehicle sets itself apart from the norm and offers a fresh take on premium sedans.The Toyota CROWN’s latest design is a testament to innovation and ambition, providing exceptional handling and maneuverability. It is constructed on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA-K) platform, which provides excellent body rigidity and a low center of gravity, ensuring a more gratifying driving experience. The vehicle boasts a brand-new MacPherson strut-type suspension at the front and a new multi-link suspension system at the rear, which contribute to outstanding stability and handling, resulting in exceptional ride comfort. This car offers a range of driving modes that cater to different preferences and driving styles, including NORMAL, ECO, SPORT, SPORT+, and Comfort. Additionally, there is a CUSTOM mode that allows guests to personalize the vehicle's settings based on their specific driving habits. With these choices, drivers can enjoy improved steering response, flat cornering, stability, or a more comfortable ride that prioritizes comfort.Kei Fujita, Chief Representative, Middle East and Central Asia Representative ?Office, Toyota Motor Corporation, commented: “We are thrilled to announce the return of the legend and introduce the highly-anticipated new Toyota Crown in the Middle East. Built to deliver an intuitive driving experience, this new premium vehicle brings powerful acceleration and confident handling, along with supreme comfort for a sophisticated ride, all wrapped in a bold new design. Introducing the Crown with hybrid electric powertrains further demonstrates our wholehearted dedication to achieving carbon neutrality. We extend our gratitude to our customers in the region and beyond for continuously inspiring us as we strive to innovate and create 'ever-better cars' that surpass their expectations.”The CROWN boasts a sleek and modern exterior, featuring a striking front grille and elongated headlights. The vehicle's rear design showcases lights with a sleek, straight extension that not only broadens its appearance but also adds a luxurious touch, completing its overall refined look.As soon as guests step inside the spacious cabin, they will notice the meticulous attention to detail present in every component of the interior, from the elegant metal accents to its luxurious new features. The display and operating equipment provide easy control, while the instrument panel's curved shape offers the driver optimal focus. The vehicle's unique height allows for a better view of the road and easy entry and exit.Additionally, the Crown comes equipped with a 12.3-inch touchscreen multimedia system that is compatible with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™, a 12.3-inch TFT color meter that offers 12 patterns to choose from, a color head-up display (HUD), a dual-zone automatic air conditioning system with rear AC vents, an 11-speaker JBL surround sound system, a panoramic roof, multi-adjustable power and ventilated front seats, and 60/40 split and reclining rear seats. For added convenience, the new Crown features a hands-free, electrically powered trunk that can be activated using a foot-operated system when the user's hands or arms are full.Just like any other Toyota model, CROWN prioritizes safety for its drivers. Toyota Safety Sense is an advanced safety and driver assistance system that guarantees complete peace of mind. It includes a Pre-Collision System (PCS) with an expanded detection range for vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycles, as well as new features like Automatic Emergency Brake, Emergency Steering Assist, and Acceleration Suppression at Low Speed. The system also has all-speed range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) with Turn Signal Control (TSC), which enhances highway overtaking safety and smoothness by providing an initial acceleration when the driver engages the turn signal. Curve Speed Reduction (RSR) suppresses the vehicle's speed when entering a bend and provides additional acceleration upon exiting. Other features include Lane Tracing Alert (LTA), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), and Adaptive High-beam System (AHS).In addition, the new CROWN also features Toyota's first-ever Safe Exit Assist (SEA), which uses the Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) to help prevent accidents, eight SRS airbags, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Parking Assist Monitor (PAM), Parking Support Brake (PKSB), Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA), Drive-Start Control (DSC), Panoramic View Monitor (PVM), Rear Camera Cleaning System, and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), among many others.With 19 and 21-inch machine-finished black and a 21-inch dark premium metallic wheels, the CROWN’s new bold look will come with seven captivating extterior hues that complement the vehicle’s striking visual appeal, including Precious White Pearl, Precious Silver, Precious Metal, Massive Gray, Black, Emotional Red II, and Precious Bronze. Further personalization is made possible with the addition of several dual-tone variants Black can be combined with Precious White Pearl, Precious Silver, Precious Metal, Massive Gray, Emotional Red ll, or Precious Bronze. The vehicle’s interior features an equally stylish color scheme, with two options either fromage or black.Since 1955, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors has worked together with Toyota Motor Corporation to deliver a premium experience of automotive ownership and aftersales services in Saudi Arabia. Leveraging decades of considerable expertise across the mobility value chain, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors continues to improve products and services – meeting the evolving needs of its guests.

Coffee Communications appoints Dana Oraibi as senior PR manager

Dubai: Coffee Communications, a Dubai-based strategic brand consultancy and communications agency, has appointed Dana Oraibi as a senior PR manager to its team.As the newly appointed Senior PR Manager, Dana will play a pivotal role in shaping the agency's strategic vision, leading a talented team of professionals, and working closely with Natasha Al Fadhli, Founder and Owner of Coffee Communications, to elevate the agency’s industry standing. With experience spanning over six years of executing highly effective PR campaigns, Dana brings a fresh perspective to the table that will undoubtedly strengthen the agency's capabilities to drive client success."With our growing portfolio, we are thrilled to have Dana Oraibi join our talented team. Strength of a business lies in its people; the most important investment for Coffee Communications as we continue to grow the team and culture. There is an incredible, competitive pool of talent in the UAE, and I am fortunate to find industry experts to support me in elevating Coffee Communications." said Natasha Al Fadhli, founder-CEO of Coffee Communications. "Her passion, enthusiasm, and extensive expertise in the PR industry make her a valuable asset to our agency. We are confident that her strategic thinking, creativity, and dedication will elevate our clients' brand presence and generate outstanding results."Dana brings a proven track record of managing successful campaigns for renowned industry clients such as The Giving Movement, Swarovski, Kate Spade New York, Okhtein, P&G, Dubai Watch Week, Jumeirah Restaurant Group, OSN, OPPO, Pirelli and UFC. Her exceptional skills and contributions were also acknowledged when she was featured as one of the "30 Under 30 PR Faces to Watch 2020" by Campaign Middle East."I'm looking forward to contributing to the ongoing success of Coffee Communications," said Dana Oraibi. "The agency has a solid reputation in the industry, and I look forward to building upon that foundation, driving innovation, and delivering outstanding results for our clients with the team."Having been born and raised in the UAE, Dana possesses an understanding of the diverse dynamics of the local and regional markets. Her in-depth knowledge enables her to conceptualise and execute highly effective global campaigns for lifestyle and luxury brands, tailored specifically to resonate with the audience in the region.Coffee Communications is confident that Dana’s expertise, passion, and dedication will drive the agency's growth and success, further solidifying its position as a leader in the industry.

DAA's Blue Ribbon Meet in Dubai: Advancing transparency in digital advertising

Dubai: The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), known for promoting transparency, choice, and responsible use of data, recently launched an exciting new era in digital advertising with its first-ever Blue Ribbon Meet in Dubai. Opened by a compelling keynote from Lou Mastria, CEO of DAA, USA, the meet marked a decade-long journey of the DAA & AdChoices program, emphasizing its ongoing commitment and evolution in the sphere of digital advertising.The meet, attended by industry stalwarts such as Franklin Templeton, Khaleej Times, Century Financial, Puretech Digital, DAMAC, Dentzz Dental, Soulflower, Tealium, World Of Media, World Ventures Marketing among others, focused on bolstering transparency, consumer control, trust, and importantly, local law compliance in digital advertising, acknowledging the global focus on privacy and consumer protection.Balaji Vaidyanathan, Franklin Templeton's Director and Head of Marketing - CEEMEA, expressed excitement about the initiative: "Dubai is at the heart of everything FinTech and digital, providing one of the world’s best ecosystems to foster innovation, attracting record investments and growth at an accelerated pace. Being uniquely positioned as a digital growth accelerator in the region makes it the ideal locale for this visionary meet."Prashant Deorah, Puretech Digital’s CEO & MD, echoed similar sentiments, "Hosting this pivotal and progressive event in Dubai has been a landmark for Puretech. It reiterates our commitment to encouraging best practices and evangelizing the benefits with our partners and customers."Discussions also revolved around the PWC, UAE Data Privacy Handbook, highlighting the key principles of the UAE’s Data Protection Law and how the DAA program complements to ensure the digital advertising ecosystem remains compliant.Following the enriching discourse, an after-hours networking event hosted by Puretech Digital at the popular Bombay Borough provided a relaxed environment for industry leaders to connect, further fostering camaraderie among participants.The Blue Ribbon Meet served as a stepping-stone to the DAA Summit in Chicago from June 13-14, offering regional leaders a platform to contribute to shaping the future of digital advertising.Vatsal Asher, Governing Council Convener for DAA Asia & Middle East, reflected on the event, "This inaugural meet marked a significant step for DAA in the Middle East. I am particularly grateful for the guidance and support provided by our recently appointed regional envoy, Ashish Limaye, and all participants. This initiative signals our commitment to influence the global digital advertising landscape and to make the internet a safer place."As part of its continued commitment to digital advertising, the DAA announces a follow-up meetup for the DAA Principles & AdChoices program, scheduled for September 2023 in Dubai. Digital marketing and advertising leaders across the Middle East are implored to join this transformative initiative. Help us shape the future of digital advertising. Confirm your interest for the second Blue Ribbon Meet..

Zoho and Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce announce economic cooperation agreement

Dubai: Leveraging the continued success of the Abraham Accords, technology giant Zoho, in collaboration with the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce and with the support of the Consulate General of the State of Israel in Dubai, announced an economic cooperation agreement with the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce.As part of the collaboration, partner companies with the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce will receive complimentary access up to 1 year of Zoho's 55+ cloud-based business applications and its industry expertise. The company has more than 90 million users spread across 150+ countries, including UAE and Israel, and its total revenue crossed a billion dollars last year."We are excited to partner with the Consulate General of the State of Israel in Dubai and the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce, and keen to invest in the Israeli business ecosystem,” said Premanand Velumani, Regional Manager of Zoho Middle East and Africa. "As part of our transnational localism strategy, wherein we stay locally rooted while being globally connected, we support development of local business ecosystems and communities. Israel is one of the countries with the highest value per customer in the Middle East for Zoho, and we are committed to serving the local businesses there."Applauding the cooperation agreement, Consul General of the State of Israel in Dubai HE Liron Zaslansky said, “The Abraham Accords have paved the way to fruitful synergies and economic partnerships between Israel and its regional allies. We view Dubai and the UAE as a central connecting point for new markets and prospects, particularly for Israel’s expertise in the technology and innovation sector. We congratulate Zoho and the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce on their collaboration, it is an important milestone, and we are confident that this is only the beginning of many beneficial alliances.”The agreement aims to add value to the Chamber’s vast experience in identifying and creating business opportunities for the benefit of its members and partners.Anat Bernstein Reich, President of Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce commented "It is an opportune time for Israel and India to leverage our friendship with the UAE ecosystem and facilitate more businesses to enter the Israeli market. Zoho, being a foremost brand in India, is leading the way in fostering these valuable alliances and gateway opportunities for our members. We welcome them and are very happy with the collaboration set between our Chamber and Zoho."

Batelco unveils digital loyalty programme Jawaher

Manama, Bahrain: Batelco, part of the Beyon Group, announced today the launch of Jawaher, its first digital loyalty programme that enables customers to earn loyalty points which can be redeemed for exciting rewards. Jawaher points will be added automatically when customers pay their monthly bills for Mobile Postpaid, Mobile Broadband or Fiber Broadband, in full and by the due date. Customers, according to their eligibility, can redeem their points for service credit on their Batelco bill, or by claiming them as air miles. Starting from today, postpaid customers will have an individual virtual loyalty card that will pop up on the Batelco Mobile App, enabling them to view, manage, and redeem their Jawaher points seamlessly. Moreover, exclusive partner offers will be available on the Batelco App to give customers up to 40% off at local jewelry shops, restaurants, supermarkets and more. To benefit from the great deals, customers need to show their virtual card to the partners.Batelco General Manager Consumer, Aseel Mattar said: “We are delighted to introduce the Jawaher loyalty programme for our customers. The launch of this programme is our special way to recognize and reward them for their loyalty and trust in us.”“More benefits and offers will be added to the Jawaher programme on a regular basis to enrich the programme and we will continue with our efforts to exceed our customers’ expectations through the delivery of exceptional experiences, to ensure satisfaction,” she added.For more information about the Jawaher programme benefits and eligibility, customers are invited to visit                                This press release has been issued by Beyon Corporate Communications & Sustainability Department.

NEOM and SRMG agree partnership to enhance regional media ecosystem

RIYADH: SRMG, a global integrated media group, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NEOM Media Industries, a developing regional center for media and creative industries in the heart of Saudi Arabia. The MoU, which outlines a range of focus areas, underlines a shared dedication to enhancing the media ecosystem in the region.NEOM will leverage SRMG’s media expertise, extensive portfolio and established partnerships to increase content production in Saudi Arabia. This builds on the growing success of the sector in the Kingdom, as investment into infrastructure and upskilling of talent positions NEOM as a world-class production hub. SRMG’s existing and new partners will benefit from the collaboration between both brands, including access to world-class production facilities.Beyond production, SRMG and NEOM Media Industries will work together to design joint talent development and industry training programmes to continue to uplift the breadth and depth of the media talent pool within the region – including journalism, script writing and production. These programmes will build on the successful collaboration between NEOM and SRMG Academy in November last year - the “Stories to Tell” journalism bootcamp – which trained and upskilled young Saudi journalism graduates and media professionals and resulted in 22 interns being hired by SRMG.Nadhmi Al-Nasr, Chief Executive Officer of NEOM, said: “NEOM aims to be an accelerator of human progress – innovating across multiple industries and sectors to redefine business. NEOM Media Industries is one such example. Our mission is to create a new world-class media hub at NEOM, one that focuses on providing for screen production, gaming and digital publishing. This partnership with SRMG complements and accelerates NEOM’s commitment to creating a regional center to establish NEOM amongst the elite global media hubs.”Commenting on the signing, Jomana R. Al-Rashid, Chief Executive Officer of SRMG, added: “This partnership represents an important moment for the media ecosystem in the MENA region. Working together, NEOM and SRMG will increase capability and capacity of localized production; accelerate media technology; and create new revenue streams for the industry. Through empowering local content creators, we will ensure that home-grown talent is nurtured and that regional stories are told on a world stage. There is extraordinary untapped creativity in the MENA region, and we are delighted to have created this opportunity to champion it.”Additional aspects of the MoU include media technology development, co-organizing events at NEOM, and SRMG exploring establishing an early presence at NEOM in the long run.

