Two Jordan start-ups selected for PepsiCo’s 2023 Greenhouse Accelerator Program

Amman: Today, PepsiCo announced that SmartWTI and Smart Green, start-ups from Jordan, have been chosen to participate in the second cohort of its Greenhouse Accelerator Program: MENA Sustainability Edition, focused on sustainable agriculture. Following a rigorous multi-stage selection process, this year’s cohort brought forward innovative ideas across five key criteria: alignment to PepsiCo’s sustainability strategy – PepsiCo Positive (pep+) – strategic synergy with PepsiCo, scalability, relevance to MENA, and breakthrough potential.Sustainable agriculture takes on special meaning in Jordan, which has no oil resources and a scarce water supply. This raises concerns around food security and creates uncertainty in a region that thrives on long-term planning and predictability. PepsiCo’s Greenhouse Accelerator Program intends to unlock innovative and disruptive agricultural solutions in partnership with purpose-driven start-ups from the region that share PepsiCo’s vision for a more sustainable agriculture and water management system.The six shortlisted companies, SmartWTI, Smart Green, Dooda Solutions, NoorNation, RoboCare and YY ReGen, were selected from over 180 applications across 18 countries. Each of the companies brings a unique level of expertise and innovative solution to the table from all aspects of the agriculture value chain from water preservation to soil cultivation.SmartWTI, an IoT/AI solutions provider from Jordan, specializes in designing and manufacturing water management solutions to enable the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart Green, another Jordanian start-up, provides Agri-tech solutions to agribusinesses for Digital Transformation from traditional agriculture to modern agriculture. These startups have the potential to disrupt the sustainable agriculture industry and make a positive, lasting impact on society.Each will receive an initial grant of $20,000 to support their business and help scale up their innovation, along with guided mentorship from regional subject matter professionals, as well as PepsiCo and Food Tech Valley experts. At the end of the six-month program, one winning company will be awarded an additional $100,000 in funding to continue its expansion and have an opportunity to extend its collaboration with PepsiCo to further expedite its growth.Aamer Sheikh, CEO, Middle East – PepsiCo said, “We are delighted to continue our search for pioneering solutions that help us strengthen the resilience of our food system. This year, we have embarked on a search for transformative direct farming innovations that increase agricultural productivity while conserving our precious natural resources for the next generations. I was impressed with the caliber of the participants in the second cohort, and I am confident that together, we can blaze new trails in sustainable agriculture.”Introduced regionally in 2021, last year’s inaugural program of the PepsiCo Greenhouse Accelerator Program: MENA Sustainability Edition, focused on sustainable packaging and recycling. Two start-ups from Jordan were selected among the 10 shortlisted companies. MEHNA, which aims to find and implement sustainable solutions for the industrial sector and eRecycle Hub which proposes to digitize the scrap-trading business.Amina Mari, CEO, Jordan – MEHNA commented, “Our journey with the first edition of PepsiCo’s Accelerator Program was transformative, equipping us with the essential technical, commercial, financial, and legal skills to propel our start-up forward. With their invaluable guidance and mentorship, we have honed our project development process, identified promising markets and partnerships, and pushed the boundaries of innovation to create sustainable and disruptive solutions. We extend our warmest wishes and support to the next cohort of talented entrepreneurs who are setting out to shape a brighter future.”Recently, the Kingdom of Jordan launched a new water strategy for the years 2023-2040, outlining the government's goals and plans to achieve water security. PepsiCo is committed to an accelerated, sustainable growth agenda in Jordan. It has placed focus on achieving water-use efficiency in operations by implementing best-in-class water-use standards across facilities. Through Jordan Ice & Aerated Water, PepsiCo’s bottling partner in Jordan, the company has invested in watershed health to improve overall ecosystem health and biodiversity, installing six water dams (sand and concrete) and one rainwater collection pond to ensure the watershed is replenished.

KAVAK appoints Nicolas Ariza Bagoud as GM for GCC region

Dubai: KAVAK, the emerging market´s leading used car tech platform, has announced the appointment of Nicolas (Nico) Ariza Bagoud as the new General Manager for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region.With a remarkable 13-year track record in the e-commerce industry across multiple countries, Nico brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to lead KAVAK's expansion in the GCC market. His appointment further solidifies KAVAK's commitment to delivering a transformative used car experience and setting the standard in the pre-owned car industry.In 2022, Nico became a founding member of KAVAK's international team, focused on expanding the company's presence beyond Latin America. His prior roles in finance and operations made him instrumental in setting up teams, structures, and processes in Turkey, the UAE, and Oman. Nico's exceptional leadership and contributions have led to his appointment as General Manager for KAVAK's operations in the UAE and Oman, further solidifying the company's commitment to growth in the GCC region.Speaking about his new role, Nico said: "I am thrilled to be leading KAVAK’s expansion into the GCC market. KAVAK's innovative approach and commitment to revolutionizing the used car industry align perfectly with my passion for customer-centric strategies. I look forward to working closely with the talented team at KAVAK GCC and driving its future success."“Nico’s deep understanding of the solution we are creating, combined with his international experience and strategic vision, make him the ideal candidate to drive KAVAK’s success in the GCC market,” said Carlos Garcia Ottati, Founder and CEO at KAVAK. “His thirst for innovation and expertise in implementing omnichannel strategies will undoubtedly contribute to KAVAK’s mission of transforming the used car market.”Mexico's first technology unicorn, Kavak was established in 2016 by Carlos Garcia Ottati. It is a popular platform in the used car industries, leveraging technology and data-driven strategies. Kavak has spearheaded the transformation of the pre-owned car market in developing nations. By overseeing every aspect of the process, including thorough inspections, refurbishment, warranties, and post-sales services, Kavak ensures quality and reliability. Its aim is to revolutionise the buying and selling experiences by utilising technology and implementing data and AI-driven financial tools. These tools enable a broader range of users, with varying credit profiles, to access financing options for purchasing a vehicle.Over the past year, KAVAK has achieved significant milestones in the GCC region, demonstrating its dedication to providing top-notch services and meeting the region’s high quality expectations. Highlights from the past year include the opening of its most premium hub worldwide, designed to cater to the Dubai market, as well as the establishment and complete in-housing of its reconditioning facilities. These initiatives have led to the creation of approximately 100 new jobs in the GCC region.KAVAK's Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) in the GCC has also experienced substantial growth, almost tripling over the past twelve months of continuous quarterly growth. With the current infrastructure in place, the GCC is poised for healthy growth, projecting a $150-200 million Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) excluding any additional investment.Looking ahead to the next 12-24 months in the GCC, KAVAK has exciting plans to enhance its market presence. By June 2023, its reconditioning facility will be fully operational, with a capacity to produce up to 1,300 cars per month. Its inventory, currently at 500 cars, is projected to triple within the next 12 months and continue growing to make KAVAK the largest car inventory holder in the region within the next 24 months. Moreover, the company will be tripling the number of jobs created in the GCC by the end of 2025, solidifying its commitment to the local economy.

Veeam welcomes Kacy Hassack as Chief People and Culture Officer

DUBAI: ?Veeam® Software, the leader in Data Protection and Ransomware Recovery, today announced the appointment of Kacy Hassack as the company’s Chief People and Culture Officer (CPC). Kacy joins Veeam to lead all things people, including attracting and nurturing talent, leadership development, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, employee engagement, and making Veeam the best place to grow careers and enable everyone to bring their best selves to work.Kacy’s career in human resources spans over two decades. Prior to joining Veeam, Kacy has held leadership roles at global-technology organizations, including Indeed, Amazon Web Services, Hewlett Packard, and Dell. With a focus on global growth and scale, she has lived and worked in multiple regions, including the US, Central America, and Asia Pacific, and in each role has been committed to delivering people-first solutions that help businesses meet their goals. “Great businesses start with great people,” said Kacy Hassack, CPC at Veeam. “Veeam has become #1 in data protection and ransomware recovery by delivering incredible customer-focused innovation. People are at the center of the company’s success, and the Veeam culture reflects that. I am so excited to join Veeam and collaborate with teams across the company to develop strategies that emphasize the value of our employees and new approaches to enable our people to do their best work.” “We’re excited to welcome Kacy to Veeam,” said Anand Eswaran, CEO at Veeam. “She combines a strong track record in creating the best outcomes for employees with the business acumen and passion people need. Veeam is the #1 global market leader in data protection and ransomware recovery, thanks to the passion and ability of our incredible 5,000-plus strong team. Our core values and inclusive work environment underpins our exciting growth journey. ‘Humans’ are not a ‘resource’ at Veeam — people are our most important asset.”