Treble winners Manchester City fly home on Etihad Airways’ city branded livery

Abu Dhabi: Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national airline, today flew the victorious Manchester City team home on a unique Club-liveried Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The charter flight followed their historic Saturday night win in Istanbul and is the first time a European champion team has flown home on their own branded aircraft.Etihad’s specially branded Dreamliner, registered A6-BND, flew the team from Istanbul to Manchester Airport on Sunday 11 June. The aircraft design honours the airline’s prestigious 14-year partnership with the Club and features Manchester City’s hallmark blue colour and club branding.Antonoaldo Neves, Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Airways, said: “A first in the Club’s history, last night’s win is an outstanding achievement for our long-standing partners Manchester City. On behalf of the entire team at Etihad, our congratulations go to the fans, players, team and the visionary leadership at City. We are delighted to celebrate this momentous occasion by flying the new Champions of Europe home to Manchester on their very own Club-branded aircraft.“We are sure the team will have enjoyed the highest levels of service and hospitality from our award-winning Cabin Crew as they celebrate their achievements on board,” he continued.Ferran Soriano, Chief Executive Officer, City Football Group, commented: “This is a very special moment in the Club’s history and travelling back to Manchester in a specially liveried aircraft is a fitting way to mark such a historic weekend. We are delighted to be able to share this success with Etihad and thank them for their fantastic support as a long-term partner of the club.”On the flight, the players were treated to a specially designed celebratory menu, cocktails in the team’s signature blue colour and themed treats.The City branded Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner was introduced to Etihad’s fleet in October 2019 and has since flown to and from more than 60 destinations including Manchester, Melbourne, Paris, Singapore and the Maldives from its home in Abu Dhabi.:

Vehicle owners in UAE and KSA eager about EV

Dubai: As awareness towards the availability and benefits of electric vehicles (EVs) rises across the region, seven out of ten consumers surveyed in the UAE (73%) and Saudi Arabia (69%) are eager to explore the cost savings brought about by an electric vehicle. A survey commissioned by General Motors and conducted by Morning Consult explored the state of consumer interest in EVs, as well as awareness of long-term cost savings related to EV ownership, available EV vehicle options, and charging facilities.[1]The survey found that the general awareness of the concept of electric vehicles is very high, with 95% of UAE and 93% of KSA respondents aware of all-electric vehicles. The awareness of EVs is also consistently high among all age groups and across both men and women in both countries surveyed. This heightened awareness has also translated into strong purchase consideration, with a majority in both countries (63% in Saudi Arabia and 70% in UAE) strongly considering a future EV purchase. Those reporting higher EV consideration are more likely to think this will bring them cost savings, in addition to being more likely to be aware of EV infrastructure in their nation. This favorable outlook towards EVs aligns with global EV revenue projections, anticipated to grow from around $10 billion in 2023 to approximately $90 billion annually by 2030[2]. The regional growth in consideration also aligns with carbon neutral strategies across the region, which has prompted more awareness across Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in turn driving a deeper understanding of EV offerings and their benefits. In the UAE, the study found that top drivers of increased EV consideration were tackling the elevated cost of gasoline and alleviation of environmental concerns, with 64% of those who are more likely to consider an EV in comparison to a year ago selecting each of these drivers as a reason for increased interest. Looking more closely into EV pricing in the UAE, 73% of consumers overall see EVs as having worthwhile cost savings versus a gasoline-powered vehicle.Within Saudi Arabia on the other hand, 65% of respondents are more likely to consider an EV in comparison to a year ago. 61% of those who are more likely to consider an EV in the Kingdom cite the cost of gasoline as a factor, while 47% find that there have been more affordable EV options available in the market over the past year.Another key insight derived from the study tackles range anxiety, with UAE participants revealing that the ideal driving range of an EV is approximately 325 km on average, while in KSA this was found to be approximately 360 km. What’s more, 36% of respondents with increased EV purchase consideration in the Kingdom have attributed this to stem from an understanding of the longer driving range than previously available. Featuring the Ultium battery platform, GM’s EV portfolio will be capable of a driving range of more than 400 kilometers on a single charge, depending on the vehicle, surpassing the expectations of both nations.Jack Uppal, President & Managing Director, General Motors Africa & Middle East shared, “It is promising to see the rising positive sentiment towards EVs brought to light by this Morning Consult survey. As we progress towards our vision of the future of mobility, the increase in volume and variety of EV options we are anticipating to bring to market, will respond to the shift in consumer awareness and consideration brought on by the long-term benefits of ownership – from apprehension around affordability and range, towards positive sentiment towards the ownership potential of these new technologies. We will deliver on our commitment to offer an electric vehicle for every wallet and every customer and driving this change towards a vision of future mobility across electrification, autonomy, and connectivity.”Looking more closely at infrastructure, as both countries work towards their carbon neutral visions, in the UAE, over one-third (38%) of respondents were aware of the location of at least one convenient charging station. Four out of five (80%) of those aware of a convenient charging station said one was available where they park their car at home, with highest reported availability in public parking or shared private parking. In Saudi Arabia, two out of five respondents (40%) claimed awareness of a charging station, however, only one in five (17%) found this to be in a convenient location to their home or workplace. This indicates understanding of ongoing efforts to drive forward infrastructure, as well as room for further development. Action is firmly underway on this front, with Riyadh’s ambitious goal to have 30% of all vehicles in the city be powered by electricity by 2030, while the UAE is already home to 600 charging points with a drastic growth plan to be achieved before 2050.Uppal further elaborated, “Each market will understandably have a different approach and timeframe to infrastructure solutions to accommodate for the mass rollout of electric vehicles. At GM, we are focused on a customer-centric approach by enabling charging capabilities at customers’ homes. We are firmly aligned with the regional leaders on a shared vision when it comes to an electrified future of mobility.”Supported by the positive outlook towards EVs, General Motors will continue to develop and roll out a range of solutions, and explore combinations of public infrastructure, home solutions and community solutions with local governments to suit each market’s needs. This focus feeds into ongoing work to achieving the long-term strategy in place, guided by a vision of a future with Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions and Zero Congestion.

Horizon FCB Kuwait wins Burgan Bank account

Kuwait: Horizon FCB Kuwait has announced its successful acquisition of Burgan Bank, a leading commercial bank in Kuwait, after a highly competitive selection process. As the designated Agency of Record (AOR), Horizon FCB Kuwait will assume responsibility for the bank's marketing and creative communications.In this strategic partnership, Horizon FCB Kuwait will develop and execute innovative marketing campaigns for Burgan Bank. The scope of work encompasses crafting an effective marketing strategy, implementing digital and content marketing initiatives, and launching impactful communications endeavors.This alliance marks a significant milestone for the agency, following its recent restructuring efforts. Nadin Al-Alami, the Managing Director at Horizon FCB Kuwait, expressed enthusiasm about this addition, which bolsters the agency’s client portfolio and further strengthens its foothold in the Kuwaiti market.Moreover, as part of this collaboration, the Burgan Bank brand aspires to fortify its position within the financial and banking sector, not only in Kuwait but also across the wider region.Kholoud Al-Feeli, Group Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Burgan Bank, expressed her belief that this collaboration will fuel the bank's continued growth and success in the banking sector. She emphasizes that the strategic partnership will bring a wealth of experience and creative value to Burgan Bank's marketing solutions, elevating the brand-building efforts and fostering stronger connections with the target audience.Mazen Jawad, CEO at Horizon Holdings, expressed his delight in partnering with Burgan Bank, highlighting that the agency's Never Finished approach, under the leadership of Nadin, is already delivering successful outcomes.This new account win aligns perfectly with the agency's Never Finished approach, which Nadin Al-Alami spearheads as the newly appointed Managing Director. Alami assumed the position earlier this year, bringing fresh perspectives and expertise to the organisation.At present, Horizon FCB Kuwait collaborates with a diverse range of local, national, and international businesses across various sectors, including finance, retail, food and beverage, and advertising

Irdeto signs contract with OSN for app watch and anti-piracy services

Dubai: Irdeto, the global leader in cybersecurity for digital platforms, and OSN, a prominent entertainment network in the Middle East, have signed a new contract. Under this agreement, Irdeto will offer its acclaimed App Watch, anti-piracy services, app management, and data analytics to the entertainment provider based in Dubai.Irdeto App Watch is an award-winning solution that will ensure the integrity of the apps running on OSN’s Android TV STBs while leveraging the benefits the Android TV platform brings. It also provides OSN with resources to take steps to address problematic use of apps and plug-ins.Irdeto’s solutions will provide OSN with tools to efficiently combat content piracy and protect against malicious use of applications that can impact the performance of its STBs and potential cyberattacks. Irdeto will also provide the TV operator with global and regional reporting on piracy data for apps and plug-ins and will manage the service on OSN’s behalf to ensure any unauthorized activity is flagged immediately.Irdeto has a successful track record in the region complying with complex local regulations and also has a strong local presence with multidisciplinary teams to support its clients’ needs.“Irdeto’s App Watch has made a true difference to our operations as we can protect against potential piracy more efficiently now,” said Melvin Saldanha, Director of Technology at OSN. “Irdeto’s solution will also provide insights on consumer behavior which will help the company boost advertising strategies, enhance our portfolio.” the executive added.“We’re excited to renew our partnership with our highly valued partner OSN. The consumer demand for the best quality and safe content is rising. OSN’s adoption of Irdeto App Watch and other anti-piracy solutions allows them to provide excellent service to customers across the MENA region. At the same time, we help to keep their content and customers safe and provide invaluable consumer insights.” said Andrew Bunten, COO of Video Entertainment at Irdeto.

UAE-based Islamic Coin gains over 1.3mln users

Dubai: The world of crypto is rife with risky investments. Many new coins and services ask for financial contributions with little guarantee of return, and stories of crypto investors losing large sums make headlines frequently. There is a problem of ethics and reliability in the crypto world that has proven difficult to resolve. The Haqq network, powered by Islamic Coin ($ISLM), aims to change that trend, and cater to over 2 billion Muslims worldwide.Founded in 2022, the Haqq network is based on the Haqq blockchain: the first Shariah-compliant decentralized ledger specifically designed to follow the rules and traditions of Islamic finance. Islamic Coin has a community of over 1.3M users — a feat accomplished in less than six months, demonstrating strong support and interest from global communities.In a world with growing CSR initiatives, many have taken an interest in Islamic finance products, as they promote mainly CSR businesses and even altruism and economic activity. Compared to other financial models, Islamic finance shares the risks and profits, meaning that everyone from all income levels can benefit. Islamic finance also has a specific set of industries in which it can operate with full transparency, making it an attractive financial option for Muslims and non-Muslims.Islamic Coin is the native coin of the Haqq blockchain. When a new ISLM coin is minted, 10% of the issued amount is deposited into a special Evergreen DAO for further investments into community-centric projects or charities. This devotion to charitable endeavors makes Islamic Coin one of the only cryptocurrencies on the market that bring direct economic value to local and regional communities.Current market trends indicate that the global Islamic finance market will exceed $3.69 trillion by 2024 due to rising demand for Sharia-compliant services, finances, and products..

Family businesses are the new sustainability leaders: KPMG report

Dubai: A Global Family Business Report from KPMG Private Enterprise and the STEP Project Global Consortium reveals how business families are great sustainability ambassadors, demonstrating how to embed best practices, create shared value, gain a competitive advantage and achieve long-term growth.“A road well-traveled – How family businesses are guiding the sustainability journey” brings together personal insights from the sustainability experiences of top family business leaders combined with sustainability performance data gathered from 2,439 family businesses across 70 countries and territories. The report which uses both qualitative and quantitative research, cites a multi-generational commitment to create value for all stakeholders as one of the underlying reasons enabling family businesses to excel as sustainability leaders, reflecting an important shift in mindset away from considering sustainability measures an additional cost of business, but an essential investment in the future. The report positions sustainability as a familiar concept within business families and an important part of the family legacy, a claim supported with key analysis across varying jurisdictions and sectors that reveal just how embedded sustainability practices have become in family values and business models. Investing in sustainability and operating in a sustainable way is not only viewed as the ‘right thing to do’, but it’s also becoming an essential engine and catalyst for company growth.Raajeev B Batra, Partner and Head of Private Enterprise, KPMG Lower Gulf, said: “The UAE’s family businesses have displayed a commitment to communities, and now is the time for them to make sustainability performance a part of responsible business practices, aligned with the government’s vision. UAE family businesses that deliver on their sustainability goals are more likely to see their reputations enhanced, attract, and retain top talent and generate new business opportunities.Tom McGinness, Global Leader, Family Business, KPMG Private Enterprise, KPMG International, says: “I truly believe that family businesses that successfully engage with all their stakeholders on this sustainability journey will not only survive but prosper. Those that don't step up are likely to be left behind and the choice for companies may be that binary. Family businesses have prospered based on core sustainability principles across several generations, and there are many lessons that everyone can take away from their experiences.”The report concludes that no-one can solve the world’s biggest environmental and societal issues alone and considers the time to be apt for companies across the world to tap into the experiences and know-how of business families, and to do what’s right for generations to come by making sustainability strategies their ‘business as usual’.

How AI is revolutionizing the real estate industry in Dubai

Dubai: The real estate industry is experiencing a significant transformation, fueled by technological advancements. Among these innovations, Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands out as a game-changer. According to recent data, AI in the property market is expected to reach over $1335 Bn by 2029.Realiste, a company harnessing the power of AI, is at the forefront of this revolution, aiming to create a groundbreaking real estate exchange that allows investors to identify profitable opportunities, make instant online purchases from developers, and manage assets seamlessly. By leveraging AI, Realiste is revolutionizing the real estate industry in five key ways:1. Intelligent Property Valuation and Predictions: Realiste's "Index" platform employs AI algorithms to swiftly calculate the current value of properties and provide projections for their expected value over the next five years in 10 seconds with 96% accuracy. This invaluable tool enables investors to make informed decisions regarding their real estate portfolio, maximizing profitability.2. Market Insights: Realiste's AI algorithms conduct comprehensive data analysis to generate valuable market insights. Through this service, investors can identify undervalued properties in 20 cities worldwide with significant potential for future appreciation rates. By pinpointing the top 1% of available offers, Realiste guides investors towards the most promising investment opportunities.3. Smart Portfolio Management: The "My Portfolio" smartphone app by Realiste acts as a stock tracker for real estate investments. Powered by AI, the app monitors market changes and recommends property sales or acquisitions, aiming to increase profitability and minimize risks for investors. With this tool, users can make data-driven decisions and optimize their real estate investments.4. Instant Purchasing: Realiste's real estate platform allows investors to make instant online property purchases directly from developers. By eliminating intermediaries and streamlining the purchasing process, the platform reduces transaction time, providing a seamless experience for investors.5. Location Ranking and Customization: Realiste's AI-powered platform features a unique functionality that ranks locations, projects, and developers based on multiple parameters. These parameters include access to water and parks, average price per square meter, availability of units for sale, forecasted growth in property value over the next one to five years, and more. This advanced ranking system empowers investors to identify opportunities that align with their specific preferences and investment goals."Artificial Intelligence is reshaping the real estate industry," said Alex Galtsev, CEO of Realiste. "These advancements are revolutionizing how properties are searched, bought, sold, and managed. With AI, real estate professionals can make data-driven decisions, enhance customer experiences, and drive operational efficiencies."Realiste's commitment to leveraging AI in the real estate industry underscores its dedication to providing innovative solutions that empower investors and professionals alike. PC:

Al-Futtaim Automotive leads $15mln funding round in EV startup River

Dubai: One of the Middle East’s leading automotive business, Al-Futtaim Automotive led the investment round of $15-million in the Indian electric two-wheeler startup, River. The funding series, a testament of Al-Futtaim Automotive’s commitment to supporting sustainable mobility, will bolster River’s manufacturing and distribution networks for an August 2023 delivery kick-off in India, and will enable the company to rapidly scale internationally. Paul Willis, President of Al-Futtaim Automotive, shared, “We evaluated over 50 electric two-wheeler start-ups, and are impressed by the team’s vision and relentless commitment to in-house product development. I am confident that their products will see great success, in India and internationally.” Within a short span of two years since inception, River launched its first product ‘Indie’ an urban electric scooter to rave reviews last February, having generated a fanbase within the automotive communities and global tech enthusiasts, which quickly translated into a wave of pre-bookings. The company lays a strong emphasis on innovative design and technology – made in India to build products that make an impact on the everyday lives of people. Green mobility is a major focus for Al-Futtaim Automotive, having recently launched the region’s first dedicated electric mobility focused company (Al-Futtaim Electric Mobility Company). The company is on a mission to democratize and develop the electric ecosystem in the country, with a strong portfolio of EV brands covering the full spectrum of mobility mix, charging solutions and innovative financial products.Through the investment in River, Al-Futtaim Automotive is moving the electric transition from conversation to concrete action, and is committed to mark a strong contribution to the UAE’s Net-Zero Strategy.Buoyant from the resounding interest in River, Aravind Mani, Co-Founder and CEO of River commented "At River, we've been quietly working in the background for the last two years. In just 20 months, we launched our first product, the Indie, which has by now successfully covered 100,000+ kilometres in testing. Now we’ve set the base to build a billion-dollar business and we thank all our investors for supporting us in our journey"Al-Futtaim Automotive believes that with the Indian EV sector skyrocketing, River is all set to become the mainstream electric solution, bringing style and utility to the everyday commute.Al-Futtaim Automotive is one of five divisions within the Al-Futtaim Group which provides quality products and services that enrich people’s lives and aspirations each and every day.

McDonald's highlights commitment to food safety on World Food Safety day

Dubai: On World Food Safety Day, McDonald's Saudi Arabia in the Western & Southern Region - Reza Food Services Co. Ltd. proudly emphasizes its dedication to upholding the highest standards of food safety across its restaurants. As a leader in the quick-service restaurants industry, McDonald's places the utmost importance on ensuring the well-being and satisfaction of its customers by adhering to rigorous practices, from cooking procedures and kitchen hygiene to supplier standards.Food safety lies at the core of McDonald's operations, and the company maintains exceptional quality and safety in every aspect of its business. McDonald's follows a comprehensive set of hygiene procedures, including:- Proper Hygienic Dress Code: All employees adhere to a strict dress code that ensures safety in the kitchen. Hairnets are worn at all times, and employees avoid wearing jewelry or watches.- Regular Handwashing: All kitchen staff must wash their hands regularly with soap and dry them with disposable paper towels to prevent bacterial contamination.- Color-Coded Glove System: McDonald's implements a color-coded glove system to avoid cross-contamination. Blue gloves are used for raw materials, while clear gloves are used for everything except raw meat. Employees change and dispose of gloves frequently.- Maintaining Cleanliness: Ensuring cleanliness in every area is of utmost importance. Counters are regularly cleaned and disinfected, and machines undergo daily cleaning to prevent bacterial buildup. Thorough deep cleaning of machines occurs at least once a week, where parts are disassembled, cleaned, and sanitized.McDonald's places great emphasis on sourcing high-quality ingredients and works exclusively with suppliers who share its commitment to food safety. Stringent guidelines and quality assurance protocols are established to ensure suppliers adhere to the highest industry standards.The company maintains strict processes for raw food supplier standards, guaranteeing quality and safety through:- Stringent Inspections: McDonald's conducts frequent inspections and quality checks before receiving products to ensure the highest standards are met.- Freezing and Traceability: Raw products are packaged, frozen at -18°C, and stored with traceable codes to enable batch tracking, even during transportation.- Fresh Produce Standards: McDonald's sources fresh produce grown and certified by recognized bodies. Suppliers undergo frequent inspections to monitor water quality, and produce is thoroughly sanitized before leaving their facilities.- Cooking Temperatures: McDonald's adheres to local municipality regulations and the highest standards for cooking procedures and safe minimum internal temperatures for all protein products, ensuring optimal food safety.In terms of kitchen organization, McDonald's maintains separation and uses different cutleries and boards for different product categories. Meat, poultry, and fish are separated from fresh and frozen produce. Gloves and waste bins are kept within reach of cooks for easy access and optimal hygiene practices.As World Food Safety Day brings global attention to the importance of food safety, McDonald's Saudi Arabia in the Western & Southern region reaffirms its commitment to providing customers with safe, high-quality food. With unwavering dedication, McDonald's remains at the forefront of the industry, delivering an unparalleled experience while prioritizing customer well-being.McDonald's believes in establishing transparent communication with its customers by providing specific information about its menu, including dietary and nutritional information, sourcing details, and behind-the-scenes processes.

ROSHN Group announces sponsorship of Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad FC

Riyadh: ROSHN Group, a PIF-powered giga-project and Saudi Arabia’s most trusted real estate developer, today announced a three-year deal to become the platinum sponsor of Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad FC, recently crowned champions of the ROSHN Saudi League.“We are thrilled about our sponsorship of Al Ittihad FC, the reigning champions of the RSL and a prominent force in the Saudi sports scene,” said David Grover, CEO of ROSHN Group. “Al Ittihad FC holds a significant position in the Kingdom’s sports landscape, with its extraordinary achievements, star players, and revered legends who have made immense contributions to the development of Saudi football. The club continues to demonstrate the attractiveness of Saudi football with the recent transfer of the iconic champion Karim Benzema. ROSHN is committed to increasing entertainment opportunities and promoting a healthy and active lifestyle in Saudi Arabia, and we are very excited to begin our collaboration with Al Ittihad which will hopefully deliver success to its fans,” he added.“We are very excited by our new partnership with ROSHN Group and trust that it will bring more success to our club and to the people of Jeddah. We believe that our partnership with ROSHN is important to helping us grow into challengers for continental competitions,” said Abdulwahab Abed, CEO of Al Ittihad FC.ROSHN Group began its sponsorship of the ROSHN Saudi League in August 2022 as part of the Group’s wide-reaching ambition to promote a healthy and active lifestyle for all Saudis, which has already seen the developer sponsor Saudi Arabia’s first Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2021 as a founding partner, and the inaugural LIV Golf Jeddah Invitational Series.The other party in the agreement, Al Ittihad Football Club, was founded in 1927 and has won nine Saudi league titles and two Asian Champions League titles along with seventeen domestic cup titles. It won its latest championship in the 2022-2023 season, the first year of the league being called the “ROSHN Saudi League”, under the stewardship of Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo, following a close-fought title race Al Nassr F.C.ROSHN Group is transforming the country’s urban landscape with a vision of a new way of living, aiming to become one of the most disruptive real estate developers in the region. Following the successful launch of ROSHN’s flagship residential community, SEDRA, ROSHN’s second community and the first in the Makkah region, ALAROUS, was launched to develop 4 million sqm of land in the north of Jeddah. Blending the local Western Regional architecture with modern design and technology, ALAROUS offers a range of villas, duplexes, townhouses, and multifamily units, available for purchase through ROSHN’s Jeddah Sales Centre.

Saudi-based blockchain company IR4LAB forays into Africa

Riyadh: During Gitex Africa, held in Morocco from 31 May – 2 June 2023, IR4LAB, a Saudi-based company specialized in disruptive technologies such as Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence., announced that it would be expanding its operations into Africa.The expansion is part of IR4LAB’s commitment to the African continent and their aim to spur innovation in deep technologies and implement use cases utilizing IR4LAB’s Blockchain solution, DocCerts as well as other solutions offered.Mohamed El Kandri, CTO and Co-Founder of IR4LAB, who made the announcement at the event, stated, “We are happy to be expanding into the African market. We believe that Africa’s digital economy will grow and we want to be part of this growth in innovation and digitization, but also building local capabilities right from Morocco to Africa”.According to Mckinsey & Company, Africa’ digital economy should top $712 billion by 2050 fostered by its youthful population, smartphone adoption, and internet penetration.Majd AL AFIFI, CEO and Co-Founder of IR4LAB adds, “More and more blockchain entities are setting up base in Africa, but we are glad that IR4LAB will be the first from Saudi Arabia to do so with the support of our leadership”.This was not their first participation in Africa. In March at the first World Maintenance Summit 2023, held between 11th-12th May at King Mohamed 6 University in Marrakech (Morocco), organized by Morocco’s largest group OCP and its subsidiary OCP MS, IR4LAB presented on the use of Blockchain in industrial maintenance in general and specifically in industrial inspection.At the event EL KANDRI highlighted the role that Blockchain could play in maintenance 4.0 and the benefits of using Blockchain in industrial inspection, he has also provided real life examples from IR4LAB’s current projects.Prior to this During Saudi’s leading tech event LEAP 2023, held between February 7th-9th in Riyadh KSA, IR4LAB and SGS (Saudi Ground Services), jointly announced the implementation of DocCerts Blockchain management solution for all training related digital documents and ground service equipment licenses issued by SGS at 28 Saudi Arabian airports where SGS provides ground services.IR4LAB, also recently was accepted into the Ministry of Communications Information Technology tech champions accelerator program powered by Silicon Valley’s Plug and play. Plug and Play was an early investor in Google, PayPal, Dropbox, LendingClub, N26, Soundhound, Honey, Kustomer, and Guardant Health.

Top 3 deepfake threat scenarios users face in 2023

Dubai: The number of deepfake videos online is increasing at an annual rate of 900% according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). A lot of deepfake fraud cases hit major headlines in the news, with reports relating to harassment, revenge, crypto scams. Kaspersky researchers are shedding light on the top three fraud schemes using deepfakes that users should look out for.The use of neural networks and deep learning (hence ‘deep fake’) has allowed users from all over the world to apply images, video and audio materials to create realistic videos of a person in which their face or body has been digitally altered so that they appear to be someone else. These manipulated videos and images are frequently used for malicious purposes to spread false information.Financial FraudDeepfakes can be used for social engineering, where criminals use enhanced images to impersonate celebrities to bait victims into falling for their scams. For example, an artificially created video of Elon Musk promising high returns from a dubious cryptocurrency investment scheme went viral last year, causing users to lose their money. To create deepfakes like this one, scammers use footage of celebrities or splice together old videos, and launch live streams on social media platforms, promising to double any cryptocurrency payment sent to them.Pornographic deepfakesAnother use for deepfakes is to violate an individual's privacy. Deepfake videos can be created by manipulating a person’s face onto a pornographic video, causing harm and distress. In one case, deepfake videos of some celebrities surfaced online, showing their faces superimposed onto the bodies of pornographic actresses in explicit scenes. As a consequence, in such cases, the attack victims have their reputation harmed and rights violated.Business risksOften, deepfakes are even used to target businesses for crimes such as extortion from company managers, blackmail and industrial espionage. For instance, there is a known case where cybercriminals managed to deceive a bank manager in the UAE and steal $35 million, using a voice deepfake – just a small recording of employee’s boss’s voice was enough to generate a convincing deepfake. In another case, scammers tried to fool the largest cryptocurrency platform, Binance. The Binance executive was surprised when he started receiving “thank you!” messages about a Zoom meeting he never attended. With his publicly available images, the attackers managed to generate a deepfake and successfully apply it at an online meeting, speaking for the executive.In general, the aims of scammers who exploit deepfakes include disinformation and manipulation of public opinion, blackmail or even espionage. HR managers are already on alert regarding the use of deepfakes by candidates who apply for remote work, according to an FBI warning. In the case of Binance, attackers used images of people from the Internet to create deepfakes and were even able to add the photos of these people to resumes. If they manage to trick HR managers in this way and later receive an offer, they can steal employer data.While the number of deepfakes is increasing, it remains an expensive type of fraud which requires a big budget. Earlier research by Kaspersky revealed cost of deepfakes on the darknet. If an ordinary user finds software on the Internet and tries to make a deepfake, the result will be unrealistic and obvious to the human eye. Few people will buy into a poor quality deepfake: they will notice lags in facial expression or a blurring of the shape of the chin.Therefore, when cybercriminals are preparing for an attack, they will need a big amount of data: photos, videos and audio of the person they want to impersonate. Different angles, brightness of lighting, facial expressions, all play a big role in the final quality. For the result to be realistic, up-to-date computer power and software is necessary. All this demands a huge amount of resources and is only available to a small number of cybercriminals. Therefore, despite the dangers that a deepfake can provide, it is still an extremely rare threat and only a small number of buyers will be able to afford it – after all, the price for one minute of a deepfake can start from 20,000 US dollars.“One of the most serious threats that deepfake poses to business is not always the theft of corporate data. Sometimes reputational risks can have very severe consequences. Imagine a video is published in which your executive (apparently) makes polarizing statements on sensitive issues. For corporations, this can quickly lead to a crash in share prices. However, despite the fact that the risks of such a threat are extremely high, the chance that you will be attacked in this way remains extremely low due to the cost of creating deepfakes and the fact that few attackers are able to create a high-quality deepfake,” comments Dmitry Anikin, a senior security expert at Kaspersky. “What you can do today is to be aware of the key characteristics of deepfake videos to look out and keep a skeptical attitude to voicemail and videos you receive. Also, ensure your employees understand what deepfake is and how they can recognize it: for instance, jerky movement, shifts in skin tone, strange blinking or no blinking at all, and so on.”Continuous monitoring of darknet resources provides valuable insights into the deepfake industry, allowing researchers to track the latest trends and activities of threat actors in this space. By monitoring the darknet, researchers can uncover new tools, services, and marketplaces used for the creation and distribution of deepfakes. This type of monitoring is a critical component of deepfake research, and helps improve our understanding of the evolving threat landscape. Kaspersky's Digital Footprint Intelligence service includes this type of monitoring to help its customers stay ahead of the curve when it comes to deepfake-related threats.Learn more about the deepfake industry on Kaspersky Daily.To be protected from threats related to deepfakes, Kaspersky recommends:Check the cybersecurity practices in place in your organization – not only in the form of software, but also in terms of developed IT skills. Use Kaspersky Threat Intelligence to get ahead of the current threat landscape.Boost the corporate “human firewall”: ensure the employees understand what deepfakes are, how they work, and the challenges they can pose. Have ongoing awareness and education drives on teaching employees how to spot a deepfake. Kaspersky Automated Security Awareness Platform helps employees to stay up-to-date with the most recent threats and increases the digital literacy levels.Use good quality news sources. Information illiteracy remains a crucial enabler for the proliferation of deepfakes.Have good protocols like ‘trust but verify.’ A skeptical attitude to voicemail and videos will not guarantee people will never be deceived, but it can help avoid many of the most common traps.Be aware of the key characteristics of deepfake videos to look out for to avoid becoming a victim: jerky movement, shifts in lighting from one frame to the next, shifts in skin tone, strange blinking or no blinking at all, lips poorly synched with speech, digital artifacts on the image, video intentionally encoded down in quality and has poor lighting.

Dubai International Chamber attracts five MNCs and 20 SMEs during Q1 2023

Dubai: Dubai International Chamber, one of the three chambers operating under Dubai Chambers, has announced details of several notable achievements in attracting foreign direct investment and supporting chamber members in their efforts to expand into global markets.The chamber attracted five Multinational Corporations (MNCs) and 20 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) during Q1 2023 alone, which exceeds the total numbers attracted throughout the whole of 2022. In addition, the chamber also supported the expansion of seven local and national companies into foreign markets by helping them increase their exports or establish a presence abroad.The Chamber also opened a new representative office in Hong Kong, bringing the total number of its international offices to 16 by the end of Q1 2023 with a presence in Africa, Latin America, Eurasia, India, China, and the Middle East. The opening of these offices comes as part of the Dubai Global initiative, which was launched by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, and is led by Dubai International Chamber. The initiative aims to establish a powerful network of 50 commercial representative offices for Dubai across five continents by 2030.H.E. Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman of Dubai International Chamber, highlighted the vital role the Chamber plays in consolidating Dubai’s position as a global destination for foreign direct investments and a launchpad for expansion into global markets. His Excellency further emphasised the significant contribution of the Chamber’s international offices to promoting Dubai as a city for business, talent, capital, and companies of all types and sizes.“Participating in exhibitions and conferences and organising bilateral business meetings abroad are at the core of the Chamber’s efforts to support the global expansion of Dubai’s private sector,” H.E. bin Sulayem added. “Our trade mission to the Central Asian markets was a prime example and achieved its goal to enable participants to forge new business relations that will soon mature into economic partnerships. Dubai International Chamber remains committed to supporting the emirate’s target of boosting the volume of non-oil foreign trade from AED1.4 trillion to AED2 trillion by 2026.”Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President and CEO of Dubai Chambers, commented: “We launched several new initiatives in Q1 2023, most notably the International Partner Network, which aims to enhance cross-border dialogue between the chamber and commercial attachés and business councils. In addition, the network will enrich interaction, communication, and partnerships to accelerate the implementation of the chambers’ plans and support the interests of Dubai’s business community.”The chamber intensified its efforts to support Dubai-based companies in their plans for global expansion with the launch of the New Horizons initiative to support the expansion plans of its member companies. The initiative is aimed at forming trade missions consisting of companies from the emirate to visit targeted global markets, where events and meetings will be held to explore investment opportunities and prospects for joint economic partnerships. The first mission targeted the Central Asia region and included more than 430 bilateral business meetings between representatives of 24 companies from Dubai and their counterparts in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.Dubai International Chamber is focused on strengthening partnerships with global corporations, investors, and entrepreneurs and working to boost Dubai’s status as a major global trading hub. The chamber contributes to achieving Dubai’s vision to expand to new global markets, forge new economic partnerships, and support local companies in achieving global success, while also attracting promising talent and investors from around the world. It has outlined plans to cover 30 international markets of strategic importance to Dubai through its network of international representative offices.