Gambit Communications wins Majid Al Futtaim accounts

Dubai: Gambit Communications has won the accounts for Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Shopping Malls and Majid Al Futtaim Entertainment. Gambit, now the public relations agency for the retail giant, will take charge of communication efforts for both business units in the region.Gambit will oversee the properties of Majid Al Futtaim Shopping Malls, which consist of Mall of the Emirates, City Centre Deira, City Centre Mirdif, City Centre Zahia, and City Centre Bahrain. Additionally, the agency will manage the group's entertainment attractions, including VOX Cinemas, Ski Dubai, Magic Planet, Dreamscape, Snow Oman, and the recently opened Snow Abu Dhabi.This appointment follows a pitch process spanning the last six months.Founder and Managing Director of Gambit Communications, Jamal Al Mawed, expressed his pride in collaborating with the Majid Al Futtaim Group. He acknowledged the significance of these destinations and attractions in the region's national, social, and tourism landscape. Being a local agency, deeply familiar with these malls and attractions from personal experiences, Gambit holds a fundamental understanding of their cultural importance. Al Mawed emphasized the agency's excitement to share their stories with the world.Gambit Communications recently expanded its team with six new hires, as part of a rapid growth phase that includes prominent additions to its portfolio, such as Aramex, Majid Al Futtaim Shopping Malls, and Entertainment.Gambit Communications, an independent communications agency born in Dubai, handles various brands, including TikTok, Acer, BMW, Amazon Payment Services, Porsche, Mandarin Oriental, Aramex, and more.pc:

Rain, Amazon Payment Services partner for unique B2B advertising

Dubai: Rain, a leading creative agency, has partnered with Amazon Payment Services to create a brand film that breaks away from the conventional norms of the industry. This collaboration aims to inject emotion, creativity, and enjoyment into B2B advertising, challenging the notion that professionalism means stripping advertising of its human touch.According to The B2B Institute, there is a significant gap in the creative aspects of B2B advertising, often lacking the engaging and captivating elements found in B2C campaigns. Recognizing this untapped potential, Rain set out to create a brand film for Amazon Payment Services that truly stands out amidst the monotonous landscape of digital payments advertising.While competitors in the fintech industry focused on showcasing their technological prowess, Amazon Payment Services, in partnership with Rain, made a strategic decision to prioritize the needs of their customers and demonstrate a deep understanding of what merchants truly expect from a digital payment service provider. By defying category norms and incorporating storytelling into the fintech space, the collaboration aimed to create something truly different and compelling.To bring the story of Amazon Payment Services to life in a captivating manner, Rain opted for a music video format, combining the power of visual storytelling with the universal language of music. Renowned music video director Brandon Hansford, known for his acclaimed work, was enlisted to helm the film, ensuring a high-quality production that resonates with viewers. The collaboration also included the musical expertise of Alaa Wardi, a YouTube sensation with over a million followers, who directed the music for the film.Kalika Tripathi, Head of Marketing, Payments, at Amazon Payment Services, expressed enthusiasm for the project, stating, "One of our biggest communication challenges in this region is adapting to the language nuances in different geographies. And here was a script that spoke a universal language – the language of music. I loved the storytelling too. I knew this is how I wanted to communicate to our audiences about what we, at Amazon Payment Services, are all about."The partnership between Rain and Amazon Payment Services exemplifies a bold and innovative approach to B2B advertising, ushering in a new era where creativity and emotional connection are valued in the corporate landscape. By daring to be different, both companies are setting a new standard for engaging B2B campaigns that resonate with audiences on a deeper level.

Leo Burnett Middle East tops the Global Effies Index 2022

Dubai: Leo Burnett Middle East has secured the coveted title of Most Effective Agency Office in the world in the 2022 Effie Index, a global ranking of the most effective agencies, marketers and brands. Announced annually, the 2022 Effies Index analysed more than 4,300 winner and finalist entries from Effie Awards competitions across the globe, with Leo Burnett, led by the Dubai office outperforming all regional and global agencies to claim the #1 ranking.Bassel Kakish, CEO of Publicis Groupe ME&T said, “The Middle East has been fast emerging as a powerhouse of creative effectiveness, and we’ve just solidified this to the world. To be ranked #1 is a worthy milestone, but the honour of being able to showcase the calibre of our talent in the global spotlight is immeasurable. This is a shared moment of pride for Publicis Groupe, our trusted clients, and our exceptional talents who continue to raise the bar for the industry.”Adding to this Tahaab Rais, Chief Strategy Officer, Publicis Groupe ME&T said, “Effectiveness is a business imperative for us and a duty towards the brands we partner with. Emerging on top of the Global Effie Index as an agency, as a network and as a holding company from out of the MENA region – a first for Publicis Groupe agencies globally too - is a testament to the efforts over the past one year by our people, our partners, and our clients, collectively. This goes out to all of them. We’ve outcared, outworked and outlasted - not just regionally but also globally, setting another benchmark for our region on the global stage.”Leo Burnett Middle East’s global ranking comes after a strong showing at the MENA Effies last November, where they clinched the night’s top honours with ‘Most Effective Agency Office’ and ‘Most Effective Agency Network’. An impressive number of Effies wins for brand campaigns with brands such as ABAAD, Emirates NBD, Home Box, IKEA, Lebanese Transparency Association, McDonald’s GCC, Project Chaiwala, Samsung, and UN Women, solidified their leading position."There's a beautiful thing about the Effies. They've never been about effectiveness alone. It's a creative effectiveness award. At Leo Burnett, we are our clients' business partners, with our most creative ideas helping solve their business challenges. This accolade is a testament to the in-tandem efforts of our teams and clients over the past year, in the relentless pursuit of creativity that delivers results,” said Kalpesh Patankar, Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett Dubai.The Effies Index is considered to be one of the most authoritative rankings of marketing effectiveness. This is the first time an agency under Publicis Groupe globally has claimed a #1 spot on the Effies Index.“No company appears on the Effie Index by chance. To be ranked in the Index demonstrates a relentless commitment to delivering ideas that work, all underpinned by a culture of effectiveness,” said Traci Alford, Global CEO, Effie Worldwide. “On behalf of the entire Effie organisation, congratulations on this well-earned recognition.”

Ken Maw appointed as the new Managing Director of Al Futtaim Willis

Dubai: Al Futtaim Willis, a leading insurance brokerage firm in the UAE, is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Kenneth George Maw (Ken Maw), as the company's new Managing Director. With an impressive career spanning close to 40 years in the insurance broking, consultancy, and risk management fields across five continents, Mr. Maw brings extensive industry experience and expertise to his role at Al Futtaim Willis.Prior to joining Al Futtaim Willis, Mr. Maw held esteemed positions in the insurance industry. He served as the CEO of HSBC Insurance Brokers Dubai, where he played a pivotal role in shaping the company's strategic direction and driving growth. Later, Mr. Maw assumed the role of President & Group CEO at Insure Direct, a company he was a founding partner of, successfully leading the organization through a period of expansion and innovation.As the new Managing Director, Mr. Maw will assume overall responsibility for leading the company's operations, driving business strategy, and fostering strong client relationships. He will work closely with the executive team to further strengthen Al Futtaim Willis' position as a trusted partner in the insurance industry.In light of this appointment, the company would also like to express its deep respect and gratitude to the outgoing Managing Director, Mr. Rajendran M. Mr. Rajendran has served Al Futtaim Willis Insurance Brokers with dedication and expertise for the past 10 years, contributing significantly to the company's success and growth. His contributions and leadership will be fondly remembered and valued.Al Futtaim Willis Insurance Brokers looks forward to embarking on a new chapter under the leadership of Mr. Ken Maw. His appointment represents a significant milestone for the company, and his deep industry knowledge and global experience will undoubtedly contribute to its continued success.

Lockheed Martin taps Abdullah Alajmi to head space business development

Riyadh: Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) today announced the appointment of Retired Brigadier General Abdullah Alajmi as the company’s new Space Business Development Director for Saudi Arabia. Alajmi assumes the position based in Riyadh, where he will coordinate and support the Kingdom’s space efforts, while strategically amplifying Lockheed Martin’s presence in the region.In alignment with the Kingdom's Vision 2030 goals, Alajmi's new role involves strengthening partnerships with government and commercial entities to foster the development of groundbreaking technologies – all of which seek to enhance national capabilities and bolster the burgeoning space industry in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, Alajmi will help oversee the facilitation of scientific experiments and international research collaborations, as well as the administration of future space-related missions.“With his vast armed forces and aerospace experience, Abdullah will certainly augment the Kingdom’s strategic initiatives in this exciting and emerging field,” said Joseph Rank, Lockheed Martin’s chief executive for Saudi Arabia and Africa. “We are incredibly fortunate to have him on board and look forward to seeing him soar as a valued leader within Lockheed Martin’s space division.”“I am honored to join Lockheed Martin as its Space Business Development Director for Saudi Arabia. Together, we will work towards positioning the Kingdom as a key leader in space exploration and innovation,” said Abdullah Alajmi.Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, Alajmi served in the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) for Remote Sensing and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Space domains. He has also served as the Satellite Directorate Director for the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Defense and participated in several space committees facilitated by the Kingdom and the Gulf Cooperation Council for almost two decades. Alajmi holds a Master’s Degree in Science and the Military Use of Remote Sensing, from Oklahoma State University.

Huawei opens a new state-of-the-art office in Qatar

Qatar: In line with its expansion plans in Qatar and its commitment to support the country’s digital transformation, ICT ecosystem, and digital economy, Huawei today opened a new state-of-the-art Qatar office in the UDC tower, The Pearl Island, Qatar.The new 4,000 SQM office will house Huawei’s main Qatar operation team and will help meet the future needs of the company’s growing workforce. The move reaffirms Huawei’s long-term commitment to Qatar and is a milestone in the company expansion plan targeted at enhancing its presence, activities, offerings and contributions to the Qatar market to achieve its mandate to play a key role in achieving the country’s digital transformation goals.The new office inauguration was attended by His Excellency Mr. Mohammed bin Ali Al Mannai, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, and senior representatives from the Investment Promotion Agency of Qatar (IPA Qatar), United Development Company (UDC), Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the State of Qatar and Huawei management team led by Mr. Steven Yi, President, Huawei Middle East and Central Asia.Commenting on Huawei’s new office opening, H.E. Mr. Mohammed bin Ali Al Mannai said: “Huawei is considered one of our important partners and is among the top leading companies in the field of information and communication technology. I am pleased to welcome Huawei's new expansion in Qatar. There is no doubt that this will contribute to enhancing digital innovation and creating new digital opportunities in the Qatari market.”Mr. Steven Yi, President, Huawei Middle East and Central Asia, said: “Today’s new office opening is a commitment to our future in Qatar. We are proud of our history in the country and Huawei will continue to support Qatar’s digital transformation through its cutting-edge technology solutions. I look forward to welcoming customers, partners, visitors and Huawei team members to our new office. I am confident that this expansion will drive further recruitment of elite talent who will take the lead in achieving the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030, towards a leading sustainable digital society.”Huawei’s new office will host the company’s business operations, including Carrier Networks, Enterprise, Consumer, Cloud, and Digital Power. In addition, the new office will play a critical role in managing the company’s CSR programs and initiatives in Qatar, such as Huawei’s flagship program, Seeds for the Future, ICT Competition, and ICT Academy. The new office will also host an exhibition center that will function as an executive briefing center, showcasing many of the company’s products, solutions, and advanced technologies in the ICT industry.  With a seafront and Qatar skyline view, Huawei’s new office has broad and open collaborative areas with natural light and beautiful landscapes. Following the curves that were inspired by the ocean waves, spaces were created to hold meetings and demonstrate Huawei’s industry-leading technologies to clients.United Development Company (UDC), the master developer of The Pearl Island and Gewan Island, signed an agreement last year with Huawei to boost the smart city characteristics by designing and integrating innovative solutions at The Pearl Island. Last year, at Milipol Qatar 2022, UDC extended its partnership with Huawei to deploy its smart campus system at the new UDC development at Gewan Island.Huawei has been operating in the Qatari market since 2003 and currently works with both telecom providers – Ooredoo and Vodafone Qatar – serving approximately two million people in the country. Huawei is also actively cultivating local ICT talents to contribute to Qatar’s ICT ecosystem. Huawei expanded its STEM and education initiatives last year through its flagship CSR program, ‘Seeds for the Future’, Huawei ICT Competition, and Huawei ICT Academy to further support the country’s core focus on innovation.

KPMG launches Generative AI Adoption framework in collaboration with Microsoft

Dubai:  KPMG Lower Gulf has announced the launch of the Generative AI Centre of Excellence (CoE) in the UAE in collaboration with Microsoft to develop, manage and deploy AI strategy and governance, best practices, training, and solutions that will enable digital transformation for government organizations and businesses. The initiative is aimed to strengthen AI usage, and comes on the heels of the launch of a comprehensive guide by the UAE Government on generative AI applications, like Azure OpenAI Service and OpenAI’s ChatGPT.Fady Kassatly, Partner and Head of Digital and Innovation at KPMG Lower Gulf, said: “To complement the UAE government’s efforts in promoting the adoption of AI technologies across various fields, KPMG will bring its global functional and industry expertise and innovation capabilities to assist organizations in navigating the ever-evolving landscape of AI through our pioneering Centre of Excellence. This hub will provide a solid foundation of governance and framework for ethical implementations of AI, including AI-readiness assessment, pilots, strategy, deployment, and training. Organizations will also be exposed to a team of skilled and well-versed experts in Generative AI who will enable them to stay ahead of the curve and ensure maximum return on investment.”KPMG becomes one of the first organizations in the UAE collaborating with Microsoft to establish a Generative AI Centre of Excellence, delivering enterprise grade AI solutions and services.Naim Yazbeck, General Manager at Microsoft UAE added: “The continual developments in Generative AI are opening up new possibilities for various industries. We are pleased to work with KPMG on this initiative and contribute knowledge and technology including Azure OpenAI Service. The CoE in the UAE will empower regional governments and businesses to build new pathways and adopt AI in a secure and ethical manner. Equally, it will help organizations make informed decisions, and enhance their business competitiveness.”The CoE will be at the forefront of helping set up AI policies and standards and will accelerate the adoption of Generative AI using ethical practices and reference architecture in the UAE and the wider region. It will assess and evaluate the potential applications for Generative AI in an organization. It will also enhance collaboration between different business units to identify and experiment with real business use-cases to create standardized Generative AI adoption and drive implementation.Generative AI has a tremendous range of business use cases applicable within an organization from HR, finance, supply chain, procurement, to sales and marketing. KPMG is also implementing multiple Generative AI use cases internally, in order to immerse and upskill its people in understanding the power of the technology and leverage it to increase productivity and gain efficiency.The CoE will support the UAE’s digital ambitions and empower organizations to effectively harness AI solutions and drive desired business outcomes. Organizations can test and validate their business use-cases by building prototypes and minimum viable products (MVPs) before going into production, and will benefit enormously from a culture of innovation, continuous learning, and collaboration at the CoE hub.

Middle East emerges as a gaming powerhouse: BCG report

Dubai: The Middle East is rapidly advancing to shape the future of gaming and esports, with unprecedented government investments. Over $3 billion was invested in the industry by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) in 2022, as part of a much larger $38 billion commitment by PIF to be used by its company Savvy Games Group (SGG). Multiple acquisitions in gaming (Embracer Group, Scopely) and esports (ESL, FACEIT, VSPO) have already been executed. Additionally, Abu Dhabi Gaming has created a dedicated gaming and esports hub with strong incentives.BCG's latest gaming report titled 'Game Changer: Accelerating the Media Industry’s Most Dynamic Sector', highlights that more than 60% of the population in the Middle East are gaming enthusiasts, resulting in one of the highest shares of gaming mobile app downloads (50% compared to the global average of 40%). This explains why the region has demonstrated a long-term commitment to the gaming sector, with Saudi Arabia recently announcing its gaming and esports strategy, and the UAE creating two gaming centers to attract global companies.Dr. Alexander Schudey, Managing Director & Partner at BCG, said, "The Middle East is a key player in the global gaming industry, with an impressive penetration rate and a strong commitment from governments to invest in the sector. The region's focus on gaming and the establishment of dedicated gaming hubs makes it an attractive destination for global gaming companies. The young and digitally savvy population, particularly in Saudi Arabia, where 70% of the population is below the age of 30, combined with higher disposable incomes and a preference for indoor activities due to the hot weather, further contribute to the region's thriving gaming ecosystem."A strong indication of Middle East populations towards gaming is strong growth of game streaming at 24.5% CAGR, which is on path to reach approximately 200 million users in 2025, according to Boston Consulting Group's latest gaming report. The region's growth is three times faster compared to China, the current leader, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.5% versus 7.6%.Pavel Kasperovich, Principal at BCG, commented, "The Middle East's gaming market is diverse, with both casual and core gamers contributing to its growth. The region's focus on mobile gaming and the continued popularity of console and PC games demonstrate its adaptability and potential for further expansion. The significant government commitment, such as Saudi Arabia's $38 billion investment in gaming companies and Abu Dhabi's attractive incentives for gaming businesses, highlights the region's dedication to fostering a thriving gaming industry. Furthermore, the potential for gaming and esports to enhance the tourism sector in the UAE and Saudi Arabia presents a unique opportunity to market these experiences to a global audience."BCG's gaming report identifies four major trends that will likely have the largest impact on the industry's future:1. Audience growth and demographic shifts: Gaming industry growth is broadening demographically. Gen Y, who grew up playing video games, is entering their 30s with average gamer age at 31. However, children and youth still drive audience growth. Gen Z is the first generation to play as much as watch videos, leading gaming to surpass other forms of entertainment in numbers and time spent in the future.2. Innovation from players: In the gaming market, innovation takes a unique path compared to other media segments, with consumer communities playing a significant role in driving change. Today, platforms like Roblox and Minecraft are making it easier for users to generate content and innovate within games, as evidenced by the Squid Game-inspired game on Roblox and advancements in game engine technology by Epic (Unreal) and Unity. Moreover, publishers are quick to adopt and commercialize user-driven innovations, such as incorporating MOBA features into first-person shooter games like Activision-Blizzard's Overwatch. This trend of consumer-driven innovation is expected to continue, particularly with platforms that facilitate game development and creativity for gamers.3. Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) activity: The gaming industry is witnessing a surge in consolidation as major publishers, media companies, and technology firms acquire studios and gaming-related assets globally. Over 650 gaming M&A or investment deals were announced or closed in the first half of 2022, with top players controlling more than 70% of the market. These companies pursue two main M&A strategies: consolidation of game development and extension of internal capabilities. Consolidation helps achieve economies of scale, support rising development costs, and facilitate experimentation with new intellectual properties. Meanwhile, extending internal capabilities allows publishers to access cutting-edge technologies in areas like in-game advertising and motion tracking, enhancing the gaming experience and boosting revenue streams.4. New use cases: The gaming industry witnessed the emergence of the metaverse as a groundbreaking concept that is revolutionizing digital experiences. Gaming, as a pioneer in this field, laid the foundations for the metaverse long before its widespread adoption. It introduced key elements that now define this immersive virtual world. Today, gaming not only serves as the core use case to attract people to the metaverse but also plays a vital role as a contributor from a technological perspective. Cutting-edge advancements in game engines, motion tracking, and other technologies have seamlessly integrated with the metaverse, enhancing its capabilities, and pushing the boundaries of what is achievable.As the Middle East continues to emerge as a gaming powerhouse, the region's commitment to innovation, investment, and audience engagement will play a significant role in shaping the future of the global gaming industry.