Spotify, Gamers8, Kerning Cultures unite to empower Saudi gamers in podcast

Spotify, Gamers8, and Kerning Cultures have united to establish a powerful partnership, introducing Pod Camp, a groundbreaking 6-week podcast boot camp exclusively designed to support aspiring gaming podcast creators in Saudi Arabia. This collaborative effort aims to empower and equip passionate gamers with the necessary skills to successfully launch and sustain their podcasts.Pod Camp presents a groundbreaking opportunity for passionate gaming enthusiasts to transform their podcasting aspirations into reality. This exclusive 6-week boot camp, a collaborative effort by Spotify, Gamers8, and Kerning Cultures, aims to empower and equip aspiring gaming podcast creators in Saudi Arabia with the necessary skills to launch and sustain successful podcasts.Tailored to the specific needs of newcomers to the gaming podcast scene, Pod Camp offers a comprehensive crash course in podcasting. Participants will delve into vital aspects such as show development, distribution strategies, audience growth, and more. The program ensures that participants gain valuable insider knowledge and insights, setting them up for podcasting success.Leveraging the expertise and local relevance of renowned podcast production company Kerning Cultures, Pod Camp provides participants with a comprehensive curriculum. The program includes mentorship from industry professionals and guest speakers who will offer invaluable guidance throughout the course. Topics covered in the sessions span a wide range, encompassing "Podcasts and Gaming," "The Editorial Process," "Sound Gear and Recording," "Audio Editing," "Sound and Publishing - Spotify for Podcasters," and more.The participants of Pod Camp will be meticulously selected by a jury comprising representatives from Spotify, Gamers8, and Kerning Cultures. The announcement of the chosen participants will take place on July 1, 2023.A standout feature of the program is the live podcast show held during the esteemed global gaming and Esports festival, Gamers8. This platform enables participants to release their podcasts and gain exposure through the support and endorsement of Gamers8, Spotify, and Kerning Cultures. The interactive live podcast show will take place during the event, allowing podcasters to present their shows to a live audience, further amplifying their reach and impact.Rhea Chedid, Senior Podcast Manager at Spotify MENA, emphasized the commitment of Spotify to nurture aspiring podcast creators in Saudi Arabia. Chedid stated, "We believe that people should be equipped with the right tools to create content around what they are passionate about. We’ve seen that Saudi Arabia has a thriving gaming community, and we wanted to ensure gaming content creators, players, and superfans have the chance to communicate their passions through storytelling and podcasts."Maher Ali, Chief of Staff at Kerning Cultures, highlighted the parallel growth of podcasting and gaming as modern-day adaptations of the region's age-old traditions of storytelling and community. Ali expressed excitement about working with Spotify and Gamers8 to train aspiring game-focused podcasters through this comprehensive six-week training program.Omar Batterjee, Director of Corporate Communications & Public Relations at Saudi Esports Federation, emphasized the importance of music and audio experiences in esports and gaming. Batterjee announced the strategic collaboration with Spotify and Kerning Cultures, aimed at providing gaming enthusiasts with a clear pathway to the exciting realm of podcasting. Through the synergy of esports, technology, and entertainment, the collaboration seeks to inspire the gaming community and foster the next generation of podcast creators in the Kingdom.Applications for Pod Camp are now open, offering gaming enthusiasts the chance to shape the future of gaming podcasts in Saudi Arabia. Interested individuals are encouraged to register today, with the application deadline set for June 22, 2023.pc:

The Trade Desk launches AI-powered new media buying platform

Dubai: Ventura: Global advertising technology leader The Trade Desk has launched Kokai, a new approach to digital advertising innovation that incorporates major advances in distributed artificial intelligence (AI), measurement, partner integrations and a revolutionary, intuitive user experience. With these innovations and others, Kokai ensures that marketers at all levels can easily benefit from the full power and sophistication of programmatic advertising.In a major advancement in programmatic AI, Kokai distributes deep learning algorithms across all aspects of the digital media buying process. With access to more than 13 million advertising impressions every second, each of which may contain thousands of distinct signals, Kokai’s AI innovations serve as a co-pilot to the programmatic marketer, helping make sense of that complexity in a few milliseconds – in order to help advertisers buy the right ad impressions, at the right price, to reach the target audience at the best time.Kokai’s distributed AI capabilities build on The Trade Desk’s pioneering AI work with Koa, launched in 2018. While Koa assisted the marketer in setting up campaigns based on business objectives and optimizing based on performance, Kokai distributes the power of Koa’s AI across various aspects of media buying on The Trade Desk platform. This includes predictive clearing, which ensures traders make bids at the optimal level; scoring every ad impression based on relevance to the advertiser; upgrading measurement and forecasting; increasing resilience, even in the absence of identifiers; budget optimization; and KPI scoring.“The Trade Desk benefits from a rich yet highly complex dataset with very high integrity. With Kokai, we are able to help our clients make sense of that data with AI, and help the marketer make the best decisions at every turn,” said Jeff Green, Founder and CEO, The Trade Desk. “Building on our ground-breaking work with Koa, we are distributing AI across our platform, so that it can serve as an expertly trained co-pilot to today’s modern marketer.”Kokai will also feature major new innovations in digital advertising measurement. As more advertisers embrace the power of connected TV (CTV) and retail media marketing opportunities, there is more demand to develop new ways to measure performance in these key channels. With Kokai, The Trade Desk will be launching:  Added-value retail measurement data from pioneer retailers including Albertsons Media Collective, Walgreens Advertising Group, and others when audience data is turned on.  The Retail Sales Index – A new benchmark for measuring online and offline retail sales against retail ad spend – in one place.  The TV Quality Index – Measuring the quality of the ad experience that the viewer is having across all streaming platforms and streaming content, to ensure that every campaign targets the most relevant inventory for any specific audience group.  The Quality Reach Index – Helping marketers expand their loyal customer base by accurately targeting the most relevant customer profiles. Partner Portal for Simple, Seamless IntegrationsConsidering the accelerated rate and pace of innovation in advertising technology, Kokai will also feature the Partner Portal, where thousands of new partners will be able to integrate directly with The Trade Desk using simple, standard adapters. As a result, advertisers will have access to a wide array of trusted partners and services, creating an essential innovation hub of the open internet. At launch, the Partner Portal will incorporate standard adapters for key areas such as OpenPath, Unified ID 2.0, retail onboarding, measurement and third-party audience data and contextual targeting. In alpha phase, the Partner Portal …

Tech Hub: Sharjah's Research Park paves the way for coding, gaming and digital

Abu Dhabi:  Sharjah, known for its commitment to innovation and technology, is witnessing the rapid growth of a thriving coding, gaming, and Digitization ecosystem within its Research Technology and Innovation Park (STRIP). This dynamic environment is fostering collaboration, entrepreneurship, and technological advancements in the emirate.STRIP has become a hub for startups, tech companies, and educational institutions focused on coding, gaming, and Digitization. The park offers state-of-the-art facilities, incubation programs, and access to cutting-edge technologies, attracting talented individuals and companies alike.One of the key drivers of this ecosystem is the emphasis on coding education. STRIP has partnered with educational institutions to provide training programs, workshops, and courses in coding and computer science. These initiatives aim to equip the workforce with the necessary skills to thrive in the digital age. Additionally, the park hosts coding competitions and hackathons, fostering a culture of innovation and healthy competition among aspiring programmers."Game On! Sharjah's Research Park Powers Up the Gaming Industry"The gaming industry is also gaining significant momentum within STRIP. Local game development studios have emerged, creating engaging and immersive gaming experiences. These studios collaborate with international partners and leverage STRIP's resources to develop and launch their products. The park's supportive environment encourages entrepreneurship and provides access to mentors, investors, and potential business opportunities.Digitization is a key focus within STRIP, with various initiatives aimed at driving digital transformation across industries. Companies in sectors such as healthcare, finance, logistics, and manufacturing are leveraging digital technologies to enhance their operations, improve efficiency, and deliver innovative solutions. The park serves as a catalyst for collaboration between technology providers and industry players, fostering the adoption of Digitization Digitization on a broader scale.The success of the coding, gaming, and Digitization ecosystem in STRIP can be attributed to the visionary leadership and strategic initiatives undertaken by the emirates of Sharjah. The emirate's commitment to fostering innovation and providing an enabling environment for technology-driven sectors has positioned it as a regional hub for coding, gaming, and Digitization.As the ecosystem continues to evolve, STRIP remains dedicated to nurturing talent, supporting startups, and attracting investments in coding, gaming, and Digitization. The emirate's focus on research, technology, and innovation ensures that it remains at the forefront of the digital revolution, driving economic growth and societal development."Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTIP, invites specialized companies to be part of this ecosystem and join the Park to receive the necessary support. We have a network of local and international relations that can assist these companies in reaching potential customers, investors, and the necessary funding.In conclusion, Sharjah's Research Technology and Innovation Park has successfully cultivated a vibrant coding, gaming, and Digitization ecosystem. Through its educational programs, supportive environment, and focus on digital transformation, the park is fostering entrepreneurship, technological advancements, and collaboration. With its strategic vision, Sharjah is poised to become a leading center for coding, gaming, and Digitization in the region.

Ooredoo to recruit 100% Kuwaiti leadership talents in communication & technology

Kuwait: Ooredoo, a world-class telecommunications provider in Kuwait, reaffirms its dedication to driving Kuwaitization initiatives by committing to nurturing and developing young local talent.With a focus on diverse fields such as technology and integrated communications, the company aims to maximize productivity, engagement, and skill development to enhance company performance and customer satisfaction while making a meaningful impact on Kuwaiti society.Talent Acquisition and Optimization:Recognizing the crucial role of optimizing employee performance in long-term success, Ooredoo places significant emphasis on supporting Kuwaiti talents and empowering the next generation across various fields. With a majority of its executives being Kuwaitis, the company is committed to fostering the growth of local talent within the organization."Our vision is to develop a highly skilled Kuwaiti workforce and empower them to shape the future of the telecommunications industry. We take immense pride in our significant progress in Kuwaitization: over the past two years, 95% of our executives have been Kuwaitis.This accomplishment demonstrates our unwavering dedication to supporting local talent and creating abundant opportunities for young Kuwaitis to excel.At Ooredoo, we foster a performance-oriented culture that aims to enable employees to achieve their goals in perfect alignment with the company's strategic objectives. To further enhance this, we have implemented competitive rewards and recognition schemes that not only acknowledge but also celebrate the achievements of our top performers," said Abdulaziz Al-Babtain, CEO of Ooredoo Kuwait.He then added: “By making substantial investments in the growth of our employees, empowering them with invaluable skills, and providing ample opportunities for development, we cultivate an environment of perpetual growth and progress."At Ooredoo, we foster a performance-oriented culture that aims to enable employees to achieve their goals in perfect alignment with the company's strategic objectives. To further enhance this, we have implemented competitive rewards and recognition schemes that not only acknowledge but also celebrate the achievements of our top performers," said Abdulaziz Al-Babtain, CEO of Ooredoo Kuwait.He then added: “By making substantial investments in the growth of our employees, empowering them with invaluable skills, and providing ample opportunities for development, we cultivate an environment of perpetual growth and progress."Human Resources Strategy and University Partnerships:Furthermore, Ooredoo takes pride in its collaboration with universities, establishing partnerships to kick off summer internship programs for young Kuwaiti talent. Through internships, university alumni programs, and other initiatives, the company provides valuable experience and opportunities for young Kuwaitis to contribute to Ooredoo's success."We are delighted to collaborate with universities and offer internship programs that empower young Kuwaiti talents. These programs provide them with a platform to contribute to Ooredoo's success while gaining valuable experience," said Omar Al Bassam, Chief Human Resources Officer at Ooredoo Kuwait.Enabling Digital Transformation and Career Opportunities:Aligned with its vision, the company strives to equip its employees with the necessary tools and resources to thrive in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. Ooredoo provides growth opportunities through modern learning and development platforms to enrich their knowledge and skills, offering avenues for advancement in their professional lives within the organization.The company also implements various reward and recognition programs, appreciating and rewarding employees who excel in their performance and achievements, as they are the cornerstone of Ooredoo's success and ambassadors wherever they go.The company's new tagline, 'Upgrade Your World,' embodies its dedication to enabling human progress and continuous improvement.Ooredoo remains steadfast in its mission to upgrade lives and connect people through state-of-the-art telecommunications solutions. In line with its commitment to development and innovation, the company announces the introduction of new career opportunities within its organization. Ooredoo recognizes the growing importance of data science, artificial intelligence, ICT, digital marketing, and other cutting-edge technologies, inviting individuals with a passion for technology and a drive for innovation to join its team.“At Ooredoo, we invite distinguished Kuwaiti talents, from recent graduates to experienced professionals, to join the world of communications with our dynamic team. We are soon launching an employment program, O-academy, to attract fresh graduates from private and public universities. In addition, our doors are open to job seekers in various specialties and sectors, including technical and specialized jobs in the fields of strategy, communications, information technology, and human resources”, highlighted Al BassamAs Ooredoo paves the way for digital transformation, the company remains committed to creating a dynamic and progressive work environment where employees can unleash their potential and contribute to the exciting advancements happening in the industry.

Communicate hosts the region’s first ‘Women to Watch’ conference

Dubai: Communicate, a community-driven platform for MENA’s media, creative, marketing, and advertising industries, is set to host its first-ever Women to Watch Conference. Under the theme of ‘Breaking Through Stereotypes in the Industry,’ the conference aims to challenge gender stereotypes and spark a creative transformation across various sectors in the MENA region to eradicate gender gap and foster inclusivity.This half-day conference is scheduled to take place on the 15th June 2023 in Dubai’s Al Habtoor Palace Hotel and will host visionary leaders and change-makers from across the spectrum.In recent years, the MENA region has come a long way in positioning women as industry leaders and driven professionals, with governments and institutions introducing pioneering reforms and an increasing number of women defying boundaries and pursuing their ambitions. The Women to Watch Conference endeavours to delve into the current status of these trailblazing women, hailing from diverse industries and start-ups, and explore the paths they have traversed to become who they are today. By providing valuable insights into their experiences, this conference aims to identify and address the persistent presence of gender stereotypes, paving the way for tangible, positive and transformational change. This event will serve as a catalyst for dialogue on critical subjects, including innovative workshops and Long Table discussions.The Women to Watch Conference invites individuals from all walks of life who share a passion for exploring how organizational culture can embrace gender equality to fuel innovation and foster growth to participate in the audience. With a diverse line-up of over 30 industry experts who have been instrumental in paving the way for change, attendees will have the opportunity to share their own valuable insights, and forge meaningful connections with about 150 peers who have encountered similar experiences in the region.Formerly known as Marketing to Women, the event has undergone a profound transformation to better align with the evolving landscape and create a safe and inclusive space for tackling the real challenges faced by women in the industry. As a socially conscious organization, Communicate acknowledges its role in fostering meaningful discussions on gender equality, celebrating the accomplishments of women, and driving a progressive agenda.Distinguished speakers at the conference include:  Abigail Laursen - Marketing Communications Director, Nestle Middle East  Lynn Chouman - Managing Editor, Linkedin News  Sewar Azzouni - Head of Talent Transformation - Middle East & Turkey - Publicis Groupe  Annie Arsane - Regional Head of Marketing, GBS METAP - TikTok/Bytedance  Damian Brown - Group Head of Talent, Chalhoub Group  Amani Al Atat - Client Servicing Director, Memac Ogilvy Riyadh  Weera Saad - Regional Director of Creative Shop, META  Sina Port - Head Of Communications, Adidas United Voices, Adidas  Reem Alattas - Director, Value Advisory - SAP and DataNaut at NASA  Rachel Dunn - Communications Director MEA (Chair of GWPR), Microsoft  Suzanne Guzzo - CMO, GM Middle East and Africa  Joyce Baz - Head of PR & Communication, Google MENA  Anastasiya Golovatenko, PR Director, Sherpa Communications  Noha Hefny - Sr. Consultant Strategic Partnerships and Communications, UNWomen  Injeel Moti - Founder and Managing Director, Catch Communications The event will feature a series of engaging sessions, including Workshop by UNWomen x Unstereotype Alliance x ABG: Invisible Barriers to Workplace Gender Equality: Women's Perspectives  The Saudi Experience: How Saudi Arabia is turning the tables for women in creativity  The Power of Sisterhood: Why and how female mentors and role models have a huge role to play  Facts and Fiction: A definitive snapshot of the gender gap in the MENA creative and innovation-led industries Overworked and Under-Recognized? How to develop a corporate culture that embraces DEI, ensures women's growth, and rewards them appropriatelyAs a part of Communicate’s approach to empower women across the region, the platform is also running the ‘Women Who Inspire’ campaign across all its platforms. The campaign presents an invaluable opportunity for professionals, irrespective of their field of work, seniority or designation to recognize and nominate their female colleagues who have served as a wellspring of inspiration, motivation, and personal growth to them. Selected nominees will be duly acknowledged and celebrated on Communicate's influential social platforms.