UAE IT leaders say their digital infra can accommodate AI technology

DUBAI: More than three out of four IT leaders surveyed in the UAE (77%) say their existing IT infrastructure is prepared for the demands of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, as the country experiences widespread adoption across industries, according to the Equinix 2023 Global Tech Trends Survey. The UAE scored higher than other countries in preparedness to accommodate AI, with only 58% of global and 51% of EMEA IT leaders believing their infrastructure is prepared for AI.The survey, which examined IT leaders’ responses to AI advances in their organizations, comes after a year of significant AI breakthroughs that saw the technology rapidly deployed in applications across both the business-to-business and business-to-consumer sectors.“Tech leaders globally are expediting AI’s integration into their organizations, and it is increasingly becoming a critical capability to enable intelligent and autonomous systems that power a modern business. Those who fail to maximize its use could fall behind,” said Kaladhar Voruganti, Senior Technologist at Equinix.Equinix’s global survey of 2,900 IT decision-makers confirmed AI uptake is on the rise across all industry sectors, with 85% of respondents worldwide seeking to benefit from the advantages of AI and already using or planning to use it across multiple key functions. In the UAE, organizations are most likely to be using AI, or planning to do so, in IT operations (97%), followed by cybersecurity (95%), and sales (95%).“Successful development of accurate AI models depends upon secure and high-speed access to both internal and external data sources that can be spread across multiple clouds and data brokers,” added Voruganti. “For example, as enterprises embark on creating their own private generative AI solutions, they may want to process their confidential data at a private and secure location with high-speed access to external data sources and AI models. Furthermore, we are entering an era where more data is being generated at the edge. Hence, AI processing has to move to the edge for performance, privacy and cost reasons. In order to satisfy the above requirements, tech leaders can implement hybrid solutions where AI model training and model inference can occur at different locations. Ultimately, to create scalable AI solutions, businesses must consider whether their IT frameworks can accommodate the required data ingestion, sharing, storage and processing of massive and diverse data sets, while keeping sustainability in mind.”“It is interesting to note that UAE businesses are more comfortable with accommodating AI’s growing use compared to global averages. AI is being used across diverse business functions in the country from IT Operations to customer experience, and marketing. This result is testament to the country’s visionary leadership which first launched its Artificial Intelligence Strategy in 2017, aiming to be the world leader in AI by 2031.” said Kamel Al-Tawil, Managing Director, Equinix MENA."At Equinix, we have designed our AI strategy to enable our customers to capitalize on the immense potential of AI, leveraging its predictive and analytical capabilities to drive innovation, enhance end user experiences, and optimize operations. As we witness increased AI-driven innovation in the UAE, we are well positioned to support local businesses with the right digital infrastructure.”IT leaders in EMEA had the most uncertainty about the ability of their infrastructure to accommodate the needs of AI (49%), compared to leaders in Asia-Pacific (44%) and the Americas (32%).In addition to digital infrastructure updates, the survey also highlighted the need for education and collaboration to enable IT teams to optimize the deployment of this infrastructure, with AI and machine learning expertise being sought by 52% of those growing their IT teams. hosts emirati businesses workshop

Dubai:  In line with its continuous commitment to supporting local businesses and Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), Amazon hosted an Emirati Businesses Workshop this week in Dubai. Supporting Emirati businesses scale online successfully as they navigate today’s digital economy, the interactive session provided knowledge and guidance on how to best leverage Amazon’s capabilities, tools, services, and programs to reach millions of Amazon customers while accelerating growth.The workshop was attended by key government and SME support entities from the Ministry of Economy, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Sandooq Al Watan, as well as the in5 accelerator.Ronaldo Mouchawar, Vice President of Amazon Middle East and North Africa (MENA), said: "At Amazon, supporting local businesses and SMEs is not just a priority for us; it is a fundamental part of our work and an embodiment of our customer-centric culture. Aligning with the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, we aim to grow the number of businesses and local SMEs that sell on from 50,000 to 100,000 by 2026, which is why strategic initiatives of this nature are of core importance. We are proud to be able to contribute to the UAE’s ambitious plans as we strive to support the country’s thriving landscape.”Zeina El Kaissi, Director of Public Policy for Amazon MENA, added: “In every milestone of Amazon’s growth in the UAE, our government stakeholders are present and supportive. We are proud of this latest collaboration with them in support of Emirati SMEs, and are pleased to have hosted them in the workshop to hear first-hand from local businesses and entrepreneurs”.Emirati businesses of all sizes, including SMEs, attended the workshop, with sessions led by a team of Amazon experts who provided valuable insights into the advantages of selling on Amazon, and outlined the key steps to becoming a successful seller. Additionally, workshops were held to discuss fulfillment and logistics solutions, growth programs, and tools for brand building.Manea Al-Kaabi, CEO of Emirates Beekepers, said: “We sincerely thank Amazon for organizing the workshop for sellers in the UAE. Their remarkable efforts in providing us with important information and instructions were truly commendable. The presence of Amazon’s dedicated teams from the marketing and registration departments, offering us unwavering assistance, has earned my utmost admiration and appreciation. The opportunity to sell my products on Amazon is truly a game-changer for me. It is a significant leap forward in my journey towards rapid and professional globalization. I look forward to more workshops from Amazon catered to business owners in the UAE, as they have proven to be invaluable learning experiences."The majority of products sold on comes from third-party sellers, most of which are SMEs. Over the years Amazon has progressively launched tools to help local businesses reach their full potential, such as Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) – a service that allows businesses to outsource order fulfillment to Amazon, whereby Amazon fulfillment specialists receive inventory and store products in order to pick, pack, and ship the order to customers with free and fast delivery options.Businesses can visit for more information on how to set-up a selling partner account if they are new to Amazon, or learn more about ways to optimize their business’ performance if they are currently selling on quotes:Jasmin Frick, Director of Seller Success at Amazon MENA, added: “We are thrilled to have met some of the UAE’s most innovative businesses and budding SMEs as they came together during the workshop. We continuously work to empower local businesses to accelerate their performance, and fuel the UAE’s growth. We will continue to support local businesses and SMEs successfully grow by connecting them with customers on, and providing logistics solutions such as Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). Our Global Registration Program on also makes it easier and more seamless for local sellers to have access to sell on Amazon stores globally, reaching hundreds of millions of worldwide active customer accounts.”Rahma Al Muhairbi, Founder of Bahara, said: “I am deeply grateful to Amazon for organizing a workshop dedicated to supporting business owners in the UAE, and I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the entire team for their unwavering commitment and valuable time devoted to us. The workshop has proved vey beneficial, especially due to the presence of a knowledgeable team that is fully aware of Amazon’s procedures, providing clear and practical explanations that surpass what we can find online.”She added, "I would like to express my gratitude to Amazon for offering this unique opportunity to attend and participate in a workshop that delivered an abundance of useful information. We hope to future workshops on a large scale be organized, encompassing a greater number of business owners in the UAE.”

DMS partners with Footballco to revolutionize sports marketing in MENA

Dubai: Choueiri Group's digital division, Digital Media Services (DMS), has formed a strategic alliance with Footballco, a global football content and media enterprise. Under this partnership, DMS will exclusively represent Footballco's Kooora and GOAL properties in the MENA region.The collaboration between DMS and Footballco follows Footballco's acquisition of Kooora, a sports website that was previously partnered with DMS. DMS COO Ziad Khammer sees this partnership as a natural progression due to their successful decade-long representation of Kooora and the numerous achievements they have accomplished together. This collaboration aligns with DMS's mission to enhance their "exceptional" brand experiences.Footballco's acquisition of Kooora was part of their strategic plan to expand their presence in the Middle East, where they are already active through local editions of GOAL and the FC Player in-stream sports video player.The MENA region has experienced remarkable growth in football investment and fanbase. According to Seth Hart, Senior Vice President of Sales for Footballco, the region has witnessed a $15 billion investment in football infrastructure since 2017, with the number of fans increasing from 392 million to 524 million in the past two years.The acquisition allowed Football to consolidate its properties, GOAL and Kooora, thereby expanding its regional audience to 60 million and achieving a monthly global reach of 800 million. This combination positions Footballco to capture 80 percent of the GCC football market.As the world's largest football content and media enterprise, Footballco recognizes the vital importance of the MENA region not only to their business but also to the football industry as a whole. Hence, their acquisition of Kooora last year and their current partnership with DMS aim to connect brands with the hundreds of millions of fans they engage with on a monthly basis, both within and outside the region.Khammer believes that given the region's immense passion for football, their collaboration with Footballco will revolutionize sports marketing by offering a unique blend of global and local services that will reshape the industry like never before.

The Independents secures USD 400 million investment

Dubai: The Independents, a global marketing and communications group specializing in luxury and lifestyle brands, has secured a USD 400 million investment led by TowerBrook Capital Partners L.P. and FL Entertainment. This is a significant milestone for the company, setting the stage for an exciting second phase of development.With this substantial investment, The Independents aims to accelerate its acquisition strategy and expand its presence on an international scale. As the leading global marketing and communications group for luxury and lifestyle brands, The Independents encompasses a diverse range of expertise, including communications, digital marketing, experience design, content creation, and influencer strategy. The group's portfolio consists of six world-renowned agencies: BUREAU BETAK & BUREAU FUTURE, K2, KARLA OTTO, Lefty, PRODJECT, LLC, and THE QODE. These agencies operate across Asia, the USA, Europe, and the Middle East.The strategic partnership with TowerBrook Capital Partners L.P. and FL Entertainment will empower The Independents to solidify its position as the preeminent global communications, marketing, and event management partner for the world's most iconic luxury brands in sectors such as fashion, design, lifestyle, hospitality, and the arts.The Independents has established itself as a cross-sector leader, combining its agencies' synergistic expertise to deliver innovative and impactful solutions for clients. By leveraging the newly secured investment, the group will further enhance its capabilities, strengthen its global network, and capitalize on new market opportunities.In the picture: The Independents Group CEO Isabelle Chouvet

GoDaddy introduces new cyber security offering

Jeddah: GoDaddy, the company that helps entrepreneurs thrive, has announced today the launch of its latest cyber security offering; a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Setup Service; a more cost-effective way to set up SSL certificates for entrepreneur and small businesses customers who have simple websites with limited budgets.The new security feature, part of GoDaddy’s security offering, including Website Security and a full range of SSL certificates, is a more economical option that will help keep a site safe and secure. Entrepreneurs and small business owners who do not need ongoing support, can benefit from this new service. The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Setup Service means GoDaddy experts only install configure and troubleshoot the SSL certificates. This new service can eliminate frustration and saving entrepreneurs time to allow them to create, manage and grow their business, or their clients’ online presence.Selina Bieber, Commercial Strategy Senior Director, International Markets at GoDaddy said, “GoDaddy are proud to evolve our offering to suit a range of customers. The SSL Setup Service is the latest addition to GoDaddy’s existing fully Managed SSL service, helping entrepreneurs and small business owners focus on their businesses by giving them all the tools they need to grow online,.”GoDaddy's 2021 Website Security Survey shed light on the security concerns faced by MENA customer websites, with over 50% of them necessitating enhanced security measures. Notably, the survey highlighted that MENA entrepreneurs' primary apprehensions revolved around the exposure of customer data and the potential loss of customer trust.To help ensure the safety and security of customers’ websites as well as that of their own end customers, the new security proposition is equipped with security features including redirect to https, update of all mixed content to ensure the padlock shows in browser address bars, sitemap update so that Google recognizes that the site is loading securely over https, WAF settings update if the site has a firewall to ensure full encryption. A benefit of having a secure website is that it, in turn, boosts Google® rankings, and is supported by GoDaddy experts 24/7.Purchasing an SSL is just the first step in protecting a site and the customer’s sensitive visitor information. The SSL also must be set up, requiring multiple steps and often a higher technical know-how to accomplish. This can create a frustrating experience for a small-to-medium sized business owner (SMB) or even busy website professionals (Pros). For a small fee, SMBs and Pros can have GoDaddy setup the SSL to make sure it is functioning as expected on their site.Furthermore, customers can always pay a web development professional to install and develop their website. The new proposition offers the competitive benefit to customers of ease and peace of mind of not having to manage a relationship with the professional.The new product also allows for installation and configuration management and mixed content update service which is not readily available in the market.

Epicor appoints Chief Product & Technology Officer

Dubai: Epicor, a global leader of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth, has announced Vaibhav Vohra has been appointed Chief Product and Technology Officer. With this move, the Product Development and Product Management teams will be unified under Vohra’s leadership, further enabling Epicor to deliver customer-centric SaaS solutions and continued innovation through AI, automation, and design.  “In his time at Epicor as Chief Product Officer, Vaibhav has been instrumental in driving our product strategy and spearheading the Epicor vision for the connected Data Supply Chain,” said Epicor CEO Steve Murphy. “We are confident that with Vaibhav’s leadership, we will continue to deliver the innovations and intelligence our customers across the Make, Move, and Sell industries require to compete in today’s marketplace.”This transition comes after a collaborative succession planning effort alongside Bill Wilson, who over the past year has served as Chief Technology Officer leading the Product Development organization, delivering best-in-class, industry-focused technologies for Epicor customers. Wilson will continue serving as a technical advisor for all products and overseeing key customer initiatives, including leading the Retail product teams.“Through powerful technologies including cloud computing, business intelligence, and AI we’re empowering our customers’ workforces – from the top floor to the shop floor – to reimagine how workstreams and collaboration across the essential industries get done,” said Vohra. “I’m excited to continue working across our product organization to build the adaptive and agile cognitive ERP platform of the future, giving our customers an insight advantage to succeed.”

CyberKnight brings the world’s first self-protecting browser to the Middle East

Dubai: According to Gartner “by 2030, enterprise browsers will be the core platform for delivering workforce productivity and security software on managed and unmanaged devices for a seamless hybrid work experience.” Gartner also forecast that “by 2030, the browser will become a platform from which enterprises can distribute software, collect intelligence, control access and securely enable remote work.”Island is the leader and pioneer in the Enterprise Browser market. Island’s Enterprise Browser gives organizations complete control over the last mile, delivering entirely new levels of security, visibility, governance, and productivity. It is the ideal workspace, where work flows freely while remaining fundamentally secure, and is a simplified, effective solution for a wide variety of security challenges, including contractor and third-party access, BYOD, protection of critical SaaS and web applications, and zero trust access.CyberKnight has signed a distribution partnership with Island to support the Middle East’s enterprise and government organizations in defending against advanced threats and enabling enhanced productivity.“We are thrilled about this strategic partnership with Island, a game-changing platform that offers organizations complete control, visibility, and governance, while delivering the same smooth Chromium-based browser experience users expect. Our goal is to take the victory away from cyber criminals, and we believe we can now do that by ensuring a safe operating experience, in a way that consumer browsers were never designed to deliver.”, commented Vivek Gupta, Co-Founder & COO at CyberKnight.“I am elated to make our entry into the thriving Middle East region through our momentous partnership with CyberKnight. I am excited about the incredible opportunities this collaboration presents. By combining the cutting-edge security and productivity features of Island, the enterprise browser, with the diverse and dynamic business landscape of the Middle East, we aim to revolutionize the way organizations operate. We look forward to empowering businesses across the region to unleash their full potential, drive innovation, and achieve unprecedented heights of success.", said Ashley Brinsford, Head of EMEA Sales at Island.