Glad Dibetso appointed as the new group CEO of inq

Dubai: Group today announced the appointment of seasoned industry leader Glad Dibetso to succeed Nick Reed. Dibetso will become CEO Designate from 1 July 2023 working alongside Reed who will remain on as part of the transition process. The move is part of the Board approved succession plan.inq. recently completed its acquisition of Syrex, a provider of hyperconverged cloud technology solutions, adding South Africa to its footprint across the Continent. Dibetso hopes to continue to bolster inq. to become a truly pan-African business, consolidating its traditional connectivity business and accelerating EdgeDock®, inq.’s unique digital service offering. Dibetso said, “I am excited to be joining inq. and leading the charge in co-creating innovative connectivity and digital solutions that are fundamental to enterprises across public and private sectors.”Andile Ngcaba, Executive Chairman, inq. commented: “we are pleased to welcome on board Glad. He will drive inq. Edge cloud strategy, Edge AI and East, West and Southern Africa submarine to Edge connectivity. He is an agile leader with domain knowledge and an excellent track record of success in working with hyperscalers and global OEMs in diverse African cultures and geographies. We look forward to his contribution in creating a leading player that services global carriers and regional enterprises. We also wish to thank Nick for his leadership of the Group.”

Viola Outdoor launches taxi-top digital media screens from the UAE capital

Abu Dhabi: Viola Outdoor, a division of Viola Communications, the Abu Dhabi-based media communications specialists, has announced the launch of an innovative leap in the DOOH media arena in a joint venture with Firefly, a leading pioneer in the field of mobile marketing media solutions. The partnership will introduce Firefly’s roof-top digital LED screens to Abu Dhabi’s Tawasul fleet of taxis, vastly expanding the reach of Viola’s portfolio of Digital Out Of Home products.Ammar Sharaf, Group CEO and Board Member of Viola Communications, said: “I am delighted that Viola Communications is at the vanguard of digitalisation of the outdoor marketing infrastructure of the UAE capital. We have been introducing innovations in OOH throughout our history in Abu Dhabi with our lamppost, bus and bridge banner advertising. Since we launched our digital OOH transformation plan, our goal has remained constant - to help advertisers reach people in key, premium areas with the highest quality sites and screens. Accomplishing the implementation of the capital’s first digital bridge banner network on highly visible key arterial routes was a fantastic milestone, soon to be augmented by the installation of digital Totem.Lights™ on the streets of Abu Dhabi. Now, with the addition of Firefly’s dynamic industry-leading digital vehicle-top screens, we are providing unique eye-level marketing opportunities in association with Tawasul taxis.”Sharaf explained that Firefly’s unique vehicle-top LED screens use proprietary GPS and internet connections offer brands the exciting opportunity to capture the attention of passers-by through geo-targeted and dynamic messaging capabilities, adding: “Viola Outdoor’s partnership with Firefly and Tawasul is a game-changing addition to the marketeers’ arsenal and I am delighted that we are leading the field by contributing to the adoption of smart technologies across the DOOH landscape in line with the digital transformation strategy of the Abu Dhabi government, and enhancing the experience.”The addition of Firefly’s programmable vehicle top LED screens to Viola’s digital portfolio via Tawasul’s taxi fleet will ensure the widest possible coverage for advertisers, as the vehicles boast an average 23,000 passengers driven a distance of 350,000 km per day throughout every zone, street, and area of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, journeys that are additionally enhanced by Viola Outdoors’ digital bridge banners and Totem.Lights™.Sharaf concluded by saying that Viola Outdoors’ harnessing of the power of digital is driving the visibility of the UAE capital’s digital transformation to a smart city, saying: “As an organization that has grown and matured alongside Abu Dhabi, we are proud to be introducing smart network solutions such as these to the industry. In this way, Viola is leading the adoption of sophisticated systems of connectivity which benefit both the advertiser and the audience in equal measures, and as an agent of change, we are innovating while better serving our clients’ needs.

Emirates Draw supports young cancer fighter, celebrating weekend success

Dubai: Emirates Draw has captured attention since its inception, captivating players with thrilling gaming experiences while also prioritizing sustainability and community outreach. This week, the organization has displayed an act of generosity and solidarity by extending support to Carmen, a courageous 3-year-old Egyptian girl battling cancer and autism at the Sara Centre for Rehabilitation and Speech Therapy in Sharjah.Moreover, the weekend brought an incredible wave of winners across Emirates Draw’s three exhilarating games: EASY6, FAST5, and MEGA7. The outcome surpassed all expectations, with an astonishing total of 11,330 fortunate winners walking away with AED 959,825 in prizes.The Sara Centre is reliant on individuals and companies for financial resources and often faces challenges in the treatment of their patients. In line with its mission, Emirates Draw aims to transform lives through its weekly prizes and give back to the community through its flagship Coral Reef Restoration Programme."Our vision goes beyond the realms of gaming experience. We strive to bring positive change in people's lives and create a more sustainable future for our community and generations to come," said Mohammad Behroozian Alawadhi, Managing Partner at Emirates Draw. "Carmen's determination is inspiring, and we believe that by supporting her, we can inspire others to join in our mission to create a ripple effect of goodwill."Dr. Sara Al Eis, Psychologist and Director of the Sara Rehabilitation and Speech Therapy Center, expressed her deep gratitude for the collaboration between the Center and Emirates Draw. She said, "Emirates Draw's visit to our center was truly inspiring and touched our hearts deeply. The organisation’s genuine interest in our programs and generous support for Carmen, one of our cherished children undergoing treatment for Cancer and Autism, have left a lasting impact. We are excited to nurture this collaboration for a brighter future together."Dr. Sara further emphasized her appreciation for Emirates Draw’s Coral Reef Restoration Programme. She highlighted its significance in preserving marine ecosystems and the valuable medicinal benefits of corals for treating diseases, including cancer.Emirates Draw's Coral Reef Restoration Programme exemplifies a remarkable fusion of compassion and scientific exploration. The organization's efforts to plant Gorgonian coral fragments along the UAE coastline hold the potential to revolutionize cancer treatments. Recent discoveries have uncovered the captivating chemical and biological properties of corals, unveiling their medicinal and therapeutic value. These findings offer an exciting opportunity for combatting various cancers and other diseases.Corals, in their innate defense mechanism, produce chemicals that safeguard their habitat, to protect their territory, preventing invading organisms or diseases from multiplying and gaining ground. By supporting Carmen and engaging in marine conservation efforts, Emirates Draw demonstrates its dedication to its mission.Furthermore, Emirates Draw aligns its sustainability agenda with the World Oceans Day on June 8, recognizing the crucial role oceans play in nurturing life on our planet. Through its flagship programme, the organization not only restores marine life but also contributes to worldwide efforts for sustainable management of our oceans.In addition to gorgonian corals, the eastern region of the UAE serves as a vibrant aquatic sanctuary, hosting an array of other corals, including the stunning acropora, elkhorn and staghorn. Emirates Draw has been instrumental in enriching this marine biodiversity, having successfully implanted more than 9,503 coral fragments using eco-friendly materials. This effort has led to the growth of a significant underwater coral region spanning 6,938 sqm. Through 1,930 scuba dives in locations like Khorfakkan and Dibba, a dedicated team of divers and volunteers from diverse backgrounds have contributed to the program's success and the overall enhancement of marine life in the UAE."World Oceans Day provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the impact of our actions on the planet's oceans and marine life. Our Coral Reef Restoration Programme is testament in making a difference and encouraging a global movement towards sustainable ocean management," shared Mohammad Behroozian Alawadhi.Emirates Draw's accomplishments in social and environmental domains, achieved through gaming activities and a strong commitment to community support and environmental sustainability, demonstrate a promising vision of a compassionate and sustainable future. Every purchase and participation in their games becomes a meaningful contribution to a greater cause, providing hope to individuals and nurturing our planet for future generations.The upcoming games will be live streamed across Emirates Draw's digital platforms, YouTube, Facebook, and the official website. Be the next lucky winner and book your numbers early!

GCC companies embrace AI to unlock value: McKinsey report

Dubai: A recent survey conducted by McKinsey & Company in partnership with the GCC Board Directors Institute has shed light on the current state of AI adoption in the GCC region. While some notable success stories have been publicized, the survey results indicate that there is still significant untapped value in AI implementation across various sectors in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.According to the survey, 62% of the 119 senior executives and board directors surveyed reported that AI is being used in at least one business function in their organisations. Although this figure aligns with North American adoption rates, it highlights that there is substantial potential for further AI utilization in the GCC region.The survey findings revealed that different sectors in the GCC countries have varying levels of AI adoption. Retail companies emerged as the fastest adopters of AI, with 75% of respondents from this sector indicating that their companies have implemented AI in at least one business function. On the other hand, financial services and capital projects and infrastructure sectors reported lower levels of progress in AI implementation.Several factors contribute to the discrepancy in AI adoption rates among sectors. Energy and materials companies, driven by international competition, have been early investors in AI to enhance efficiency in production, distribution, and maintenance processes. Retail companies, already possessing vast amounts of consumer data, have leveraged this data to expedite AI implementation. However, some industries face challenges related to data collection and infrastructure limitations, making it difficult to fully embrace AI.The survey also revealed that the current AI deployments in the region are merely scratching the surface of its potential. While companies are using AI predominantly in marketing and sales functions, the utilization of more advanced machine learning analytics and AI models remains limited. This indicates that significant value is being left untapped across various business operations.To accelerate AI adoption and unlock its potential in the GCC region, companies need to focus on building their AI capabilities in four key areas: strategy, organisation and talent, data and technology, and adoption and scaling. The survey respondents identified organisation and talent as the primary challenge in AI adoption, followed by data and technology, adoption and scaling, and strategy.To address these challenges, McKinsey recommends that companies:  1. Link AI strategy to the enterprise strategy by securing senior leadership buy-in, developing a business-led use case roadmap, and effectively communicating the strategy throughout the organisation.  2. Invest in building AI talent by creating an attractive value proposition, considering offshore services, investing in capability building, and collaborating with academia.  3. Establish a high-quality data pipeline and modern technology stack by managing data as a valuable asset and building a flexible technological architecture.  4. Overcome resistance to AI adoption by making analytics user-friendly, fostering collaboration between IT and business teams, and implementing a change management programme.The survey findings highlight the immense potential for AI adoption in the GCC region and the need for organisations to capitalize on this opportunity. By addressing the challenges and leveraging the recommended strategies, companies can accelerate AI implementation and unlock the untapped value that AI offers.Picture Credit:

Falcon 40B: World’s top AI model rewards most creative

Abu Dhabi:  Falcon 40B, the world’s top-ranked open-source AI model on the Hugging Face leaderboard for large language models (LLMs), is registering an overwhelming response to a Call for Proposals from scientists, researchers, and SME entrepreneurs keen to deploy the model for innovative use cases.The response follows back-to-back announcements from the AI model’s creator, Abu Dhabi’s Technology Innovation Institute (TII), offering the most exceptional project ideas access to training compute power as a form of investment.Compute power enables developers to tackle more complex and resource-intensive use cases with increased efficiency, productivity, and performance. By being able to experiment with the capabilities of Falcon 40B, the best open-source LLM globally, developers can venture into uncharted territories, driving innovation and expanding the possibilities of AI solutions - at speed.Submissions are being welcomed from all over the world, and across all industries and sectors to find the very best application concepts. Examples of industries include biotech, engineering, enterprise solutions, customer services, finance, and healthcare. In healthcare, for instance, LLM applications could help doctors by analyzing medical literature, patient records, and research findings to provide evidence-based recommendations. This could enable medical practitioners to make informed decisions and improve patient care based on the latest knowledge and insights. "We strongly encourage scientists, researchers, and aspiring entrepreneurs with bold ideas to submit their proposals for Falcon 40B deployment," said H.E. Faisal Al Bannai Secretary General of TII’s parent entity, the Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC). "We’re excited to invest in the most impactful proposals with compute power through VentureOne, ATRC’s commercialization arm, and to potentially partner with the most promising developers.”  "Every proposal that comes our way is subjected to a thorough and meticulous assessment by TII's dedicated AI Cross-Center Unit (AICCU)," said Dr. Ebtesam Almazrouei, Acting Chief Researcher at AICCU. "Our team of over 40 exceptional AI scientists is poised to examine each proposal, seeking developers with exceptional intellect and ingenuity. Our paramount goal is to propel the frontiers of AI advancements, leveraging its full potential to bring about profound societal improvements."Interested users should submit a proposal outlining their research objectives, methodology, expected outcomes, and the potential impact of their project. The proposal should highlight how Falcon 40B will be utilized and the specific domain it targets. In addition, applicants should include a timeline and a compute budget estimate, as well as any relevant expertise or previous work that supports their proposal.Picture credit:

McDonald’s UAE shares its best food safety practices this World Food Safety Day

DUBAI: As part of its participation in World Food Safety Day and its ongoing commitment to integrate food safety into every aspect of its operations, McDonald’s UAE published today its Food Standards Initiative - an open guidebook, detailing McDonald’s meticulous food safety practices across its food preparation process.Established by the UN in 2018, World Food Safety Day raises attention to the importance of food safety, as well as draws awareness to food standards, inviting organizations, businesses, governments, institutions, and the general public to participate in the annual global event. This year’s theme, “Food standards save lives”, highlights the role of established food safety practices and standards, ensuring food safety and quality, which McDonald’s will be bringing forward through its guidebook in a digestible and implementable format.Guided by the core tenet that food safety runs far beyond basic kitchen practices, the guidebook sheds light on the food preparation process, putting the onus on every individual involved in the food safety process and empowering all stakeholders to take responsibility across food safety, from suppliers and transportation partners to kitchen crew and consumers. The guidebook touches on topics including food handling, temperature control, traceability, monitored safety checks, freshness and more.Commenting on the initiative, Mr. Walid Fakih, CEO at McDonald's UAE said: “Serving safe and delicious food to our customers is our topmost priority and is one of the key factors underpinning our strong relationship with the local community in the UAE. To achieve this, we work with the best partners and suppliers who ensure we deliver on this promise and reward our customers’ trust every step of the way, from farm to fork.”Across food sourcing and handling, to logistics and preparation, McDonald’s UAE has a long-established foundation in ensuring its food safety practices and hygiene protocols meet the highest uncompromising standards of excellence. The McDonald’s guidebook offers industry players insight into preparation, hygiene, and safety tips, techniques, and requirements across four main food categories: beef, chicken, oil, and vegetables.McDonald’s UAE invites businesses and consumers to join this global UN day to continue raising awareness about the importance of food safety for all.

Alteryx Unveils Powerful Generative AI for Enhanced Analytics Democratization

Dubai: Alteryx, Inc. (NYSE: AYX), the Analytics Cloud Platform company, today announced Alteryx AiDIN, the industry’s first engine that combines the power of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and generative AI with the Alteryx Analytics Cloud Platform to accelerate analytics efficiency and productivity. Alteryx now brings the most advanced models and methods to more users across the organization, enabling anyone to capture the competitive advantage of AI and ML.“Alteryx is providing new ways to interact with, improve, and reimagine analytics by integrating generative AI into its Alteryx Analytics Cloud Platform portfolio,” said David Menninger, senior vice president and research director, Ventana Research. “These are exactly the types of integrations that will help enterprises drive high quality insights from large language models.”Alteryx is combining the power of its trusted Alteryx analytics outputs with generative AI and large language models to supercharge the democratization of analytics and dissemination of insights across the organization, while still capturing the governance and observability Alteryx is known for. This announcement includes the first of many new anticipated innovations for Alteryx AiDIN, which powers:Magic Documents, a new Alteryx Auto Insights feature, that uses an enterprise-grade generative AI integration to revolutionize data insights reporting and sharing with stakeholders. This feature delivers smart, in-context data visualization summaries, as well as seamless PowerPoint, email, and message generation capabilities for tailored audiences.Workflow Summary for Alteryx Designer, enabling users to document their processes more effectively by automatically generating workflow summaries and metadata in natural language. This enables easier governance and auditability of all workflow data processes and data pipelines.The OpenAI connector, which is being designed to allow users to roll Generative AI into their own Alteryx Designer workflows. The easy-to-use drag-and-drop tool is expected to generate compelling natural language outputs from users’ data and analytics and give users the power to transform how they present and share data.These new and anticipated features in Alteryx AiDIN will bring the most robust Generative AI and ML capabilities to every user. This initiative builds on current existing innovations from Alteryx like Computer Vision and Natural Language Processing that enable customers to access more data across the enterprise to power their model outputs and reporting.Alongside innovation, trust in data security and governance of analytics processes is key to maximizing the benefits of democratization efforts. With AiDIN, Alteryx continues to deliver a solid framework for maximizing business value through implementation of effective purpose-built AI capabilities within carefully orchestrated, secure applications.“With generative AI, users unlock an entirely new way of using insights to transform their business and solve their biggest challenges,” said Suresh Vittal, chief product officer at Alteryx. “With these game-changing Alteryx AiDIN capabilities, customers can intuitively infuse data-driven insights into every decision across every function, while maintaining governance over their analytics processes.”