Super trendy furniture brand Daze launches first store in the UAE

Dubai : A new season brings the desire for a fresh new look – and for Dubai interior design lovers there’s a brand-new store launch that has got hearts racing.The super trendy Daze brand has landed in the country and opened its first ever store, under the patronage of the Ambassador of Lebanon in the UAE – just in time to celebrate the style leader’s tenth anniversary.Offering affordable luxury and eye-catching designs, Daze pieces blend contemporary sensibilities with traditions of excellence in craftsmanship – which is why the furniture brand has built such a strong following in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.Now, residents of Dubai can elevate their living spaces with ease as they choose from a breathtaking assortment of modern furniture, mesmerizing lighting fixtures, and home accessories that truly stand apart from the rest in terms of quality and sheer uniqueness.On the back of its recent successes, Daze has also confirmed it will be expanding the franchise further into the UAE and overseas.

Bridgestone EMIA highlights positive outlook of EV market in Middle East

Bridgestone EMIA, one of the global leaders in tyres and sustainable mobility solutions highlighted the significance of electric vehicles (EVs) as a potential sustainable solution for the automotive sector and indicated the market’s promising future in the Middle East during its participation at the Electric Vehicle Innovation Summit (EVIS).During the Summit, which was held recently in Abu Dhabi, the company emphasised the rising demand for premium tyres and technologies to meet the specific requirements of the EV segment.Gaurav Malhotra, Head of Consumer - PBU Middle East and Africa at Bridgestone EMIA said: “At Bridgestone, we are dedicated to accelerating the switch to electric vehicles as they are eco-friendly and generate lesser emissions during the use phase compared to any other commercial vehicles. We have adopted a circular business model at our company to navigate the automotive industry towards a sustainable future, embracing green practices and decarbonising techniques across the value chain. EVs represent a vital innovation in reducing the transport sector’s footprint, placing us on the right track towards sustainable mobility. To contribute to these efforts, we are producing sustainable and premium tyres with innovative designs that effectively meets all relevant needs pertaining to this type of vehicle.”In line with its commitment to delivering sustainable and efficient mobility solutions, Bridgestone has joined forces with several leading EV manufacturers around the world to develop a range of innovative tyres that cater to the special and evolving demands of electric vehicles. Utilising various industry-leading and eco-friendly tyre technologies, the company has demonstrated excellence in the delivery of state-of-the-art mobility solutions that aid a safe and energy-efficient travel, placing themselves as a leader in providing sustainable mobility and advanced solutions.Malhotra further provided several valuable insights into the sustainable mobility revolution at the EVIS as one of the panellists for the discussion titled ‘Future of EVs in the Middle East and Across the Globe.’ Other panellists included Somayyah Adbdulla Alyammahi, Head of Productivity Projects and Demand Management section at the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure; Dan Balmer, Regional Director at APAC and Middle East – Group Lotus; Prof. Robert Hamilton, Global Commercial Director at IVESCO; and Ali Eslami, Founder and CEO of AXL Electric Vehicles. Anil Antony, Global Head of Automotive at NielsenIQ, was the moderator for this panel discussion.He added: “More proactive efforts and significant investments in innovative technologies are essential to achieving the long-term environmental targets and goals as well as shaping a sustainable future for the transport sector. At Bridgestone, we aim to lead the way with advanced products to accelerate EV adoption and development.”With the demand for electrified fleets on the rise, there occur other significant challenges, including the lack of proper EV infrastructure. Bridgestone has been continuously working to derive solutions to these challenges, and its collaboration with Webfleet Solutions is a huge step forward in this direction. Through this alliance, the company aims to assist fleet managers and boost corporate productivity with its data-driven fleet management solution. Furthermore, the company also acquired Arvento Mobile Systems, a digital solutions provider, in order to streamline fleet operations and broaden its product selection beyond tyres.Bridgestone offers a broad range of innovative EV tyres and tyre technologies, designed to deliver higher battery life and address range anxiety with low rolling resistance, minimized tire noise & excellent handling & control to manage the increased weight and torque with a step change towards sustainability. The company partnered with electric vehicle start-up Fisker to introduce an all-electric SUV across various European markets, capitalising on the enormous prospects in the EV sector

SEVEN signs partnership agreement with Al Hilal Saudi Club

Riyadh: Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), has signed a three-year official partnership agreement with the leading football champion, Al Hilal Saudi Club. Starting from the 2023/2024 season, the partnership includes mutual commercial and marketing rights between the two entities that will support both SEVEN’s future guests and Al Hilal FC fans.The partnership aligns with SEVEN’s aspirations to be an enabler of the next generation of Saudi sporting talent through its entertainment destinations. Aspiring sportspeople can learn and hone their skills by participating in numerous sporting activities at SEVEN’s entertainment destinations, including skiing, climbing, surfing, bowling, golfing, indoor sky-diving and e-karting.Abdullah Al Dawood, Chairman, SEVEN, said: “At SEVEN, we are redefining the entertainment landscape of the Kingdom with an unrivalled offering of entertainment which includes education, sports, adventure, events, and more. We are committed in supporting the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 to enhance the quality of life among all residents. Our entertainment attractions, which offer a wide range of experiences and activities, will enable guests, especially sports enthusiasts, to strengthen their skills.He added, “This agreement with Al Hilal, one of Saudi Arabia’s leading football clubs with a long legacy of championing talent, will support SEVEN’s ambition to unlock sporting talent and reach a wider audience across the Kingdom.”Abdullah Aljarbou, CEO of Al Hilal Saudi Club, said he was pleased to have signed this partnership which illustrates how the sports and entertainment sectors are intertwined, in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2023, and also enables both parties to fulfill their goals to enhance the quality of life for the people of Saudi Arabia. Over the past six decades, Al Hilal Saudi Club has won 66 championships and created a legion of loyal fans across the Arab world, Asia and further afield. The club’s greatest achievements include winning the Saudi Founder’s Cup, qualifying three times for the FIFA Club World Cup, and winning a record eight Asian Football Confederation trophies. Most recently, the club earned a silver medal at the 2022 FIFA Club World Cup.SEVEN is developing the Kingdom’s entertainment ecosystem by investing over SAR 50 billion in 21 integrated entertainment destinations in 14 cities across Saudi Arabia. The company seeks to enrich the quality and lifestyle of millions of citizens and residents in the Kingdom by diversifying entertainment options and activities, creating job opportunities and developing local Saudi talent in the entertainment sector. SEVEN is also partnering with leading international entertainment brands to bring the best-in-class experiences to the people of Saudi Arabia.The information, and any attachments contained in this email may contain confidential and/or privileged information and is intended solely for the use of the intended named recipient(s). Any disclosure or dissemination in whatever form, by another other than the intended recipient is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please contact the sender and destroy this message and any attachments. Thank you.

Epson provides insights on fostering innovation for tech enterprises in MENA

Dubai: Technology Innovation has been identified as a vital element of the Middle East’s economic growth, with Gartner[1] estimating the MENA may invest up to USD $175.5 billion in 2023, a two percent increased from 2022.[2] Companies including Epson are betting on innovation as the key to addressing social, economic, and environmental challenges in the region and the wider world.So how can MENA organisations nurture innovation? Epson’s thought leaders have outlined five steps that will enable enterprises to innovate, drive efficiencies, minimise costs, and promote better investment opportunities.“Technology has become central to our development as a species and is likely to remain so. Those who can sustainably harness technological innovation will be the winners of the future. There will always be room for new ideas and solutions, enabled by technology – we are seeing this transformation within the wider MENA region,” said Neil Colquhoun, Vice President – CISMETA, Epson.Five steps to nurturing innovation within your enterpriseThis year, the Ministry of Economy in the UAE announced the launch of six new and diverse initiatives with the UAE Innovation Month 2023. These initiatives are designed to support the national efforts to establish a culture of innovation across all segments of society and motivate them to come up innovations in priority sectors, in line with UAE’s transition to a knowledge-based, competitive economy.[3]Epson’s Neil Colquhoun, Vice President – CISMETA outlined the five moves that MENA organisations can make to nurture innovation. The first step is to have a focus, especially if there is a problem to solve or a brief to meet. This helps work towards a goal and helps knowing in advance the result needed to be achieved. The more companies focus their innovation efforts, the greater the chance that they will come up with a creative solution.Secondly, having healthy competition is a key enabler of innovation, forcing organisations to innovate through differentiation when it comes to their product offerings and business models. Epson differentiates by focussing on inkjet printers over laser. Having recently announced that it will halt the sale and distribution of laser printers by 2026 owing to environmental concerns, the business aims to eventually displace laser altogether.The third step is to invest in knowledge and training. Investment in R&D yields the critical technology from which organisations can develop new products, services, and business models. But for R&D to deliver value, its role must be woven centrally into the organisation’s mission. R&D staff need STEM skills – now and in the future – and these need to be valued. To foster innovation, organisations need to allow employees to explore and learn new skills and understand the cutting-edge developments in science and engineering.[4]The next step is the importance of having a catalyst, a source of inspiration to others, a champion for new ideas, and a force of creative energy. But a catalyst can both be tangible and intangible. Whether it’s a structure, a leader or a plan that sparks people into action, someone or something needs to begin the chain.Lastly, execution is one of the most important steps for innovative ideas to come to life. It is a must to ensure that operations, manufacturing, processes, and organisational structures need to be in place. This includes having the right teams and tools, supported by effective collaboration and decision-making as innovation progresses from idea to selection and then execution.“Innovation rarely happens by chance – there is no shortcut and no substitute for the factors that lead to it. To navigate this complex path requires organisations in the MENA region to follow the recipe, building the right ecosystem and taking a strategic approach to identifying, then backing and supporting the innovations of the future. Those who get it right, will be the ones that reap the rewards,” said Neil Colquhoun, Vice President – CISMETA, Epson.

UAE football fans can stream Manchester City’s treble bid

UAE: Football fans throughout the UAE can now stream the much-anticipated UEFA Champions League final clash between English Premier League champions Manchester City and three-time champions Inter Milan of Serie A, Italy, exclusively on TOD – the MENA region’s leading sports and entertainment platform by beIN MEDIA GROUP.As excitement for the season-ending clash reaches fever pitch, new data released by TOD shows that the platform’s unrivalled access to exclusive football streaming rights is driving user growth in the UAE.Unsurprisingly, Manchester City’s bid for a historic trophy treble is further propelling viewing rates, with the English champions attracting the most UAE viewers for any football match on the TOD platform this season.The most streamed matches on TOD in the UAE this season have all featured the Abu Dhabi-owned club, with UEFA Champions League clashes against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, and the English Premier League title face-off against Arsenal making the top three.On June 10, TOD will live stream the Champions League final action, as Pep Guardiola’s side – fresh from last weekend’s victory in the FA Cup against local rivals Manchester United – face the might of Inter Milan at Istanbul’s Atatürk Olympic Stadium. Fans streaming on Samsung, Hisense, or LG TVs, can witness the star-studded showdown in 4K clarity.“It is a must-watch match. With Man City clinching the FA Cup, and already winning the Premier League, they are on the brink of achieving the glorious ‘treble’, a feat achieved by only one other English team – Manchester United. Fans from the UAE can watch the match on TOD from anywhere on their preferred devices, and thanks to our partnerships with LG, Samsung, and Hisense, subscribers viewing on large screens from these leading manufacturers can follow the action in magnificent 4K,” commented John-Paul McKerlie, VP Marketing & Sales at TOD.Junoh Jung, Head of Home Entertainment Business Unit, LG Electronics Gulf, said: "We are proud to partner with TOD to bring an exceptional streaming experience to football fans in the UAE. As Manchester City pursues their historic trophy treble, the upcoming UEFA Champions League final between Manchester City and Inter Milan is a match that cannot be missed. We are thrilled that football fans can indulge in the spectacular 4K quality of this highly anticipated showdown on their LG TVs with unmatched OLED technology."At only AED 66 a month, TOD can be streamed across the UAE on iOS and Android devices, including most of the leading smart TVs such as Apple, Samsung, Sony, LG, and Hisense.“TOD’s mission is to become synonymous with digital sports streaming in the region. We are excited to bring premium, ad-free sports live-streaming to every smartphone and TV in MENA,” Mckerlie added.Fully customisable, TOD empowers customers with the flexibility to choose content based on their specific interests and needs. The TOD Theatre subscription package features exclusive access to Arabic and Turkish TOD Originals, the latest Hollywood movies, series from Warner Bros, HBO MAX, Miramax, Digiturk and Sony Pictures Television, an archive of kids’ content, as well as 11 entertainment channels featuring countless shows for all ages.TOD’s sports and entertainment pack, titled TOD Total, features live sports and replays from top leagues, competitions, and access to all 20 beIN SPORTS premium sports channels. This pack is all inclusive, allowing viewers access to all TOD Originals, as well as the latest movies, series, and access to 31 of beIN’s world-class live sports and entertainment channels. The pack also offers unique features to sports enthusiasts, such as live stats and interactive timelines.

Riyadh Air debuts striking livery, signaling a new era in travel

Dubai: A new chapter in air travel is taking the skies with the world class, digitally native airline “Riyadh Air”. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner painted aircraft with the modern and striking livery was revealed in Riyadh at King Khaled International Airport on June 12th marking a national celebration of the new carrier. The historical moment and ceremony were attended by highnesses, excellencies and official dignitaries.The aircraft flew on low altitude over several notable landmarks in the Riyadh skyline, including KAFD, Boulevard city and some of the iconic main towers, thrilling residents with a glimpse of their new airline while sharing the pride of seeing the new national carrier in the Kingdom. The aircraft will then make its public debut on June 19th at the 54th Paris Air Show as part of Riyadh Air’s first appearance to global audiences.The new airline will elevate the way the world travels with a new level of guest experience and technology that will pioneer the future of the travel industry. The brand identity of Riyadh Air reflects the modern and forward-thinking theme from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is inspired by the warmth and hospitality of the Kingdom and the vibrant lavender colors that carpet the desert in the spring, the beautiful livery is one of a series which will continue to push boundaries in aviation. It has been designed to incorporate visual references to the Kingdom and the city which include the sweeping curves of Arabic script with the global campaign tagline ‘The Future Takes Flight’.Riyadh Air will build connectivity from the capital city to over 100 destinations around the world due to its convenient location with over 60 per cent of the world’s population within eight hours flying time. The airline aims to be significantly innovative in providing travel services in the sector, while being instrumental in delivering the Kingdom’s National Transport and Logistics Strategy and the National Tourism Strategy by leveraging the Kingdom’s strategic location connecting the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe.Earlier this month, the new airline announced at the 79th IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM), that it had obtained “RX” as the airline designator code. This foreshadows Riyadh Airs’ aims to provide digital, innovative and state-of-the-art technologies for seamless guest experiences.Riyadh Air aims to facilitate 100 million visits to Saudi Arabia by 2030 by welcoming travellers from around the world- tourists, business traffic and major events around the Kingdom. The establishment of Riyadh Air is part of PIF’s strategy to unlock the capabilities of promising sectors that can help drive the diversification of the local economy, adding USD20 billion to non-oil GDP growth, and create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs. The new national airline represents PIF’s latest investment in the sector, along with the recently announced King Salman International Airport masterplan, enabling a more financially resilient aviation ecosystem in Saudi Arabia, supporting the industry’s global competitiveness in line with Vision 2030.