Google announces Google for Startups Accelerator for Climate Change

Dubai: Google is announcing today Google for Startups Accelerator: Climate Change, a 10-week, equity-free hybrid program for Seed to Series A startups tackling Climate Change with tech. In partnership with Google Cloud, the Middle East and Africa program helps high-potential startups based in the Middle East and Africa grow with the best of Google through a mix of in-person and virtual activities, 1:1 mentoring, and group learning sessions.In addition to mentorship, the Google for Startups Accelerator: Climate Change program features deep dives and workshops focused on product design, business growth, and leadership development. Selected startups will also benefit from dedicated Google Cloud technical expertise and receive credits via the Google for Startups Cloud Program.Eligibility criteria includes-Startups demonstrating traction, ideally between Seed and Series A stage.Building a scalable product or service with a significant total addressable market and defensible growth model.Focusing on sustainable technology climate solutions, cleantech and green energy.Deeply technical, preferably leveraging technologies like Machine Learning and AI.Commitment from CTO and/or technical roles to participate and engage in required program sessions.Joyce Baz, Head of Communications at Google, said: "As more organizations navigate the necessary, sustainability-driven business transformations on the horizon, they’re looking for new tools and technology to help them. We believe the global startup ecosystem plays a pivotal role in accelerating their progress, which is why we’re excited to kick-off 2023 with Google for Startups Accelerator: Climate Change programs, and encourage startups in the Middle East and Africa to apply. These programs will focus on identifying, supporting and scaling startups that are building technologies to combat climate change. This is the first time we’re running the program in MENA, we’re looking forward to welcoming participants in our region at a critical time when technology can unblock and accelerate decarbonization of the economy."Through a combination of 1-to-1 and 1-to-many learning sessions, startups will receive mentoring from experienced engineers and business experts from Google and the wider ecosystem throughout the program. This support will be specifically tailored to the needs of the startups' businesses. Along with being paired with specialized Startup Success Managers (SSM) from Google, participants will also receive further training on how to use our best practices, tools, and personnel. At the end of the program, the cohort will present their achievements in a Demo Day in front of Google teams, mentors, investors, partners and key stakeholders from the Middle East and Africa startup ecosystems. After the program ends, startups will continue to receive support via the Google for Startups Accelerator Alumni program & network.

Three out of five UAE travellers admit they struggle to switch-off on holiday

DUBAI: New research has revealed that three in five (60%) UAE-based travellers find it difficult to switch off from everyday life whilst holidaying and this is something Hilton want to help change.The feeling of not being able to “switch off” will be a familiar feeling for many people and nearly a third of those polled said they did not feel like they were officially on holiday until they were actually travelling to their holiday destination.And with 31% of UAE travellers saying that the prime reason for feeling like they needed a holiday was to escape feeling overworked and 46% saying that listening to music helped them get into holiday-mode, Hilton, which has over 7,000 hotels worldwide, has teamed up with leading psychologist and ASMR expert, Dr Giulia Poerio, to offer a solution.‘Sounds of the Stay’ is a brand new ASMR track designed to help holidaymakers rest and relax and make the most out of their stay. Hilton researched what sounds transport travellers instantly into ‘stay’ mode, with sounds they cited as relaxing and inducing a holiday feeling as gentle, crashing waves (44%), soothing lobby music (44%), and restaurant piano music (36%).These sounds inspired the unique ASMR track which also includes other aural cues that people say transport them instantly to their favourite holiday place, such as the crunch of sand underfoot (30%), the splash of your first dive into a pool (30%), laughter of children (33%) and the gentle hum of an aeroplane engine (33%).ASMR researcher, Dr Giulia Poerio, who advised on the track, commented, “The impact of everyday sounds on our levels of relaxation and wellbeing is something of increasing research interest, especially over the past few years. It makes sense then that sounds we commonly associate with holidays might help bring people closer to those sought-after feelings of rest and relaxation even before people arrive at their getaway destinations . Working with Hilton on this ASMR-inspired track has highlighted the techniques we might use to help mentally transport us in preparation for that well-deserved holiday respite, allowing us to unplug before fully switching off.”The ‘Sounds of the Stay’ ASMR track has been produced at the optimal length, pitch and frequency scientifically proven to help people relax. The steady three-minute track features a wealth of soft, slow repetitive noises - such as footsteps across crunchy sand and suitcase wheels rolling over marbled hotel floors – which are ideal for helping listeners relax and unwind.Binaural sounds, including the friendly hotel greeting upon arrival or the closeness of ruched hotel sheets when climbing into bed, help listeners to create a sense of direction, and give the impression they can close their eyes and be transported to the location they’re listening to. Patricia Page-Champion, senior vice president and global commercial director, Hilton, commented, “Having spent most of my career in and around hotels, I’ve always loved the look on people’s faces when they walk through the door - the happy feeling of a holiday about to begin. A great stay offers the opportunity to pause, reflect and reconnect, and through this track we wanted to help people get that holiday feeling even before their holiday begins.”Top sounds that help transport UAE travellers to holiday modeA friendly greeting at your hotel (46%)          Waves crashing gently (44%)Soothing hotel lobby/lift music (44%)Piano music in a restaurant (36%)    The sizzle of food being made at the hotel buffet (36%)      The laughter of children playing in a pool (36%)       The hum of an aeroplane engine getting ready for take-off (33%) Suitcase wheels along a floor (33%) Street performers playing music or singing (31%)    The crunch of sand beneath your feet (30%)The splash of someone diving into the pool  (30%)

EaseMyTrip’s Dubai appoints Sameer Bagul as Managing Director

DUBAI: EaseMyTrip’s subsidiary - ( the wholly-owned subsidiary of EaseMyTrip which is India's one of the online travel-tech platforms, announced the appointment of Mr. Sameer Bagul as its Managing Director for the Middle East business. At EaseMyTrip Dubai, Sameer Bagul will be responsible for building the team and growing its Middle East business. Bringing more than 15 years of expertise in the online travel and e-commerce sectors across India and the Middle East, he has primarily been associated with Cleartrip and Holidayme. During his tenure there, he focused on expanding the business in the Middle East, building strong local brand, establishing strategic partnerships to enhance customer acquisition across all GCC countries to drive sales growth, and made significant contributions to overall business expansion. For the last three years, he has been an integral part of Traveazy, an online global distribution B2B platform, where he played a key role in their global expansion efforts.Demonstrating strong skills across business analytics, business strategy, corporate finance, fundraising, digital marketing, and brand development, he has a passion for travel and enjoys engaging with startups, particularly in the areas of fundraising, strategic planning, and growth marketing.Sameer Bagul, Managing Director, Middle East - EaseMyTrip, said, “Drawing on my prior expertise, I am excited to bring my strategic management and business development skills to the table at EaseMyTrip. Witnessing the remarkable growth of the brand over the years, I am thrilled to join this rapidly expanding company and contribute to its continued success. With a deep understanding of the industry and a passion for driving growth, I am eager to collaborate with the talented team at EaseMyTrip and propel the company to new heights.”Rikant Pittie, Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip, says, “We are thrilled to welcome Mr. Sameer to our team with open arms. His proven track record of effective leadership and business acumen is truly commendable. We have great confidence in his abilities to drive our organization towards new heights of success. With his expertise and innovative mindset, we are eager to collaborate with him on various strategic initiatives and witness his valuable contributions first hand. Together, we aim to achieve remarkable milestones and create a prosperous future for our company.”

Havas ME promotes Fabio Silveira and Dana Tahir as Managing Directors

Dubai: Havas Middle East announced the promotion of senior leadership within its Creative and PR divisions, Havas Creative and Red Havas. Fabio Silveira, the head of Havas Creative, and Dana Tahir, the head of Red Havas, have both been promoted to Managing Directors. They shared their promotions on LinkedIn, expressing their pride and gratitude for their respective roles and the support they received from their colleagues. Silveira acknowledged his 14-year journey with the Havas Creative Network, while Tahir highlighted her 15 years with the Havas Middle East network and the integration of Red Havas. “15 years with the Havas Middle East network, and I am humbled to have been part of the journey and transformation of the agency through the years, particularly with our integration into the global Red HAVAS network,” Tahir posted. Both credited CEO Dany Naaman for his leadership and thanked the network for empowering them. Havas Middle East consists of three divisions: Havas Creative, Havas Media, and Red Havas, led by Silveira, Houda Tohme (CEO of Havas Media), and Dany Naaman respectively.

UAE's tourism expenditure soars to AED 108 billion in 2022

Dubai: The UAE continues to establish itself as a global tourism powerhouse, as it witnessed a remarkable tourism expenditure of AED 108 billion ($29.42 billion) in 2022, according to Fever, the leading global live-entertainment discovery platform. This achievement solidifies the UAE's position as the world's top destination for international traveler expenditure, surpassing Doha's AED 62 billion ($16.79 billion) by a significant margin.With a steadfast commitment to attracting 40 million tourist visits by 2030, the UAE's tourism sector has emerged as a vital contributor to the nation's economy. The projected economic contribution of AED 450 billion ($123 billion) to the country's national GDP highlights the profound impact of tourism on the UAE's growth and development[1]. Moreover, the leisure and entertainment (L&E) sectors in the UAE and the broader Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are reaping the benefits.The L&E sector in MENA currently generates approximately AED 30 billion ($8.2 billion) in revenue[2]. Through substantial investments in tourism infrastructure and compelling marketing campaigns, countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia have successfully elevated the region's status as a globally renowned tourist destination.The UAE's consistent momentum is evident from the remarkable figures for the first quarter of 2023, with the country already welcoming 4.7 million tourists[3]. Furthermore, KSA has positioned itself as the world's fastest-growing tourism destination, surpassing its 2019 visitor count of 17.5 million people with 7.8 million tourists in the first three months of this year alone[4].The influx of tourists in the region has resulted in an increased demand for leisure and entertainment offerings. Rachid Laurent Elameri (pictured above), General Manager of Fever Middle East, commented: "Tourism brings significant revenue and contributes to a country's overall economic growth, as seen firsthand in countries like the UAE, where tourist spending increased by 70% last year." Elameri emphasized the importance of the financial infusion from tourists, stimulating the local economy and creating opportunities for businesses to invest in the development and expansion of leisure and entertainment offerings.Fever recognizes the potential for further growth in the MENA region. Since its inception in 2014, Fever has been dedicated to democratizing access to culture and entertainment. With over 125 million users worldwide and $200 million in funding from Goldman Sachs in 2022, Fever expanded to the GCC region and is committed to showcasing experiences and artists in the UAE and beyond.As the UAE continues to set new benchmarks in tourism and entertainment, companies in Dubai and the wider region have a unique opportunity to contribute to the growth and success of the leisure and entertainment industry. By investing in the development and expansion of offerings, they can support the UAE in maintaining its leading position across all industries, particularly in the thriving space of leisure and entertainment.

Like Digital & Partners appoints David O'Sullivan as VP of Commercial, MENA

DUBAI: As Like Digital & Partners continues its rapid expansion into the GCC market and beyond, the award-winning digital transformation agency has announced the appointment of David O'Sullivan as VP of Commercial for the MENA region.With more than 19 years of experience in the digital sector, cultivated in the UK and the Middle East, David has a proven track-record of winning and delivering outstanding digital transformation projects for a variety of global brands, while leading high-performing teams to deliver profitable results for clients.Having worked in the MENA region for the past six years, David has refined his knowledge of what it takes to grow and nurture a well-rounded digital portfolio for a global agency in this highly competitive marketplace.His client experience includes award-winning work for global brands such as The Kraft Heinz Company, Mercedes-Benz, Emirates Dnata Group, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, JLL, NBC Universal, Collinson Group (LoungeKey/Priority Pass), The AA, LG Electronics, World Duty Free Group, Wagamama, Marks & Spencer, PizzaExpress, Take-Two Interactive (Rockstar Games), and Warner Bros.Commenting on the appointment, Alex Tovey, Chief Commercial Officer of Like Digital & Partners said, “We are delighted to welcome David to the Like Digital & Partners team as VP of Commercial for MENA. David has every attribute we seek in a Like Digital & Partners team member. He is deeply knowledgeable as to the digital landscape, considerate of client needs, and strategically minded when problem solving. We couldn't be happier to welcome him into the business.” In accepting the position, David said, “Like Digital & Partners’ dedication to the region and its sustained expansion across MENA is something that immediately resonated with me. I’m looking forward to working with an established team in the Middle East that is agile and responsive to client needs in the ever-changing digital landscape.” “As well as securing new client opportunities and establishing and strengthening partnerships in the MENA region, I’m also looking forward to analysing the current needs of the brands already in the agency’s enviable portfolio.”With offices in Dubai, London and Paris, and a new office opening in Riyadh in Q2, Like Digital & Partners comprises an award-winning team of expert designers, e-commerce strategists, growth planners, developers and content marketers. As experts in the luxury, fashion and hospitality industries, the agency services some of the world’s leading luxury brands including Mulberry, One&Only Resorts, Chalhoub Group, Majid Al Futtaim Group, Atlantis Royal, Atlantis The Palm, La Perla, and De Beers, among others. The agency’s core competencies lie in Digital Transformation Strategy, Brand and Content Marketing, Growth Strategy, UX & UI Design, and Technology & Development.

Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy attracts 30 tech startups to Dubai during Q1 20

Dubai: Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, one of the three chambers operating under Dubai Chambers, has unveiled details of its key achievements during the first quarter of 2023. The announcement underlines the chamber's commitment to boosting the digital economy in the emirate and supporting the ambitious Dubai Economic Agenda D33.During the first three months of this year, Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy successfully cooperated with relevant government entities to attract 30 startups with strong potential in the technology sector as part of its efforts to develop the digital economy and enhance Dubai’s appeal to tech investors.The chamber has also launched a new initiative to enhance communication with key stakeholders in digital business community, and organised a series of 10 interactive workshops for the private sector focusing on specific areas of the digital economy. The workshops explored the challenges facing the targeted sectors and helped develop appropriate solutions to support companies in improving their performance and competitiveness.H.E. Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications and Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, confirmed that realising the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for the emirate to be a global capital of the digital economy remains a top priority for the chamber both now and in the future, and that the private sector is a key player in achieving this objective.“A main focus for the UAE is strengthening constructive dialogue with key segments of Dubai’s digital business community to determine opportunities, challenges, and recommendations,” H.E. Al Olama stated. “We aim to chart a roadmap for strengthening the emirate’s digital infrastructure, develop legislation that supports the growth of tech companies, and enhance the digital economy’s competitiveness and contribution to Dubai’s overall economic growth.”The series of interactive workshops covered a wide range of digital economy sectors including 3D printing, social media, venture capital and business incubators, ecommerce, video games, the gig economy, financial technology (FinTech), the metaverse, cryptocurrencies, healthtech, artificial intelligence, and software development.Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy is committed to supporting Dubai’s digital transformation and elevating the emirate’s position as a global capital of the digital economy. The chamber’s ambitious strategy aims to attract 300 new digital startups in the coming years. As part of these efforts, Dubai Chamber of Digital economy will host the Expand North Star Summit in October. The event, which is the region’s largest gathering of startups, will showcase growth opportunities emerging in Dubai’s digital economy and serve as a strategic catalyst to expand the future of digital economy.

The Elite Cars launches limited edition AED 8mln Zenvo hypercar

Dubai: The Elite Cars Group, one of the leading multi-brand luxury car dealerships in the UAE becomes the authorized distributor of the Danish carmaker Zenvo Automotive - manufacturing next-generation hypercars - for the first time in the Middle East. The announcement of this partnership was held at Caesars Palace Hotel, Bluewaters, along with a debut showcase of its bespoke TSR-S model in Dubai.Zenvo Automotive plans to firmly establish a presence in the region ahead of the reveal of an all-new car, Aurora, this August through The Elite Cars. A reveal event featuring the hand-built TSR-S highlights the brand’s renowned attention to detail and quality for an engaging and intimate driving experience.With over 25 years of experience having exclusive partnerships with global automotive brands, The Elite Cars offerings comprise a wide range of top-quality new and pre-owned high-end ultra-luxury vehicles from some of the world's most prestigious brands. The Elite Cars group offers customers an exceptional buying experience. Their team of knowledgeable and professional sales consultants are dedicated to helping customers find the perfect car to meet their needs and exceed their expectations.Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Tamer Abu Khalaf, Partner at The Elite Cars said, "With a commitment to quality, service, and customer satisfaction, The Elite Cars Group has been the undisputed leader in the luxury automotive industry for over 25 years. We are confident that this will bring success to both our organizations and we will redefine the boundaries of automotive innovation and set a new standard for performance cars.”Commenting on this latest partnership with The Elite Cars Group, Zenvo’s chief commercial officer and chairman of the board, Mr. Jens Sverdrup said: “After a successful 12 months developing the brand in North America and Canada, we are keen to continue with our strategic plan to grow the Zenvo brand globally. At Zenvo, we are thrilled to be working with The Elite Cars Group as our authorized distributor to firmly establish the brand in the Middle East. The Elite Cars echoes our commitment to providing customers with the best possible end-to-end experience. “With all the recent TSR-GT models sold out, Zenvo UAE will register interest in the all-new V12 powered hypercar, Aurora, featuring a modular design chassis with carbon monocoque and carbon subframes, plus Zenvo’s own gearbox with integrated hybrid drive. Hand-built in Præstø, Denmark, Aurora will be an all-new 6-litre, twin turbo, V12 engine. Aurora Tur will deliver a road focused, GT driving experience with a limited top speed of over 400kmh, while Aurora Agil will feature more aggressive aero designed for maximum capability on the racetrack. Danish-developed Zenvo Automotive focuses on limited-edition artisan-made hypercars, available to those interested in completely bespoke manufacturing experiences and unique driving abilities.With the announcement of this partnership, The Elite Cars group is looking forward to a successful future for Zenvo Automotive in the UAE, and to provide its loyal clientele with the greatest in luxury and performance.

The rise of gamification marketing in India

Authored by Bhavesh Talreja, Founder & CEO, Globale MediaWith the widespread adoption of digital technologies, people spend more time online and engage with various digital platforms. This has led to markets figuring out new interactive and entertaining ways to capture the attention of users. One such way is Gamification.Gamification marketing is a strategy that involves integrating game-like elements, mechanics, and dynamics into marketing campaigns and experiences. In simple words, it is the use of game elements in non-game activities or making boring things more fun. It utilizes elements of gameplay to engage and motivate consumers, encouraging them to participate, interact with a brand, and take desired actions.The term “gamification” was coined by British computer programmer Nick Pelling, but it first gained widespread usage in 2010. Although the trend may have become commonplace in marketing circles in recent times, the concept of gamification and its influence on human behavior has always been there. We all remember how legos and puzzles played an instrumental role in fuelling curiosity and developing cognitive skills. Or how Monopoly gave a simplistic understanding of capitalism. So, the original concept of using games for encouraging participation and learning is not unusual.Gamification taps into the fundamental principles of human psychology and motivation. It leverages elements such as rewards, challenges, achievements, and competition, which are known to drive engagement and encourage desired behaviors.Gamification marketing aims to enhance user engagement, create memorable experiences, and drive specific behaviors or outcomes. By tapping into people's natural inclination for competition, achievement, and rewards, gamification marketing can capture attention, increase participation, and foster a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction.According to shopping preference surveys, 70% of shoppers want gaming elements in online shopping, and 36% would like gaming elements while shopping in-store.The global gamification market size was estimated at USD 10.5 billion in 2021 and it is expected to reach around USD 96.8 billion by 2030.Some common elements and techniques used in gamification marketing are:? Points, Badges, and Leaderboards: Users earn points or badges for completing certain tasks, reaching milestones, or demonstrating desired behaviors. Leaderboards display rankings based on user performance, creating a sense of competition and motivation. This is a great way to encourage users to actively participate and spend more time with the brand.? Challenges, Quests, Rewards: Users are presented with specific challenges or quests that require them to complete certain actions or achieve specific goals. This element adds a sense of excitement, progression, and accomplishment. Users receive rewards, incentives, or prizes for their participation or successful completion of tasks. These can include discounts, exclusive content, virtual goods, or tangible rewards.A great example is the Starbucks Rewards app, which gives customers the ability to earn “stars” for every purchase which can be redeemed for drinks or food. In the star-based Rewards app, customers are encouraged to follow through the entire process, right from scanning their member barcode to adding funds and paying with their digital Starbucks Card. According to QSR Magazine, this membership program accounted for 52% of all US store sales in 2021.? Progression and Unlockable Content: Users progress through levels or stages, unlocking new content, features, or experiences as they advance. This creates a sense of achievement, curiosity, and motivation to continue engaging with the brand.Gamification marketing often incorporates social elements, such as allowing users to share their progress and achievements, or invite friends to participate. This not only fosters social interaction and competition but also exponentially increases brand visibility through word-of-mouth publicity. Real-time feedback and progress indicators provide users with immediate feedback on their actions, motivating them to continue or improve their performance. Gamification marketing can be implemented across various channels and platforms, including websites, mobile apps, social media campaigns, events, and loyalty programs. It is used by businesses to enhance customer engagement, drive brand loyalty, increase sales, promote product adoption, and gather valuable data insights.In India, an essential avenue for gamification is fantasy sports. With an 18-crore user base, almost thrice the size of North America, India is already the world's largest and fastest-growing fantasy sports market and gamification will be the icing on the cake.With gamification, even traditional card games like online rummy which seem mundane, can become viral sensations. But unlike the rewards system, players can compete for real money or prizes, thereby making it a profession. Online rummy is the hottest pick in the ecosystem, with just the top four companies making a combined revenue of ?4000 crores. In 2019, Online rummy accounted for 335 million USD in India's online gaming market and is estimated to reach 1.4 billion USD by 2024.Many international brands have already tried out different types of gamification marketing. 1. Elon Musk’s Tesla partnered with Tencent during the launch of Model 3 and Model X in China. The two companies entered into a partnership for Tesla cars to be included in PUBG, which is rebranded as ‘Game of Peace’ in China. This marketing campaign allowed players of the game to actually drive the new special edition Tesla electric vehicles within matches. This type of gamification marketing is also known as Brandification, which is as simple as advertising real-world products within video game spaces.2. In 2010, when M&M’s launched the pretzel-flavored version of the candy, they incorporated an eye spy game into their marketing campaign, where users had to find? a single pretzel hidden in the sea of M&M's. This simple gamification strategy garnered 25,000 new likes on the brand’s Facebook page, in addition to 6,000 shares and 10,000 comments.Thus, by leveraging the principles of gamification, brands can create immersive and enjoyable experiences that resonate with their target audience, resulting in increased brand awareness, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, business growth.India is a land of games. Many games, including Chess, Polo, Snakes and ladders, have been born in India and are recognized globally. So, it should come as no surprise that India is one of the leading countries when it comes to gamification. Plus, with the Indian gaming industry valued at $2.6 billion in 2022 and expected to grow four-fold by 2027, the rise of gamification marketing will also be unstoppable. In India, there are avenues awaiting implementation of gamification such as the edtech market. Levels, points, badges, awards, quick feedback, time limitations, challenges, contests, avatars, leaderboards, and rankings can completely change the way people learn.After all, it's not always about competing to win, but sharing how you won.

Al-Futtaim Automotive appoints Antoine Barthes as Vice-President

Dubai: In a move to reinforce and consolidate its strong leadership position, Al-Futtaim Automotive has announced the appointment of Antoine Barthes as the automotive conglomerate’s Vice-President.Antoine takes the reins of the business with full responsibility for the leadership and development of the business operations across all regions and segments such as passenger and electric vehicles, motorcycles, commercial vehicles, industrial equipment and agricultural products.The appointment signifies the automotive giant’s clear intent on continuing growing and diversifying the portfolio, underpinned by its core customer-centric approach.Bringing with him 25 years of diverse experiences, Antoine will play an integral role in devising  strategies to maintain the company’s leadership across the 10 countries they operate in.Antoine will also steer the company on the sustainability and digitalization path to ensure Al-Futtaim Automotive achieves its mission to become the new category leader in green mobility and Mobility-as-a-Service.Antoine has previously helmed some of the biggest global automotive operations, overseeing the growth of major manufacturers such as Ford Motor Company and Nissan across Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. He spent two decades managing the full portfolio of brands for Nissan Motor Corporation. He was also in charge of Nissan’s biggest operations based in China, with more than 1 million cars sold annually.He arrives with an extensive mix of expertise covering the entire automotive value-chain, including sales and marketing, product development, operations, logistics, network and distribution, and corporate management.Prior to joining Al-Futtaim Automotive, he was Nissan’s Corporate Vice-President and Head of Global Sales, Dealer Network Development, and Customer Quality, based at the manufacturer's Global headquarters in Japan.Al-Futtaim Automotive is a distinct player in the UAE auto industry, with exclusive distribution rights to brands such as Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Volvo, Jeep, RAM, and Dodge. The company is also the sole distributor for BYD, the world’s leading new energy manufacturer, and the Swedish performance all-electric - Polestar, with the recently launched Al-Futtaim Electric Mobility Company.Al-Futtaim Automotive is one of five divisions within the Al-Futtaim Group which provides quality products and services that enrich people’s lives and aspirations each and every day.

Bridgestone MEA appoints Gurhan Cevikel as new Head of Marketing

DUBAI: Bridgestone Middle East and Africa (MEA), one of the global leaders in tyres and sustainable mobility solutions, has appointed Gurhan Cevikel as its new Head of Marketing to spearhead the organisation’s marketing strategies in the region.Gurhan assumed his new role as the Head of Marketing for the Middle East and Africa region on May 1, 2023. In his new role, he reports directly to Jacques Fourie, Vice President and Managing Director of the MEA region, and has a dotted line reporting to Thierry Jupsin, Vice President of Brands Marketing for the Europe, Middle East, India, and Africa (EMIA) region.As the Head of Marketing - MEA, Gurhan is in charge of defining, coordinating, and executing the marketing strategy for the MEA region in line with the BSEMIA Marketing Guidelines and MEA strategic priorities. He oversees all marketing activities - including Brand Platforms Activation, Trade Marketing, Communication, Digital Marketing, Pricing, and Strategic Planning.Gurhan said, “I am honoured to join Bridgestone MEA as the Head of Marketing, embarking on a thrilling journey of innovation and growth. I look forward to contributing to the efforts of Bridgestone MEA to position itself a leading global mobility solutions provider and will dedicate my expertise to further develop the company by delivering high-quality solutions to customers. Together, we will redefine the boundaries of marketing, steering our brand towards unrivalled success.”Gurhan brings with him over 18 years of extensive experience in sales, marketing, business development, consulting, deal making, channel management, B2B/B2C, strategic planning, digital transformation, and team management. He has worked in various markets across the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Asia, contributing to his deep understanding of the region's diverse business landscape. Gurhan's previous roles include serving as the Global Marketing Director - Retail Lubricants at Shell, where he led go-to-market strategies, pricing and portfolio choices across multiple markets, and communication plans. He later moved on to become the Head of Market Intelligence & Consulting at GfK Middle East & Africa LLC being based in Dubai UAE.Commenting on Gurhan's appointment, Jacques Fourie stated, “We are delighted to welcome Gurhan to Bridgestone MEA as the new Head of Marketing. His diverse background and proven track record in sales and marketing make him a valuable addition to our team. We are confident that Gurhan's leadership and strategic vision will drive our marketing efforts and contribute to the continued growth and success of Bridgestone in the MEA region.”

Get to know us,’ 92% of UAE consumers tell brands: ServiceNow survey

Dubai: Almost all UAE consumers expect commercial brands to understand and cater to their individual needs, according to a report released today by ServiceNow (NYSE: NOW), the leading digital workflow company making the world work better for everyone.The study — in which researchers interviewed 13,000 adults across EMEA, including 1,000 in the UAE — revealed the critical success factors for the nation’s brands as they compete to deliver the best customer experiences. Some 92% of respondents said it is important that brands understand them.The findings come at a time when brand loyalty is at an all-time low — 91% of consumers surveyed in the UAE (15 percentage points higher than the EMEA average) said they are less loyal to brands now than they were two years ago. Almost one in four (23%) attribute this to disappointing experiences.“Some of the findings are not surprising,” said Ali Kaddoura, Country Manager, GCC, at ServiceNow, of the report, which revealed that 93% of UAE consumers expect seamless service and 94% expect customer service reps to resolve problems easily. “But what really stands out is that more consumers than ever expect their brands to really know them and cater to their personal preferences.”When asking about specific expectations, researchers found 79% of the UAE sample population saying it was important that brands were consistently aware of shoppers’ purchasing habits. And 86% said companies should remember their preferred communication channel. Almost everyone (91%) called for the offering of personalized discounts and 86% urged brands to display tailored recommendations during an engagement session.“Given the tech-savvy propensity of the UAE consumer base, we found it interesting that consumers here had a technology-based incentive to be loyal to a brand,” Kaddoura said, citing a finding that 86%, or 15 percentage points higher than the EMEA average, considered it important that brands provide a customer experience underpinned by the latest technology. An almost equal number — 85%, or 21 percentage points higher than the EMEA average — said they would likely be more loyal to a brand that invested in tech to provide a better customer experience.“Whether we zero in on consumers’ direct calls for better tech, or their implied calls for it through their urgings for more personalized experiences, it is clear that UAE organizations need better tech,” said Kaddoura. “Brands must invest in a unified foundational technology platform for all enterprise digital workflows, allowing them to maximize the value of their existing technology investments and connect siloed systems, departments, and processes.”He advised brands in the UAE to look to the two top-ranked sectors for customer experience — healthcare and government.“Consider the UAE government’s implementation of the trusted identity system, UAE Pass,” he added, “or its response to the COVID crisis, starting with the management of lockdowns and culminating in the app-driven rollout of vaccines — all driven by technology. And let’s not forget the country’s healthcare system and how it used tech to rally under COVID-related pressures, the advent of telemedicine being just one example. Other industries can look to these shining examples of how to leverage tech to deliver exceptional customer experiences.”ServiceNow’s customer experience report did not just reveal sentiment regarding consumers’ own experiences. In the age of ESG, consumers also spared some thoughts for how brands treat their employees. Most (91%) of those surveyed in the UAE said this was important to them, and three quarters said they would be less likely to engage with a company if they knew its employees were unhappy.“We often talk about the link between employee and customer experience, but this latest study really drives the point home,” said Mark Ackerman, Area VP for the Middle East and Africa at ServiceNow. “It is really heartening to see that we humans, in some way, are coming to realize that we are all consumers, but we are also all employees. We cannot just provide exceptional experiences to consumers; we must also make sure our internal ‘consumers’ are happy — whether that is through better salary and benefits, or through better technology and resources, or through better development opportunities. Nowadays, if you ignore any of this, your brand loyalty will suffer. The data tells us so.

Madinah Modest Wear launches niche e-commerce portal

DUBAI: Madinah Modest Wear, a pioneering e-commerce fashion project ‘By Women, For Women’, proudly announces the launch of its new online portal offering a wide range of scarves, hijabs, and accessories. With a mission to empower women and preserve cultural heritage, Madinah Modest Wear has been developed by entrepreneurs Hina Bakht, Founder and Managing Director of Madinah Modest Wear based in Dubai, and Nodira Tursunova, Partner and Executive Director based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. This exciting venture signifies the ongoing business collaboration between the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan, both driven by a vision to power the digital economy through innovation and collaboration.According to Hina, Madinah Modest Wear's primary objective is to provide meaningful business opportunities to tribal and rural women through its e-commerce platform tapping into the potential of cross-border cooperation. “By showcasing their talent, skills, and craftsmanship, the portal aims to uplift rural communities while preserving their rich cultural heritage through digital transformation.”The company is committed to fair trade practices, offering training and support to foster economic independence, enhance self-esteem, and contribute to the sustainable development of marginalized communities, particularly in Uzbekistan and other parts of Central Asia.From a consumer perspective, Madinah Modest Wear aims to provide the freedom and choice to women to embrace their unique style while adhering to their cultural and regional values. Recognizing the growing demand for modest fashion worldwide, the company aspires to become a prominent global player in the industry.Hina, who is a highly accomplished business and revenue management professional, brings over 20 years of expertise in digital marketing and e-commerce to her role as Founder and Managing Director of Madinah Modest Wear. Holding a Master’s Degree from Delhi School of Economics, Hina has further augmented her knowledge and skills through specialized certifications from renowned institutes. These certifications include Blockchain for Financial Services from INSEAD, Leadership: Creating Public Value from Harvard University, Online Distribution, Revenue, and Demand Management Specialization from ESSEC Business School, and AI Applications in Marketing and Finance from the University of Pennsylvania.Hina stressed, “The positive social impact of our project is substantial, starting with the local rural community. By supporting local businesses, Madinah Modest Wear aims to foster economic growth, encourage entrepreneurship, and strengthen the regional economy. The growth of Madinah Modest Wear's portal will create numerous employment opportunities for residents, benefiting individuals and families across various regions across Central Asia. This, in turn, will enhance their livelihoods, contribute to poverty reduction, and promote economic stability. With improved living standards, individuals and families will be able to invest in education, healthcare, housing, and actively participate in the local economy.”Environmental sustainability too is a core value for Madinah Modest Wear. Minimizing its ecological footprint, the company is dedicated to implementing sustainable practices throughout its operations, utilizing energy-efficient technologies, renewable energy sources, and responsible waste management strategies. Madinah Modest Wear aims to preserve the natural beauty of the environment and protect local ecosystems. Showcases its commitment to promoting a greener and more sustainable fashion industry, Madinah Modest Wear proudly features garments made from organically grown cotton and silk, which are cultivated without the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals.The global modest wear market is experiencing rapid growth, driven by increasing cultural diversity, evolving fashion trends, and rising awareness of modest fashion. According to industry reports, it is projected to reach $484 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.6%. With a focus on quality, diversity, and affordability, Madinah Modest Wear is poised to capture a notable market share in this expanding industry.

New generative AI-powered Zoom IQ features are now available to users

Dubai: Today Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZM) launched key features of Zoom IQ, a smart companion that empowers collaboration and unlocks people’s potential through generative AI. Now available through free trials for customers in select plans,[1] the Zoom Meeting summary and Zoom Team Chat compose features will help teams improve productivity, balance workday priorities, and collaborate more effectively.“With the introduction of these new capabilities in Zoom IQ, an incredible generative AI assistant, teams can further enhance their productivity for everyday tasks, freeing up more time for creative work and expanding collaboration,” said Smita Hashim, chief product officer at Zoom. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to large language models, and with Zoom’s federated approach to AI, we are able to bring powerful capabilities to our customers and users through Zoom’s own models as well as our partners’ models.”Zoom’s federated approach to AI leverages its own proprietary large language AI models, those from leading AI companies — such as OpenAI and Anthropic — and select customers’ own models. With this flexibility to incorporate multiple types of models, Zoom’s goal is to provide the most value for its customers’ diverse needs.The first set of Zoom IQ capabilities is now generally available to Zoom customers in select plans as free trials:Meeting summary: Zoom Meeting hosts can now create a summary powered by Zoom’s own large language models and share it via Zoom Team Chat and email without recording the conversation. Hosts receive automated summaries and can share them with attendees and those who didn’t attend to improve team collaboration and speed up productivity.Chat compose: Zoom Team Chat users can now use the generative AI-powered compose feature, which leverages OpenAI’s technology, to draft messages based on the context of a Team Chat thread in addition to changing message tone and length as well as rephrasing responses to customize text recommendations.Zoom is committed to empowering customers with the tools they need to control their data. In order to use these features, customers will need to go to the Zoom admin console and opt into the free trials for each feature. As part of the opt-in, customers will also select data-sharing options with Zoom. Account admins may change this data-sharing selection at any time. Customer data will not be used to train third-party models. More information can be found here.To further help our customers and users, Zoom will continue to enhance its products with Zoom IQ capabilities. The next set of generative AI-powered features, scheduled to be released soon, will allow users to draft email content, summarize Team Chat threads, organize ideas, and draft whiteboard content:Email compose: Harnessing the power of generative AI, users will get email draft suggestions in response to the conversational context from prior Zoom Meetings, Zoom Phone calls, and email threads. Initially available in Zoom IQ for Sales, sales professionals can now quickly follow up with customers based on the context of their last conversation. Email compose will be generally available in the coming weeks.Zoom Team Chat thread summaries: Ever step away from the computer only to come back to a flurry of Team Chat messages? Available in the coming months, Team Chat thread summaries will allow users to catch up with the click of a button.Meeting queries: Joining a Zoom Meeting late can be both disruptive and confusing for the latecomer, but not anymore. Meeting queries will allow users to catch up quickly without disrupting the meeting flow by discreetly submitting a query via the in-meeting chat and receiving a generative AI-created summary of what they missed. The meeting queries feature is expected to be generally available in the coming months.Whiteboard draft: Who hasn’t experienced the “cold start” problem? A slow start to a brainstorming session can put a damper on idea generation, but with whiteboard draft, teams will be able to get a set of initial ideas, simply using text prompts. The whiteboard draft feature is expected to be generally available in the coming months.Whiteboard synthesize: Brainstorming sessions typically end with a lot of ideas that need to be organized in order to execute. The whiteboard synthesize feature automatically organizes ideas into categories, so teams can get to work faster. This feature is expected to be generally available in the coming months.

New blockchain technology research reveals value potential for emerging markets

Dubai: Agile Dynamics, a research-based consultancy service that helps businesses to better understand and harness the potential of new technologies to achieve digital transformation, has announced the launch of its latest research paper. Entitled 'Disrupt and Innovate: Harness the Power of Blockchain', the paper examines how to unlock growth via layer 1 blockchain protocols, focusing in particular on the advantages for emerging markets.Amongst other insights, the research reveals that customised layer 1 blockchain protocol offers potential benefits such as increased financial inclusion, reduced transaction costs, and improved transparency - all of which align with the concept of technology sovereignty. It empowers entities to have ownership and control of their data, while safeguarding their sovereignty, reducing dependence on external entities, being more competitive on the global stage, and both encouraging and supporting domestic technology companies.With multiple applications across all sectors, and as a driving component of Web 3.0 technologies, blockchain has proven to be massively valuable to the global economy. It is estimated that blockchain technology will boost global gross domestic product (GDP) by US$2.1 trillion of the projected global GDP in 2030. Approximately half (49%) of the US$2.1 trillion will come from growth markets.As of 2023, estimated global ownership rates of cryptocurrency - which is enabled by blockchain technology - is at an average of 4.2%, with over 420 million crypto users worldwide. Around 7.5% of these are in growth markets, including the UAE, India, China, and Egypt.The Agile Dynamics report finds that 73% of study respondents consider that a reduction in operational costs will be one of the main advantages of blockchain technology. This is followed closely by 67% of respondents believing that a key advantage of blockchain will be improving speed and efficiency. Other advantages noted include improving security and privacy (55%), bringing innovation (50%), and financial processes (44%).Blockchain technology's ability to drive value by reducing cost across a wide array of functions is another key aspect explored in the report. The strongest applicability is in Operations and IT - which typically comprise 30-50% of most organisations' cost structure, though departments including Finance, Sales and Marketing, and Risk Management will also benefit. Advantages in this respect include more efficient data management; elimination of redundant infrastructure, systems and processes; a shift to self-service solutions, and a reduced cost of data handling, amongst other benefits.Cost reduction is a main strategy value of blockchain technology, particularly in the short term. This is followed by revenue generation and capital relief. These advantages have led more than 90% of major banks based in Europe, North America and Australia to test and invest in blockchain solutions. Achieving long term value, however, will only be realised if commercially viable solutions can be deployed at scale. According to Agile Dynamics' report, this is likely 3-5 years away.One obstacle that blockchain technology must overcome in order for full value to be unlocked is a challenge referred to as the 'Blockchain Trilemma'. This refers to a situation in which there are three options available - in this case, security, scalability, and decentralisation - but only two of them can be achieved simultaneously. As stated by the report, if the architecture does not overcome this challenge, then the blockchain application is set to fail at some point. To achieve all three options, a fullycccnetwork that is both secure and scalable is necessary.Within the report, Agile Dynamics examines the growing world of blockchain, including an analysis of different blockchain platforms. The report focuses on 10, selected based on criteria such as Total Value Locked (TVL), Total Active Users, Technical Metrics, Technical Properties, and more. Aspects such as technical designs, blockchain and ecosystem data, and the individuals and organisations behind each platform are taken into consideration to draw insights into what the future of the broader smart contracting platform landscape could look like.While there are definite merits to each of the platforms analysed and some of them can meet the demands and requirements of developing world markets, the report finds that, ultimately, they don't necessarily meet the full needs of growth markets. This leaves considerable space for further development of the sector, which will lead to greater outcomes for platform owners and users alike.Agile Dynamics explores what the future of blockchain technology could look like, including next generation technology characteristics. The report maps out three stages of the blockchain technology maturity journey, which it names as Emerging Blockchain Technology, Next-Gen Blockchain, and Fourth Generation Chain. In the latter, a permissionless, decentralised, scalable blockchain protocol will be achieved. It will be focused on interoperability challenges, designed to provide the fastest and most efficient cross-chain interoperability, speed, scalability, and security. It will also integrate micro-validation and tokenisation, amongst numerous other benefits.Speaking on the report and its contents, Paul Lalovich, Managing Partner at Agile Dynamics, said: "The world of blockchain is evolving rapidly, and is becoming an increasingly vital component of our ultra-connected world. Our report demonstrates how blockchain could be the most effective solution to begin a technology sovereignty journey, thanks to its ability to support the concept through providing decentralisation, data ownership and privacy, open source principles, trust and security, interoperability and more. By leveraging blockchain, you have the ability for more control and autonomy over your technology infrastructure and systems. This reduces dependence on external entities, and helps to safeguard your sovereignty. Blockchain is also a distinct and cost-effect means to stimulate innovation and foster growth, particularly in an economic context, and it has been demonstrated to be more cost-effective than any other technology for building out a project with the highest forecasted compound annual growth rate through to 2030."Lalovich continued: "Agile Dynamics is committed to helping organisations to harness the power of technology, to achieve digital transformation and to create differentiation by applying technology in a practical business context. We use deep insights derived from data, as demonstrated in 'Disrupt and Innovate: Harness the Power of Blockchain', in combination with extensive experience across industries and applications to help our clients realise business opportunities for growth."

Manchester City named world’s most valuable football club brand

Abu Dhabi:  Manchester City has been named the most valuable football club brand in the world. The Club has topped the Brand Finance Football 50 2023 Report for the first time.The report details a 34% positive growth in City’s brand value since the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Premier League champions overtaking Real Madrid for the top position. This is the first time an English club has held the number one spot in six years.A decade of dominance on the pitch and the highest revenue of any of club in the report were outlined as key drivers for City’s rise in the rankings.This comes at the climax of a remarkable season for Manchester City both on and off the pitch. On Saturday, City lifted the FA Cup to complete a domestic double after winning a third successive Premier League last month. The Club will be looking to add more silverware to this historic season as it competes in the UEFA Champions League Final this weekend.This season the Club has also topped the Deloitte Money League for the second successive year after announcing a record revenue of £613 million and profits of £41.7 million, the latter being more than double the previous Club record. It has also been a strong year for City’s commercial portfolio with a number of new partners and long-term renewals announced across the season. City’s retail operation has also continued to break records with incredible demand for the 2022/23 season kits and the most recent kit launch seeing a new shirt sold every 12 seconds on the first day of sales.The popularity of the Club is also reflected in its huge growth and engagement levels across social media, most notably with City being the most popular European club on YouTube for active users and video views this season.  Looking to the future, Manchester City has submitted a planning application to Manchester City Council for the development of a best-in-class fan experience and year-round entertainment and leisure destination at the Etihad Stadium. This project would add a further £300m to City Football Group’s investment and regeneration work in East Manchester.Roel de Vries, Chief Operating Officer at City Football Group, said: “Being recognised as the world’s most valuable football club brand reflects the phenomenal growth story that Manchester City has had in recent years. This achievement recognises the evolution of not just the brand, but the Club as a whole. The Club has been performing consistently and has broken records on and off the pitch this season, whilst operating in a way that promotes financial sustainability.“As we look to the future, we want to keep investing in the right things – our football talent, the city of Manchester and our local community, infrastructure and fan experience. We have a proven track record of innovation and are excited for the next chapter in this Club’s great history.”sibility or could have foreseen any such dama

FOO unveils the Middle East’s newest prepaid travel card solution

Dubai: FOO, an award-winning B2B fintech solutions provider headquartered in the UAE, has unveiled its latest innovation: a customisable, out-of-the-box travel card solution. The prepaid card and digital wallet enables banks to harness the power of fintech to deliver a seamless and cost-effective purchasing experience for their customers, whether at home or abroad.The travel card solution includes an instantly issued prepaid card that can be topped up from anywhere and at any time. It also includes a white label digital wallet app, equipped with sub-wallets for multiple foreign currencies, to facilitate real-time card and currency management. To cater to the specific requirements of the partnered bank, additional modules can also be seamlessly integrated. These optional modules encompass a range of features such as digital onboarding and ATM withdrawals, enhancing the overall offering.Consumers will be able to instantly transfer funds from their main bank account onto the prepaid card and convert their money into various currencies using the accompanying app, without incurring costly transaction or exchange fees. They can conveniently monitor expenses and manage their multiple sub-wallets within one easy-to-use app. When it comes to making purchases in different currencies, the card will automatically draw funds from the corresponding sub-wallet, streamlining the process for the cardholders.This solution will help banks meet consumer demands for cost-effective, secure, and convenient methods of conducting purchases while traveling. What’s more, FOO specializes in offering financial microservices developed in-house, employing a modular ‘plug and play’ model. As a result, FOO’s super-personalized products provide the added advantage of an exceptionally fast time-to-market. Depending on the desired level of customization, FOO’s travel card solution can be ready to launch in as little as 6 weeks.Ghady Rayess, Managing Partner at FOO, comments: “With the boom in business and leisure travel since the pandemic, the multi-currency prepaid card has emerged as an indispensable digital payment solution for travelers. As such, global payment solutions are no longer simply a value added benefit. Consumers expect a seamless experience across various touchpoints, both in their daily life and while traveling abroad. We are excited about the opportunities this innovation brings to the industry and look forward to helping partner banks thrive in today’s dynamic market.”

Aldar Education unveils Aldar Academies’ fresh identity

Abu Dhabi: Aldar Education, a leading education provider in the UAE, today unveiled a new brand identity for Aldar Academies. This reflects the education group’s commitment to innovation, signifies its remarkable progress, and commemorates 15 years of providing high-quality education.The refreshed brand identity captures the growth and evolution of Aldar Academies’ educational offerings while highlighting the individuality of each academy. Under the new brand strategy, each academy now carries the name of the curriculum it offers, including American, British, and International Baccalaureate, with dedicated colours representing each Academy’s unique visual identity.The new names of schools within Aldar Academies are as follows:Pearl British Academy, formerly known as The Pearl Academy, offers an English National curriculum serving early years, and primary students.Muna British Academy, formerly known as Al Muna Academy, offers an English National curriculum serving early years, and primary students.Al Ain British Academy, formerly known as Al Ain Academy, offers an English National curriculum serving early years, primary, and secondary students.Yasmina British Academy, formerly known as Al Yasmina Academy, offers an English National curriculum serving early years, primary, and secondary students.Mamoura British Academy, formerly known as Al Mamoura Academy, is a co-educational primary school until Year 7 and girls-only secondary school, offering an English National curriculum.Bateen World Academy, formerly known as Al Bateen Academy, welcomes primary and secondary school students and offers the UK curriculum, PYP programme and IB Diploma Programme for Years 12 and 13.Yas American Academy, formerly known as West Yas Academy, is the first of the network’s academies to teach the complete American Massachusetts State Curriculum – the most highly regarded curriculum in the United States.The revitalized names and the associated visual identities reflect Aldar Academies' commitment to offering diverse educational pathways while preserving the distinctiveness and heritage of each curriculum.Sahar Cooper, Chief Executive Officer at Aldar Education, said: “Our journey started in 2007 with a single school in Abu Dhabi and 250 students. We have grown over the past 15 years into a renowned educational network, shaping the future of over 8,700 students across seven academies. Now, as we embark on a momentous rebranding initiative, we are excited to unveil a fresh chapter in our evolution. Through this move, we aim to create an even more engaging, inclusive, and inspiring educational environment that will further empower the leaders of tomorrow. This is a promising time for our students as we unlock new opportunities and contribute to the development of a knowledge-based economy in the UAE.”Since establishing its first school, the Pearl Academy in 2007, Aldar Academies has rapidly evolved into a leading provider of private education across a network of seven academies. This extensive network enables each school to access expertise and support, further elevating the quality of education provided.Aldar Academies continues to work towards its promise of delivering the highest standards of education and inspiring a love of learning, with plans to grow its current schools and expand its student capacity in the coming years.