OpenAI CEO's visit sparks speculation on Jordan's AI future

Dubai: It’s no secret that Jordan’s tech startup scene is thriving: despite the fact that Jordanians comprise only three percent of the population of the MENA region, Jordanian companies account for 27 of the region’s top 100 startups. Increasingly, Jordan is stepping into the international spotlight as a major ICT epicenter: already, multinational tech companies like Microsoft, Cisco, and Amazon are finding that the Kingdom is an ideal hub for expanding their operations—and enjoying both regional and global growth as a result.Most recently, Jordan attracted the attention of one of the world’s foremost leaders in the development of artificial intelligence: on Monday, June 6, the CEO of OpenAI—the creators of ChatGPT—Sam Altman paid a strategic visit to the Kingdom as part of his global OpenAI tour. While in Amman, Altman took part in a special event at Al-Hussein Technical University, where he spoke to an audience of more than 500 tech entrepreneurs, innovators, and students. He had the opportunity to engage with the Kingdom’s incredible wealth of tech talents, and the event proved to be deeply engaging and insightful, allowing for a dynamic exchange of ideas on the topic of artificial intelligence.The potential for AI and its role in future innovation cannot be overstated. Altman himself believes that AI will allow entrepreneurs to tap into unrivaled success—that, with the ability to integrate AI into business operations, he believes that “there will be a one-person, one-billion-dollar company soon.” The possibilities for what AI can achieve are continuing to grow and expand—and Jordanian entrepreneurs and startups are already at the forefront of this untapped potential.Take Jordanian-owned startup Replit, for example, which recently made international news when it partnered with Google in order to begin integrating AI language models with Replit’s state-of-the-art software for code writing. The potential for this partnership is enormous: Replit’s Ghostwriter app users will be able to harness the capabilities of Google’s language-generation artificial intelligence in order to receive complex suggestions for blocks of code, create complete programs seamlessly, and even have their development-related questions answered quickly and effectively.And Replit is far from the only Jordanian-owned startup making waves in the world of AI: Amman-based startup Xina AI has created the world’s first Arabic interactive voice assistant and chatbot, using artificial intelligence and natural language processing to deliver intuitive, automated, omnichannel customer service solutions. Xina AI’s technology is capable of working across all regional Arabic dialects—making AI solutions accessible and applicable to an Arabic-speaking audience that encompasses over 400 million people.These innovative startups are not flukes or aberrations: they reflect the Kingdom’s robust entrepreneurial ecosystem, the culture of innovation, and the incredible wealth of highly educated, tech-savvy youth. Each year, more than 8,000 young Jordanians graduate from ICT-related university programs, adding to this rich tapestry of ingenues and innovators. And with a huge number of startup incubators, accelerators, and angel investors across every corner of the Kingdom, people with great ideas have myriad opportunities to receive support, funding, guidance, and exposure.Jordan Source, a program operating under the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship, has been playing a strategic role in helping provide local tech entrepreneurs with a global platform. The program’s partners have joined Jordan Source at major international events like Web Summit (in Lisbon, Portugal), South by Southwest (in Austin, Texas, USA), and on a roadshow across the United States that included stops in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C.And Jordan Source has also been doing its part to provide greater opportunities for young, tech-savvy local talent: the program works tirelessly to attract international companies to expand operations into the Kingdom and hire local talent. The program has even forged partnerships to help provide further training opportunities for these young talents.All of these factors work together to create an ecosystem full of the kindling necessary for the sparks of creativity and ingenuity to flourish—and in the field of artificial intelligence, Jordan could very well be on the precipice of igniting the world.

Dubai Chamber assists tech companies and MNCs in Dubai's digital growth

Dubai: Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, one of the three chambers operating under Dubai Chambers, has announced a new initiative to help tech companies set up and scale up in Dubai. The initiative will provide a comprehensive package of services designed to support tech and digital startups, SMEs, and multinational corporations planning to set up their businesses in Dubai.The initiative was announced during a ceremony held today at Dubai Chambers' headquarters in the presence of His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, and Chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, and Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President and CEO of Dubai Chambers, with the participation of His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Executive Chairman of Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority (DIEZ), and Amna Rashed Lootah, Board Member of DubaiDuring the event, the chamber signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for strategic partnerships with several companies in support of the initiative. Agreements were inked with Dubai CommerCity, Safexpay, e&, and Telr. The chamber is planning to enter into agreements with additional strategic partners ahead of the launch of the platform in September.His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, and Chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, commented: “The initiative reflects the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to improve the ease of doing business and accessing services. The new initiative is another important step towards achieving our goals of attracting 300 digital startups to the emirate by 2024, and will further consolidate Dubai's position as a global capital of the digital economy.”His Excellency continued: “We look forward to supporting the success of more innovative companies and further strengthening Dubai’s dynamic investment environment as we continue on our journey towards doubling the contribution of the digital economy to the UAE's non-oil GDP within 10 years."His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Executive Chairman of Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority (DIEZ), said: “This partnership reaffirms our commitment to boosting innovation across Dubai’s business ecosystem and contributing to its transformation journey in being a global hub for technology. We continue to strive to strengthen our partnerships and network with the Public-Private sectors to advance business and create significant opportunities for companies to expand their operations and grow,” “At Dubai CommerCity, the first and leading free zone dedicated to digital commerce, we are increasing cooperation and efforts to support the government's strategy to advance the UAE’s digital economic growth. Throughout the years, we have been constantly developing business packages, services, and incentives to support companies within the digital and tech sectors. This has allowed us to affectively facilitate business operations and attract innovation and talent from all over the world.” His Excellency added.The new initiative will offer convenient access to a range of services companies need to set up in Dubai, creating a ‘one-stop shop’ for licensing services, banking solutions, office space, cloud services, and other key requirements.The chamber’s strategy (2022 – 2024) is focused on improving the digital business environment, developing support for digital companies, and attracting international digital businesses, with the goal of positioning the emirate as one of the world’s most agile and diversified technology-enabled digital hubs. Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy plays an instrumental role in cementing Dubai’s digital leadership position, as reflected in its recent success in attracting 30 digital startups during the first quarter of 2023.Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy is consistently working to amplify the success of Dubai’s digital ecosystem by hosting international roadshows and events to attract start-ups and global unicorn companies to the emirate. It has also launched several landmark initiatives to serve as a catalyst for digital growth, including hosting events and partnering with the renowned Expand North Star platform to bring hundreds of startups together with investors and other key stakeholders.Building on these achievements, the chamber is preparing to organize the ‘Expand North Star’ summit, the world’s largest event dedicated to startups. The summit will be held in Dubai from 15 - 18 October and is expected to attract more than 1,400 exhibitors and 1,000 investors. Expand North Star will contribute to enhancing the momentum of entrepreneurship by connecting innovators and technology pioneers from across the globe with government partners, investors, and business accelerators.

Sharjah Communication Award recognizes impactful communication

Abu Dhabi: Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, the Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB) has announced the opening of registration for the tenth edition of the Sharjah Government Communication Award (SGCA), calling on those with outstanding achievements in various spheres of government and institutional communication to apply for the relevant categories by August 15, 2023.The prestigious award is introducing several new and specialised categories that recognise excellence in delivering impactful messages, developing effective integrated communication campaigns, and establishing credible institutional reputation. It also targets government communication teams, official spokespersons, and pioneers in crisis management, among other categories.The Sharjah award strives to create a positive influence within the communication ecosystem by honouring innovative efforts across various communication disciplines and supporting the implementation of national and international developmental plans and strategies. Constantly evolving to stay abreast of global advancements in the field of communication and public influence, the SGCA has introduced several new categories this year that reflect the latest trends and developments in the industry.Comprehensive communication ecosystemThe award has introduced new Arab categories that recognise effective methods of public engagement and exemplary communication practices. These categories include the 'Best Integrated Communication Campaign,' which celebrates entities excelling in employing and integrating ideas and strategies while cultivating a culture of public engagement. The 'Best Communication for Reputation Building and Management' category recognises communication methodologies that have made a distinct and significant impact on public perception by establishing and maintaining a credible institutional reputation.Honouring the best teams and individualsIn recognition of the crucial role of teamwork in achieving successful public engagement initiatives, the award has introduced new Arab categories that cover these practices. The 'Best Government Communication Team' award acknowledges government and semi-government institutions and entities for their exceptional leadership in implementing unconventional and remarkable communication campaigns and practices that yield tangible results in accomplishing strategic objectives.The 'Best Spokesperson' award aims to honour distinguished representatives from government entities who excel in portraying a positive image of their institutions both domestically and regionally. These spokespersons exhibit the ability to effectively and credibly deliver their messages, maintain a strong media presence, and effectively utilise modern communication tools and appropriate channels.Successful communication in managing global crisesWithin its global categories, the award encompasses a diverse range of fields that span the entire communication spectrum. Notably, the 'Best Communication Strategy for Crisis Management' category stands out as it seeks to promote the advancement of crisis management approaches. The category recognises and honours government, semi-government, or private institutions around the world besides international organisations that have effectively implemented strategies to address national or global crises with social implications.These strategies focus on timely responses and prioritise mitigating the negative consequences of emergencies and disasters with a commitment to transparency and accuracy. By acknowledging exemplary crisis management efforts, this category encourages the development of effective communication strategies in times of adversity.How to applyThe Sharjah Government Media Bureau (SGMB) invites all entities and individuals to submit their applications for the SGCA award by August 15, 2023. Interested parties are required to complete an online submission on the website, ensuring all necessary information is provided.Selection processThe Sharjah award celebrates innovative ideas that foster collaboration across societies to pave the way for future achievements. To ensure fairness and transparency, the award is judged through a higher jury committee and specialised sub-committees of distinguished experts and academics. The selection process adheres to stringent professional standards, guaranteeing the winners are chosen with utmost integrity. The SGCA not only acknowledges the achievements of those awarded but also rewards them with financial recognition for their exceptional work.The SGCA was launched by the SGMB in September 2012 as a groundbreaking initiative in the region. It serves as a platform to acknowledge and honour exemplary government communication and media practices. The award recognises individuals who have made substantial contributions to the field, with a specific emphasis on societal value and promoting international cooperation.

Saudi media group SRMG partners with NEOM

Riyadh: Saudi-headquartered media group SRMG has signed a MoU with NEOM Media Industries. Under the MoU, 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.” 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-organising events at NEOM, and SRMG exploring establishing an early presence at NEOM in the long run.

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: