Emma Burdett: A catalyst for positive transformation with WILD

Adgully has always saluted and honoured women managers and leaders across diverse fields. W-SUITE is a special initiative from Adgully Middle East that has been turning the spotlight on some of the most remarkable women achievers in the M&E, advertising, marketing, PR and communications industry.Today, our guest is Emma Burdett, the Founder of WILD (Women in Leadership Deliver) network, a keynote speaker, moderator, executive coach and business mentor. Emma is an advocate for gender balance, diversity and inclusion. Adgully Middle East interviewed Emma Burdett to explore her dedication to challenging the status quo and championing change. The WILD movement, with its emphasis on gender equality, demonstrates Emma's advocacy for a more inclusive and balanced society. By addressing gender disparities and promoting equality, WILD aims to create a more just and equitable world for everyone. Emma's passion for change and her involvement in the WILD movement make her a trailblazer in the pursuit of a more equitable and empowered world. Let’s find out more...Kindly share your career and entrepreneurial journey so far?I moved to Dubai in January 2014, and have had a long career in the corporate sector. In 2016, I was headhunted into a corporate director role. The company asked me if I would like to start a women’s network as a CSR initiative. What started as four women and a sheet of paper, grew to 15 women, and I witnessed the power of women coming together. We were sharing knowledge and expertise, offering each other guidance and support, and ultimately, doing business together. Unfortunately, I encountered significant workplace challenges and lost my job. During this time, I rebuilt myself, took time out, and embarked on a spiritual journey. I wrote the concept of WILD from scratch after a mental breakdown. I knew I could create a women’s network as a business. WILD was nothing at the time. Just a lot of faith and a big dream. I launched WILD in July 2018, primarily doing events and building community.What inspired you to launch ‘WILD’ (Women in Leadership Deliver)? What do you aspire to achieve from it?Since its launch in 2018, WILD has become the fastest-growing women’s network in the Middle East. Throughout its six years, I have become a coach, and IINSEAD qualified in gender equality studies. Women’s networks are the key to gender equality. I saw a niche in the market for this platform for corporate women. WILD now offers a myriad of solutions for female leadership and for the women within the community, from consultancy to leadership training to memberships, coaching, and masterminds. In November 2022 we launched in Saudi Arabia as the first and only women’s network from outside the kingdom. This allows our members to connect across borders. The bold move has earned WILD a contract with the United Nations Global Compact Network, KSA to support the Kingdom with SDG5 gender equality. WILD is a movement I am proud to pioneer.What are your views on the development of women in the Middle Eastern countries? What are your hopes for the future?I feel the future is bright as the world wakes up to gender equality and the benefits it offers. While there is a long way to go, companies are beginning to strategize and invest in female talent. I have been mightily impressed by the talent and ambition I have seen in KSA. KSA Comprises of over 65% of Generation Z. This generation is radical, ethical, and rebellious, and desires to see diversity and inclusion. It is also important to mention that KSA is seeing the highest percentage of young females graduating in STEM more than anywhere else in the world. I hope we will see change when this generation moves up to leadership level.With the success of WILD this year, what are your hopes and aspirations in the coming years from it? What were the main takeaways for women in the WILD event?We plan to scale WILD across nine countries over the next few years. Countries such as Qatar, Jordan, and Oman; places that need and would benefit from having a platform such as WILD.I am always blown away by WILD events. I may be biased but they are amazing- Authentic, inspiring, and motivating. Every event is different. We are about the solution at WILD, not continually discussing the ‘problem’. One of the main reasons I created WILD was because I was so bored and fed up with all of the current events held in Dubai. Sterile, contrived, and filtered conversations. No one says what they want or how they feel. One of the key pillars of WILD is authenticity. We embody this in all of our events.Regarding takeaways, we always see a genuine sense of solidarity and empathy building when women feel seen, heard, and understood. My intention is that every woman who comes to a WILD event leaves inspired and ready to take on the world. We live in a patriarchal society with many outdated workplace cultures and structures that don't support women in the workplace, however, we also need to take ownership and accountability for our own lives and careers. I always suggest women invest in their own growth and development, especially hiring a coach or mentor. I have worked with 4 coaches and it has been life-changing and a key catalyst for me building WILD with the success and level we are at.You have been awarded as one of the 10 ‘Women of Substance’ in Dubai? Whom do you owe your success to? Who has been your inspiration?I owe my success to myself! For staying tenacious and committed, even when times get tough. Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster and an arduous journey full of highs and lows. It is important to surround yourself with the right people, who hold space for you and whom you can trust implicitly. I am grateful to have those people in my life. I am inspired by all of the women in WILD, who show up, who commit and who want to further themselves and their careers. I am inspired by some of my private clients whom I mentor, they step up with courage and build the life of their dreams, it's beautiful to see!What will be your advice to women who aspire to be leaders?Anything is possible when we work on ourselves and move past fear, limitations, and doubt. We need to get out of our own way and give ourselves permission to be bold, doing things we haven't done before. Fear can be debilitating and will only cling to stagnant people. Trust yourself and your own intuition, the gut never lies. Lastly, always work on YOU like a full-time job, no one will save you!

GoDaddy’s Selina Bieber: Unleashing the power of AI in Saudi Arabia

In this exclusive interview with Adgully Middle East, Selina Bieber, Regional Director for MENA at GoDaddy, discusses the game-changing implications of the .AI domain extension for individuals, startups, and research institutions in Saudi Arabia. She sheds light on GoDaddy's commitment to supporting the ambitious goals of the Saudi Data & AI Authority (SDAIA) and outlines the role of .AI domains in projecting innovation and benefiting small businesses across sectors. Bieber also delves into the accessibility of GoDaddy’s user-friendly tools, the contribution of dedicated domain brokers, and the strategic positioning of .AI domains in shaping the future of AI-driven businesses in the Kingdom.Can you elaborate on the specific opportunities that the introduction of the .AI domain extension brings for individuals, developers, startups, and research institutions in Saudi Arabia, aligning with the country’s AI strategy? Do you have similar plans in the region?The introduction of the .AI domain extension presents significant opportunities for individuals, developers, startups, and research institutions in Saudi Arabia. This extension allows them to establish a unique online presence and align their digital identities with the evolving landscape of AI. It provides a platform for showcasing innovations, fostering collaboration, and contributing to the growth of the AI community. GoDaddy remains committed to offering support for entrepreneurs and businesses in the region, aligning with the broader goals of the AI landscape.Given the ambitious goals of the Saudi Data & AI Authority (SDAIA) and the overall AI agenda for the Kingdom, how does GoDaddy envision supporting the dimensions of ambition, skills, policies, investment, research, and innovation in the Saudi Arabian AI landscape through the .AI domain extension?At GoDaddy, we understand the evolving landscape of AI in Saudi Arabia. We are dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs through our .AI extension. Our focus is on providing a platform that empowers individuals and businesses to contribute to the advancement of AI initiatives. We are committed to providing the tools to foster an environment conducive to AI development in Saudi Arabia.In what ways does the .AI domain extension contribute to projecting innovation to customers and benefiting small businesses across sectors? Can you provide specific examples of how businesses have leveraged this extension to embrace AI’s potential?The .AI domain extension serves as a powerful tool for projecting innovation to customers and benefiting small businesses across sectors. By adopting a .AI domain, businesses can convey a cutting-edge image synonymous with the use of artificial intelligence and innovation. This not only can help to enhance their brand perception but also can attract a tech-savvy audience.GoDaddy’s user-friendly tools are designed to help entrepreneurs choose the right domain. How does the company ensure that these tools are accessible and beneficial for users with varying levels of technical expertise, especially in the context of adopting AI-driven technologies?GoDaddy prioritizes accessibility and ease of use for entrepreneurs with varying levels of technical expertise. We understand the time constraints and challenges faced by small businesses, prompting us to integrate AI automation into our services for a streamlined experience. The goal is to empower entrepreneurs to leverage AI-driven technologies without the need for deep technical knowledge.Can you share insights into the role of the dedicated domain brokers at GoDaddy and how they contribute to assisting businesses when a desired .AI domain is already owned? How does this process align with GoDaddy’s commitment to supporting Saudi Arabia’s AI community?GoDaddy’s domain brokers can play a crucial role in navigating the market for .AI domains, especially when the desired names are already taken. They assist businesses in negotiating acquisitions, providing expertise in valuation and transfer processes. This service is particularly beneficial considering the competitive nature of AI-related domains. Our domain brokerage service aligns with our commitment to empowering the Saudi Arabian AI community by ensuring that entrepreneurs and innovators have access to the digital assets that best reflect their innovation and expertise.With AI projected to contribute significantly to Saudi Arabia’s economy, how does GoDaddy see the .AI domain extension playing a role in shaping AI-driven businesses in the country? Are there specific industries or sectors where you anticipate a particularly strong impact?We consider the recent introduction of the .AI domain extension will be an important part in influencing AI-driven businesses in Saudi Arabia.. The extension offers a unique online identity for companies immersed in AI technologies, that could be particularly helpful in sectors like technology, innovation, research, finance, and manufacturing. In the context of Saudi Arabia's AI strategy, use of the .AI domain signals expertise and positions businesses at the forefront of AI advancements, contributing to their credibility and visibility in these evolving industries. For example, in the healthcare sector, AI-driven startups could utilize the .AI extension with their domain name to emphasize their focus on AI-powered medical solutions.This extension not only enhances the digital presence of these businesses but also directly communicates their commitment to leveraging AI for sector-specific innovations in the region.The .AI domain extension is positioned as a symbol of technological expertise and innovation. How does GoDaddy plan to convey this message to potential users, and what strategies are in place to create awareness and understanding of the significance of .AI domains in the context of Saudi Arabia’s AI journey?GoDaddy’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia is reflected in its continual efforts to assist the success of entrepreneurs and small business owners. This is achieved through the provision of a comprehensive suite of online products and services, addressing the unique needs of businesses in the region. Through these sustained initiatives, GoDaddy aims to contribute consistently to the growth and development of the entrepreneurial and .AI domain ecosystem in Saudi Arabia.Given the anticipation of the impact of generative AI by 85 percent of business leaders in the next three years, how does GoDaddy plan to stay at the forefront of providing solutions that cater to the evolving needs of businesses in Saudi Arabia? Are there specific initiatives or partnerships in place to support entrepreneurs and innovators in the dynamic AI landscape?At GoDaddy, we are actively monitoring advancements in generative AI and remain committed to staying at the forefront of providing cutting-edge solutions for businesses in Saudi Arabia. We are dedicated to supporting the dynamic landscape of AI and fostering growth opportunities for businesses in the region.

Plus500 secures regulatory licence & strengthens its strategic expansion in UAE

The global multi-asset fintech group, Plus500 which has over 25 million registered customers worldwide, has obtained a new regulatory license approval from the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) through its subsidiary Plus500AE in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).This license from the DFSA presents Plus500AE, whose parent company Plus500 Ltd is a FTSE 250 company listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange (LSE), with significant growth opportunities in the burgeoning and dynamic UAE market. Approval of the new regulatory licence enables the company to provide a more localised experience to prospective customers in the UAE's online trading sphere through Plus500AE, complementing the group’s renowned user-friendly diverse offerings, innovation, and customer-centric approach.Additional customer benefits include the integration of local payment methods, and bespoke versions of the Plus500 trading platform, website, and mobile app, enabling access to the most popular financial instruments. The proprietary tech-based trading platform will enable UAE traders to engage in Over the Counter (OTC) or Contracts for Difference (CFD) products.Additionally, the platform's advanced analytics empower traders with real-time data, robust charting tools, and technical indicators, aiding informed trading decisions. It also ensures mobile accessibility on both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.The establishment of the UAE subsidiary fortifies Plus500 group’s regulatory framework and complements the portfolio of regulatory licenses in markets such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Cyprus, Singapore, the United States, and Japan.According to the latest trends released by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), the Middle East’s online trading industry is witnessing spectacular growth and is expected to reach US$1 trillion in value by 2025 with commonly traded assets including stocks, commodities, currencies, and cryptocurrencies.The intuitive and advanced trading platform allows customers to manage leveraged exposure appropriately with the aim of protecting potential profits and limiting exposure to losses.

Samsung launches Galaxy Experience Spaces to welcome new era of Galaxy AI

Samsung Electronics has announced it is opening nine Galaxy Experience Spaces around the world to showcase how galaxy AI enables new ways to connect, create and play. The spaces — opening after Galaxy Unpacked — will immerse fans in Samsung’s latest innovations in cities including Bangkok, Barcelona, Berlin, Dubai, London, New York, Paris and Seoul.“Galaxy empowers people with new experiences and new ways to do what they love. With Galaxy AI, we’re redefining what’s possible on mobile devices,” said Stephanie Choi, EVP & Head of Mobile eXperience Business at Samsung Electronics. “These spaces will give Galaxy fans the first opportunity to see a new era of innovation firsthand, and we can’t wait to see how Galaxy AI will empower people to unleash their potential.”Immediately upon entering these vibrant, contemporary spaces, visitors will know they’ve stepped into the future. Yet, everything visitors will experience will be available to them very soon on Galaxy’s newest devices. As visitors move between interactive and immersive zones, they’ll see how Galaxy AI amplifies everyday activities in ways never seen before, from discovering new places to capturing and sharing content to communicating across language barriers.In every region, visitors will experience different twists on what Galaxy has to offer. Fan-favorites like Nightography and Galaxy gaming will captivate visitors, inspiring new ways to be creative and play with cutting-edge technology. In some regions, visitors will even be able to participate in special activities like daily gaming tournaments where gamers will compete against one another in some of the most popular mobile games. As visitors explore and test out all the features, they’ll receive stamps that can be redeemed for exclusive giveaways before they leave. Plus, a lucky draw will give visitors the chance to walk away with a special prize.

Anghami and Almarai join forces for fresh milk campaign

Audio streaming platform Anghami Inc has partnered with dairy company Almarai to launch an innovative, technology-driven segment as part of Almarai's latest fresh milk campaign, titled "Milk every day, is the smart way.This collaborative effort seamlessly integrate education and entertainment to promote innovative awareness about food and health.The campaign aims to underscore the significance of consuming fresh milk by seamlessly combining education and entertainment. The collaboration with Anghami propels this campaign forward, enhancing engagement through personalized experiences, gamification, and storytelling.Leveraging Anghami's AI features, along with the beloved and nostalgic voice of Rasha Rizk, a prominent figure in Saudi Arabia, parents can effortlessly create a personalized song for their children. This unique approach not only entertains but also promotes the healthy daily habit of drinking fresh milk.To participate, parents simply need to add their child's name, choose the song's topic, and they are ready to go. Additionally, participants can share these distinctive songs on various social media platforms.This initiative goes beyond creating unique experiences; it raises public awareness and empowers parents to educate their children. Furthermore, it reaffirms the shared commitment of both Almarai and Anghami to support the realization of one of the key pillars of Vision 2030 in the Kingdom – the health and well-being of Saudi society.

Emirates readies to recruit 5,000 cabin crew from six continents in 2024

Emirates is celebrating the new year and the imminent arrival of its spanking new fleet of Airbus A350s with a global cabin crew recruitment drive with a difference. The 5,000 new joiners will ensure the airline’s commitment to offering the world’s best inflight experience maintains a steady course.The recruitment drive is designed primarily for those who will soon or have recently stepped into the world of work. The airline is inviting fresh graduates with internships or part-time jobs on their résumés, those with a year or so of hospitality or customer service experience, and individuals keen to embark on an exciting career travelling the globe. The new recruits will be a part of the world’s largest international airline and one of the most iconic brands, plus they will learn hospitality and life skills from the best trainers in the business.What’s more, they will travel the world across more than 140 cities in 76 countries and enjoy the entire gamut of benefits working as Emirates’ cabin crew. Recruitment driveIn 2024, Emirates’ recruitment team will host open days and assessments in more than 460 cities across six continents, reflecting the span of the airline's network and the diversity of its cabin crew team, while flying the flag for living and working in dynamic Dubai.In 2023, Emirates hired a staggering 8,000 cabin crew and held recruitment events in 353 cities as the airline ramped up its services post the pandemic. In August 2023, the airline’s cabin crew numbers crossed the 20,000 milestone and are now 21,500 strong. Fleet and network expansionThe new cabin crew recruitment drive comes as Emirates begins to take delivery of its eagerly anticipated A350s from mid-year and the Boeing 777-Xs starting in 2025. The airline has 65 A350s and a mix of 205 777-9s and 777-8s in its order book. The new aircraft will expand the airline’s reach and provide flexibility to add new routes to its network.Training and life skillsAll new cabin crew recruits undergo an intense eight weeks of training in delivering the highest standards of hospitality, safety and service that Emirates’ customers have come to expect over the years. Trained in Emirates' state-of-the-art facility in Dubai, cabin crew learn invaluable transferable skills that include a knack for communications, initiative and leadership qualities. They develop the ability to work effectively in a multicultural team, the focus to stay mentally strong and calm under pressure, becoming bastions of hospitality and exceptional service, and ambassadors of an iconic brand. Cabin crew also have access to the latest training programmes and LinkedIn courses.What new joiners sayAne Monego Castagna from Italy, who joined May 2023 said: “Sometimes you’ve got to chase your dreams, other times the dream chases you. In April last year, I received the ‘golden call’ that changed my life. During training, I was amazed by the knowledge and skills imparted to us and what it took to become an Emirates cabin crew. The opportunity to make friends for life, be super confident and to fly with the airline is priceless. Thanks to Emirates, the life I live today is better than anything I have ever dreamed of!”Robyn Clark from the UK, who joined in February 2023 said: “Working for Emirates is a job like no other. From the day I got the call to boarding every flight, I feel so proud of what I’ve accomplished. Putting on the iconic Emirates uniform every morning is a feeling I can’t explain – this really is a dream come true. I will always be grateful to Emirates for the memories I’ve made, the amazing experiences I’ve had travelling the world, and being able to come back from my journeys to Dubai – one of the safest and most vibrant cities globally – that I now call home.”Cabin crew communityEmirates’ multicultural cabin crew team hail from more than 140 nationalities and speak a staggering 130 languages – which is why customers can always expect to converse with a warm, friendly voice in their own lingo. Crew form lifelong friendships and close-knit bonds within the community, fostering better teamwork, a common sense of purpose and a shared service philosophy.Cabin crew experience excellent career progression, including upgrading to higher cabin classes, and becoming a cabin supervisor, purser or trainer. Today, the airline has 1,180 pursers who have climbed the career ladder after successfully completing exacting training and assessments. Crew also have the opportunity to apply for internal vacancies throughout the Emirates Group.The cabin crew lifeEmirates’ cabin crew lead a cosmopolitan lifestyle in vibrant Dubai, living with 200 nationalities in a city renowned for its hotels, restaurants, food scene, leisure activities and for being one of the safest in the world.Emirates’ cabin crew enjoy a competitive, tax-free salary and flying pay, eligibility for profit share, hotel stays and layover expenses, concessional travel and cargo, annual leave, annual leave ticket, furnished accommodation, transportation to and from work, excellent medical, life and dental insurance coverage, laundry services and other benefits. Friends and family enjoy deeply discounted flight tickets, and travelling with their loved ones creates lasting memories for crew.

Nissan Saudi Arabia launch the Nissan Rewards Program

 In a bold move towards reshaping the landscape of automotive customer service, Nissan Saudi Arabia is thrilled to announce the much-anticipated Rewards program, set to revolutionize the way customers engage with the brand. This program is set underscores Nissan’s steadfast commitment to “Defy ordinary.” This innovative program a result of a strategic collaboration between Nissan Saudi Arabia and The Entertainer, a partnership publicly revealed at the Seamless event in Riyadh. With aims to redefine the ownership experience of Nissan vehicles in Saudi Arabia by leveraging the power of a dedicated mobile application.The program is designed to elevate customer loyalty, enhance after-sales services, and deliver an array of exclusive discounts across a spectrum of categories such as Food &Drink, Beauty & Fitness, Attractions & Leisure, Retail & Services, Hotels Worldwide.The rewards program also has different offers and discounts that includes "2 for 1," "Fixed price off," "Package price," and "Percentage off." This dynamic range of offerings caters to the diverse.The rewards program offered by Nissan is available to all New Nissan owners by default, and they can access the program's benefits through the Nissan App. However, owners of the Patrol and or the new X-Trail who bought their vehicles during the fourth quarter of 2022 can join the program one year after their purchase.Customer engagement and loyalty are further bolstered by the opportunity for customers to advance through tiers by accumulating points. These points are earned through aftersales purchases and interactions with Nissan, with each tier offering specific benefits and merchants. The system also encourages tier advancement through after-sales services.Adib Takieddine Managing Director of Nissan Saudi Arabia said: “We believe in putting customers at the center of everything we do” and by launching the rewards program it showcases Nissan keenness into fulfilling the needs of its customers and creates an essence of loyalty between the two parties.”The Nissan Rewards Program opens a world of possibilities for customers to enhance their Nissan ownership experience, promoting loyalty and engagement while enabling them to derive added value from every facet of their lives. It signifies Nissan's unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction, excellence, and delivering beyond ordinary customer service.

Du teams with Intelsat to enhance cellular connectivity in remote areas in UAE

du, from Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), has partnered with Intelsat, operator of one of the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial networks, to expand cellular connectivity across the UAE. This collaboration marks an exciting step towards enhancing cellular services nationwide, even in areas that were previously out of reach.Saleem AlBlooshi, Chief Technology Officer at du, said: "The pivotal role of digital connectivity in shaping the socio-economic landscape of the UAE is irrefutable. As a leading national telecom operator, we relentlessly pursue exceptional customer experiences, delivering tangible value to our stakeholders by leveraging the latest telecom technologies and fostering a culture deeply imbued with innovation throughout our operational framework. The introduction of advanced networking infrastructure and services will act as a catalyst, propelling our community into the digital transformation era.“du's cellular backhaul solution stands at the forefront of innovation, significantly enhancing the capabilities of mobile coverage in remote areas. Through our partnership with Intelsat, we can leverage the full capacity of IS-39 satellite, providing coverage to even the most remote areas of the nation. With this advanced technology, end users can enjoy a superior, uninterrupted connection experience, regardless of their location. This unparalleled level of quality and reliability sets a new industry standard for cellular networks," added AlBlooshi.Rhys Morgan, Vice President and General Manager of Intelsat, said: “The UAE continues to bolster its telecom and infrastructure capabilities. As global leader in satellite connectivity, Intelsat is well-positioned to support the UAE’s connectivity plans, supporting du in the provision of reliable connectivity. We look forward to working with du to expand its reach into these important areas, providing reliable access to an increasing number of end customers.”This collaboration demonstrates du's commitment to delivering exceptional customer experiences and driving the digital transformation of the UAE. With this advanced networking infrastructure, end users will benefit from a superior connection experience regardless of their location. The partnership sets a new industry standard for cellular networks, paving the way for enhanced connectivity nationwide.

Snap Inc MENA elevates Rasha El-Ghoussaini to its Head of Agency

Snap Inc. in MENA has announced the appointment of Rasha El-Ghoussaini as the new Head of Agency.Rasha has had a remarkable career at Snap Inc., spanning over 18 years with a significant impact on the company's growth and strategy. Having served as the Head of Industry, she has gained valuable experience working across various verticals. Her tenure since May 2017 highlights her commitment and contributions to shaping Snap Inc.'s strategy in the region.With her recent appointment as the Head of Agency in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, Rasha is set to leverage her extensive experience to formulate, build, and execute strategic partnerships within the Agency ecosystem. Her responsibilities will likely include cultivating relationships across the Agency landscape, engaging with leadership figures, and enhancing capabilities across the networks."As a long-standing member of the UAE leadership team, I've had the privilege of working closely with Rasha El-Ghoussaini over the past 6 years and I am excited to see her take on this pivotal role as Head of Agency. Her wealth of experience and proven success in driving business growth and fostering strategic partnerships makes her the perfect person to take our Agency business to the next level." said Jake Thomas, Head of UAE at Snap Inc. in MENA.Rasha El-Ghoussaini expressed her enthusiasm for the new role, stating: "I am honored and excited to take on the position of Head of Agency at a time when the agency landscape in the MENA region is experiencing remarkable growth and transformation. I look forward to leveraging my experience and passion for building strategic partnerships to drive continued innovation and growth across the agency ecosystem.”

Axis Communications to showcase new products at Intersec Dubai 2024

Axis Communications, the industry leader in video surveillance, today announced new products at Intersec Dubai, including a world-first for network camera technology.The new products include:The world’s first thermometric explosion-protected camera specifically designed and certified for use in Zone and Division 2 hazardous locations (AXIS Q1961-XTE).The first network horn speaker from Axis certified for Zone and Division 1 hazardous locations (AXIS XC1311).A high-frequency radar that can accurately detect, classify and track humans and vehicles in various light and weather conditions (AXIS D2210-VE).Taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from 16 to 18 January 2024, the 25th edition of Intersec Dubai celebrates a quarter century of uniting security technology and serving as a calendar highpoint for the security industry.The annual event brings more than 45,000 stakeholders from around the world together to explore the latest trends, promote trade and commerce across international borders, showcase the latest innovations and products, and confront the world’s most pressing security challenges.“The security industry and the needs of our customers are in constant flux. Axis is constantly refining our product and service offering to meet those needs and to that, we are always innovating and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with network monitoring and security products. We are very excited to introduce the world to our latest products and demonstrate what we can to do enhance organisations’ security, and help build a smarter, safer, and more sustainable world for all,” said Ettiene van der Watt, Regional Director for Middle East and Africa at Axis at Axis.AXIS Q1961-XTE – a world-first in thermometric monitoringAXIS Q1961-XTE is the world’s first explosion-protected thermal camera specifically designed and certified for use in Zone and Division 2 hazardous areas (the majority of a hazardous area site that contain potentially combustible substances).Capable of remotely monitoring temperatures from -40°C to 350°C (-40°F to 660°F), this cost-efficient camera can monitor temperature-based events and send notifications to operators based on temperature readings and fluctuations, effectively minimising potential production downtime and enabling predictive maintenance planning.AXIS Q1961-XTE will be available through Axis distribution channels in March 2024.AXIS XC1311 – Axis first network horn speaker for hazardous areasAn all-in-one audio device that supports situational awareness and enables real-time responses, AXIS XC1311 is the company’s first-ever network horn speaker designed and certified for Zone and Division 1 hazardous areas (areas that contain potentially combustible substances). It is capable of withstanding temperatures between -40°C and 60°C (-40°F and 140°F).The speaker is easy to install, configure, and use and is capable of delivering clear, long-range audio and voice messages. The speaker can be configured to play a pre-recorded message when an analytics-equipped camera detects smoke, fire or missing personal protective equipment, or, in the event of an alert from an industrial control system, operators can target live instructions to the targeted area.AXIS XC1311 will be available through Axis distribution channels in March 2024.AXIS D2210-VE – the optimal solution for 24/7 area and traffic monitoringBoasting a compact design and offering a 95° field of detection, AXIS D2210-VE Radar is a robust and powerful device for accurate object detection in all light and various weather conditions.The 60 GHz radar can detect humans at up to 60 meters (200 feet) and vehicles at up to 90 meters (295 feet), or up to 150 meters (492 feet) with road monitoring profile enabled. Switching from area to road monitoring also makes it possible to detect objects travelling as fast as up to 200 km/h (125 mph). The radar is also equipped with a dynamic LED light strip that can be used for notification or warning purposes or can be switched off for more discrete monitoring.AXIS D2210-VE will be available through Axis distribution channels in Q1 2024.

Wassim Mneimneh joins MiQ as MD for MENAT

Wassim Mneimneh has been named the new Managing Director for the MENAT region at MiQ, a prominent figure in programmatic media. With an extensive background spanning more than 17 years in the digital media landscape, Mneimneh has amassed valuable experience working with notable companies such as DoubleVerify, TikTok, Connect Ads, and Nielsen.Commencing his career as a media planner at MCN group, Mneimneh has played pivotal roles in the success stories of major corporations like TikTok, DoubleVerify, and Nielsen. Notably, he contributed significantly to establishing DoubleVerify as the preeminent measurement provider in the region.In his capacity at MiQ, Mneimneh's primary focus will be on expanding the market presence, establishing a robust footprint in MENAT, and cultivating strong relationships with brands and agencies throughout the region.Expressing his enthusiasm about the new role, Mneimneh stated, “I am thrilled to embark on this journey with MiQ as their MD for the region. My goal is to not only grow the business but to establish a solid and impactful presence for MiQ, covering the diverse and dynamic markets of the region. Together, we will navigate new horizons and deliver innovative solutions to our clients.”MiQ is dedicated to the growth and development of its business unit in MENAT, providing programmatic tools and products to serve the region's needs.Lee Puri, Global Chief Growth Officer and Co-founder of MiQ, expressed excitement about Wassim joining as Managing Director of MENAT, emphasizing that Wassim's appointment underscores MiQ's ongoing commitment to shaping the company as the leading programmatic media partner in MENAT. Mneimneh officially assumed his role this year, with immediate plans focused on initiating market presence initiatives, forming strategic alliances, and aligning MiQ with the unique requirements of the MENAT region.

Jumeirah Gulf of Bahrain Resort & Spa appoints new General Manager

Jumeirah Gulf of Bahrain Resort & Spa proudly announces the appointment of Thibault de Vries as its new General Manager. Mr. De Vries brings with him two decades of experience in hotel operations spanning multiple countries, including the Netherlands, Singapore, France, South Africa, Russia, and Qatar.Mr. De Vries’s Middle East hospitality experience includes a successful tenure as General Manager of Andaz, Doha, under the Hyatt brand. He has consistently delivered outstanding financial results and elevated guest satisfaction levels, with a career that showcases his leadership in steering the growth and success of renowned global hotel brands such as Grand Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, and Andaz.Addressing his appointment, Mr. De Vries said, "I am honored to join Jumeirah Gulf of Bahrain Resort & Spa and look forward to elevating guest experiences and driving the property's continued success. With its pristine 500m beach, five swimming pools, cinema, and outstanding F&B outlets, this is a wonderful destination, and I am committed to contributing to its mission of redefining luxury hospitality. I am guided by a famous quote by Leonardo da Vinci: ‘Details make perfection, and perfection is not a detail!’”He added, “This endeavour aligns with Bahrain's aspirations for economic diversification and growth in the tourism sector. By raising the bar in service standards and curating distinctive guest offerings, we anticipate a ripple effect that will help stimulate the local economy, including amplified employment opportunities and business activities within the hospitality ecosystem. Our mission resonates with Bahrain's vision, contributing to the Economic Vision 2030 and reinforcing the Kingdom's position as a coveted luxury travel destination."An alumnus of Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, Switzerland, Mr. De Vries holds a bachelor’s degree in international hospitality management, complemented by several leadership development programs.This strategic move reflects Jumeirah's commitment to excellence and delivering an unparalleled guest experience. Its Mission 2030 is focused on optimizing operations and reinforcing its position as a leader in the luxury hospitality sector.

Panda Retail Company selects Revionics’ AI-powered price optimization platform

 Revionics, an Aptos Company and provider of retail pricing, promotion, markdown and advanced analytics solutions, announced today that Panda Retail Company has selected its intelligent pricing platform to adopt a more data-driven and customer-centric approach to its pricing decisions. The retailer will leverage Revionics’ base price solution to optimize prices at nearly 200 hypermarkets and supermarkets.Based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Panda is the region’s leading grocery store chain, serving more than 100 million customers annually. Panda was acquired by Savola Group in 1998 and since that time has grown its market share in the food retail sector. One key aspect of its success has been its investment in modern technology systems that enhance customer satisfaction and profitability. In line with this commitment, Panda saw an opportunity to leverage the latest advancements in data science to bring greater levels of automation, market responsiveness and speed to its pricing decisions.Following a comprehensive evaluation of price optimization vendors, Panda selected Revionics with the belief that its software can unlock pricing decisions that improve price perception and achieve stronger financial results — even as consumer demand, local conditions and other factors continue to shift.“Throughout our company’s history, we have listened carefully to our customers’ needs and preferences and adapted accordingly,” said Ahmad Chehade, Chief Marketing Officer at Panda Retail Company. “In regards to our investments in Revionics' technology, at Panda, we're all about putting the customer first. As the leaders in our industry, it's our job to keep looking ahead. We know that customer preferences change as the world economy shifts, and that's why we're committed to tailoring our offerings to each individual and, above all, making sure we provide real value.”Trusted by retailers around the world, Revionics’ AI models accurately forecast demand changes and recommend optimal prices specific to each client’s unique goals and its customers’ behaviors and buying patterns. Prices can be optimized at every level — product, key value item groups, zones, categories, etc. — and robust reporting is provided along with deep insights into the impact and value generated by price changes.“Panda’s selection of Revionics reflects our ability to deliver a powerful solution, unmatched pricing expertise and industry-leading science to help our clients get maximum value and competitive advantage from their pricing function,” said Scott Zucker, General Manager at Revionics, an Aptos Company.“With new pricing innovations, Panda takes another step forward in its mission to grow share and deliver even more value to the communities it operates in,” Zucker added. “We are proud to partner with this remarkable and visionary retail group.”

Thmanyah transforms into a media-tech powerhouse

Thmanyah, the Middle East and North Africa’s pioneering Arabic podcast network and independent journalism platform, marks 2024 with the launch of a whole new technology-powered business, charting a course to revolutionize the landscape of online content creation.Thmanyah’s award-winning platform is driven by a team of seasoned content creators with extensive experience producing widely acclaimed podcast shows like Funjan, Socrates, and Swalif Business, newsletters, and documentaries reaching hundreds of millions of viewers and listeners weekly.Thmanyah is building an ecosystem that enables creators to produce high-quality content that enriches the Arabic content on the internet. “Radio Thmanyah” is a mobile application that allows creators to host their podcast show, promote it to highly engaged podcast listeners, and access monetization opportunities. The application revisits the entire experience of podcast listening and sharing by introducing profiles and social interactions, while still allowing users to easily import their podcast libraries from existing platforms or search the catalog of their favorite international and regional podcasts.Thmanyah's ecosystem allows creators to enroll in the Thmanyah Ad Network, a platform designed to help creators monetize their content effectively. By bridging the gap between creators and advertisers, Thmanyah is dedicated to fostering a thriving community of content producers who can generate income from their passion.Thmanyah (which translates to "eight" in Arabic) was founded in 2016, and 51% of its shares were acquired by the Saudi Research and Media Group (SRMG) in 2021. The company also relaunched as a destination for content creators to share their newsletters and articles.Abdulrahman Abu Malih, the visionary founder and CEO of Thmanyah, expressed his enthusiasm for the company's transformative journey, stating, "Over the past very few years we have created a library of premium Arabic content that has no rival online, and we want that growth to prosper together with content creators across the Arab world. Today, we are not just talking about our own transformation, but we are building tools that can fulfill this vision from our experiences and learnings across hosting, marketing and monetization, so content creators can focus on elevating the quality of their production and sustain it.”

Flat6Labs report shows marked rise in international start-up interest

 International start-ups are increasingly vying for an opportunity to establish their global hubs in the UAE in the hopes of accelerating their growth. This is one of the key findings released today by Flat6Labs, the MENA region's leading seed and early-stage venture capital firm, based on the company’s analysis of over 4,000 applications to five cycles of its Ignite seed funding and incubator program, between June 2021 and October 2023. During this nearly two-and-a-half-year period, the number of applications from start-ups based outside the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region grew by an impressive 284%, validating the success of the initiatives made by the UAE’s leadership to attract the world’s most innovative business leaders to the country.Flat6Labs also reported a consistent increase in the number of applications from UAE-based start-ups over the five cycles of the program, reflecting a 2x increase over the recorded window. While the Ignite program is open to start-ups from around the world, it was interesting to see that in every cycle, the number of applications from start-ups in Egypt was second only to that for the UAE.“The steady and considerable increase in the number of applications to our program over each six-month cycle indicates just how rapidly the UAE is advancing its position as a global hub for tech entrepreneurship. The nation’s highly active VC and investor community, favourable legislation, rich talent pool, high standards of living, and coveted position as the gateway to the thriving MEA region, and indeed the world, make it ideal for disruptive businesses to establish their global headquarters,” said Ryaan Sharif, General Manager at Flat6Labs UAE.Also significant was the increase in the number of applications by female-founded start-ups, which grew 244% over the last two and a half years. Impressively, female founded companies accounted for a whole 32% of all applications made to the Ignite program. Such maturing of the start-up ecosystem is also evidenced in the fact that while two and a half years ago, the number of applications was evenly split between organisations in the ideation, launch, minimum viable product (MVP) and revenue generating stages, today, the proportion is heavily skewed towards start-ups that have already started generating revenues.“Female founders are certainly at a greater advantage than they were, say, a decade ago. Governments and investors are beginning to realise the positive economic implications of being more inclusive of women in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Work remains to be done, but the mounting evidence of the above-average potential of female founders to lead successful start-ups, combined with the rise of female-led and female-focused VCs, is welcome,” said Sharif.Flat6Labs also provided insight into the areas of business that pioneers are focusing their efforts on. HealthTech start-ups accounted for the largest number of applications to the Ignite program, followed by near-equal proportions of FinTech, FoodTech, and Transport & Logistics ventures. Interesting, not far behind was the number of GreenTech companies, which also reflects the ongoing flight of capital towards sustainable investment opportunities.Offering his outlook for 2024, Sharif said, “The start-ups that will be especially well positioned to draw investor attention in 2024 are those that have based their disruptive innovations around sectors that the government is heavily backing. 2024 therefore holds the most promise for FinTech, Generative AI, e-Commerce enablement, HealthTech and Renewable Energy Tech innovators.”

TikTok, Emirates Airline LitFest join forces for #BookTok Challenge

Short-form video platform TikTok has forged a partnership with the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (Emirates LitFest) to introduce the #BookTok Challenge, an endeavor designed to amplify the creative expressions of fervent readers throughout the MENA region.With an impressive 209.3 billion global views, the #BookTok Challenge has evolved into a central nexus on TikTok, bringing together book enthusiasts, authors, storytellers, and educators. Participating local libraries are actively engaging in popular TikTok trends, recreating the immersive experience of library exploration, while content creators share their treasured literary discoveries.In celebration of this lively literary community, TikTok and Emirates LitFest extend an invitation to book enthusiasts and imaginative minds to partake in the challenge. From January 9 to January 22, participants can showcase their affection for books through TikTok videos, with an opportunity to gain recognition for their exceptional #BookTok content during the Emirates LitFest closing ceremony on February 4.To participate in the challenge, users simply need to share a distinctive and visually captivating video related to their reading habits, storytelling, reviews, book recommendations, and tips, utilizing the hashtag #BookTok to enhance visibility.International literary agents attending the festival will contribute compelling videos to the dedicated #BookTok page on the platform.Kinda Ibrahim, General Manager of Operations at TikTok Middle East, Turkey, Africa, Pakistan, and South Asia, expressed TikTok's belief in the transformative power of storytelling and the platform's dedication to providing a creative space within a vibrant community of creators.The #BookTok challenge will feature public voting from January 22 to 25, where users can participate in selecting the top 10 videos on a dedicated voting page on TikTok. A panel of judges, including three esteemed global authors—Sara Hamdan, Cecelia Ahern, and Salha Obeaid—will then choose five winners and five runners-up from the shortlist.The announcement of winners will take place on February 4 during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature closing ceremony, followed by a special performance by Rashed Alnuaimi. The victorious entries will be honored with an exclusive Montegrappa Hemingway pen and a TikTok Book Awards trophy.The chosen Montegrappa Hemingway pen is not just a writing instrument but also a tribute to the multifaceted life of Ernest Hemingway.Ahlam Bolooki, Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, conveyed excitement about the TikTok partnership, marking a new chapter in celebrating the love of books in the digital age. Bolooki emphasized the transformative impact of storytelling in the digital realm, creating a movement that influences the publishing industry and commemorating this shift through the region's inaugural book awards at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

Yas Island and Saadiyat Island receive 170 regional and global awards in 2023

Yas Island and Saadiyat Island have received 170 regional and international awards in 2023 after being recognised as a premier leisure and entertainment destination in the Middle East.His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Miral, said: “Achieving a stellar track record of success across the tourism ecosystem within Abu Dhabi is a proud testament to our relentless commitment in bolstering Abu Dhabi’s position as a global tourism hub. Award-winning destinations and attractions across Yas Island and Saadiyat Island continue to define new industry benchmarks while contributing to the growth and economic diversification of the emirate.”Yas Island received several awards, including recognition from the World Travel Awards as World’s Leading Theme Park Destination, the International Travel Awards as the Best Holiday Destination at the regional and continental levels, as well as the title of Best Entertainment Destination at the country level. It also received the MENALAC 2023 award for being the Best-Integrated Leisure Destination.Ferrari World Yas Island, Abu Dhabi won World’s Leading Theme Park for the fifth year in a row at World Travel Awards. The theme park was also awarded a Silver for Innovation in the Use of Events at the MENA Stevie Awards. Yas Waterworld Yas Island, Abu Dhabi received the Middle East’s Leading Water Park title at the World Travel Awards, while Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi earned the title of the Middle East’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards and CLYMB Yas Island, Abu Dhabi received the title of the Middle East’s Leading Adventure Tourist Attraction 2023.SeaWorld Yas Island, Abu Dhabi received the award in Outstanding Achievement at the esteemed TEA Awards. Yas Island received the title of Best Business Hotel in Abu Dhabi 2023 at the Business Traveler Awards 2023. Etihad Arena won the Sports and Recreation category at the 2023 International Architecture Award by The Chicago Athenaeum and was also recognised as a finalist for Venue of the Year, at the 2023 The Stadium Business Awards.Nurai Island received the title of the Best Leading Villa Resort 2023 at the World Travel Awards, while Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort received four awards, including Abu Dhabi’s Leading Resort 2023 and the World’s Leading Luxury Resort and Villas. Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas received eight awards, including Abu Dhabi’s Leading Beach Resort 2023, at the World Travel Awards.

IMI appoints Rania Masri El Khatib & Sharif Badreddine

International Media Investments (IMI), the region’s leading privately-owned media investment group, announced two new hires to its Executive Management Team, with Rania Masri El Khatib appointed as Chief Brand and Marcomms Officer and Sharif Badreddine appointed as Chief Revenue Officer. Both executives will report directly to Rani R. Raad, the Group’s Chief Executive Officer.These appointments come as part of IMI’s transformative efforts to build the organization into a forward–thinking global media powerhouse. “As IMI continues to grow, it is imperative for us to have the right expertise in place to propel our ambitious strategy forward. We are pleased to welcome Rania and Sharif to IMI, both of whom bring a wealth of experience and a proven track record of strategic achievements that will fortify IMI’s leading position in the industry, in line with our commitment to delivering innovative media solutions and elevating our presence in the global media sector.” Raad commented.Rania Masri El Khatib, a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in the brand and marketing industries, brings forth a wealth of expertise in shaping the way brands can innovatively connect with audiences. Her extensive background includes working with various international brands and launching homegrown ones; she most recently served as the Chief Transformation Officer at Chalhoub Group, the Middle East’s largest luxury retail organization, before starting her own consultancy. At IMI, Rania will lead the brand strategy, Marketing, Communications and Creative functions, with a vision to connect with audiences on multiple levels in a fast paced and information-rich world. “I am thrilled to join IMI and to contribute to a field that not only informs but also entertains and enriches lives.” shared Rania.Sharif Badreddine, brings more than two and a half decades of experience in the media and advertising industry, having served as the Group Director of Commercial at MBC Group, where he developed a holistic and multi-platform approach focused on product innovation and the creation of alternative revenue streams. His visionary leadership and strategic innovation have significantly influenced organisations and high-profile brands across various sectors and regions. In his new role, Sherif will lead the Commercial team, driving product innovation and revenue growth. “I am delighted to join IMI, an organization that stands at the forefront of media innovation and global storytelling. While our content continues to engage, inform, and inspire people worldwide, my priority would be to strengthen our partnerships with clients and agencies and help create innovative and deeper connections between their brands and audiences.” Sharif commented.IMI is a privately–owned investment company focused on building a portfolio of quality media assets across the globe. The company’s brands currently include The National, CNN Business Arabic, and Al-Ain News; along with interests in Sky News Arabia and Euronews.

Unstop and hrtech Forge Strategic Alliance to Revolutionize Early Talent in ME

In a landmark move set to transform the landscape of early talent acquisition and engagement in the Middle East, hrtech, a premier HR Technology Solutions and Analyst firm, has joined forces with Unstop, a talent discovery, community engagement and hiring platform for students and freshers, where talent meets opportunities. This strategic partnership is poised to reshape how businesses in the rapidly evolving Middle Eastern market discover and engage with emerging talent.This alliance leverages hrtech's deep market insights and consulting prowess alongside Unstop's cutting-edge platform, offering enterprises and startups in the Middle East a unique solution for engaging and hiring early talent. The collaboration is uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between the region's emerging talent and its burgeoning business sector, fostering a vibrant ecosystem encompassing Early Talent, Colleges, and Recruiters.Ankit Aggarwal, Founder of Unstop, expressed his enthusiasm about this collaboration, stating, "Our alliance with hrtech is more than a partnership; it's a commitment to the Middle East's future leaders. Unstop is dedicated to being an unstoppable force in talent development, and with hrtech, we are set to revolutionize how the Middle East discovers and nurtures early talent, aligning with our vision to provide innovative and localized solutions."Sriram Iyer, Founder & CEO of hrtech, shared his excitement about the partnership, saying, "Partnering with Unstop, renowned for their dynamic approach to talent engagement, marks a significant milestone in our mission. We are eager to redefine the HR landscape in the Middle East, confident that our combined expertise will introduce groundbreaking HR solutions tailored to the unique dynamics of this vibrant region."This partnership is more than a collaboration; it's a catalyst for change in the Middle Eastern talent landscape, promising to bring innovative solutions and new opportunities to the region's burgeoning workforce and dynamic business environment.

Google appoints Ziad Jammal as Google Cloud Country Manager in the UAE

Google Cloud announced the appointment of Ziad Jammal as UAE Google Cloud Country Manager to further drive digital transformation for UAE businesses in the new AI era. Ziad brings extensive experience in the technology industry and a deep understanding of the UAE’s digital landscape to this strategic role.As Google Cloud Country Manager, he will be responsible for overseeing Google Cloud’s go-to-market strategy, supporting partners relationships, and driving customers' success across the UAE. He will focus on scaling Google Cloud’s offerings in the UAE to help organizations across various industries, including the public sector, financial services, media, aviation, telco and retail, innovate faster.“We are delighted to have Ziad at the helm of our UAE operations,” said Abdul Rahman AlThehaiban, Google Cloud Managing Director, Middle East, Turkey and Africa. “His leadership, expertise, and knowledge of the region will be instrumental in elevating customers’ experience with Google Cloud, while ensuring businesses benefit from both cutting-edge solutions and the trusted support needed for their unique cloud journey.” Ziad has over 20 years of experience in information technology and tech sales leadership. He joined Google Cloud in 2017 and has since played a pivotal role in expanding the company’s value proposition in the UAE. In his most recent role at Google Cloud, he led the Startups and Digital Natives team where he successfully developed the go-to-market strategy to support, grow and empower local businesses and entrepreneurs.“I am excited to take on this new challenge and to spearhead the next chapter of Google Cloud’s journey in the UAE,” said Ziad. “The UAE has long championed ambitious plans for its digital economy, and looking at an entirely new era of digital transformation fueled by generative AI, there are unprecedented opportunities for businesses in the country to transform their operations and disrupt industries. With this, our AI-infused solutions for data, infrastructure, productivity, and security will help organizations in achieving transformative business outcomes and leveraging new technologies like generative AI.

Aramco Digital and Intel to forge collaboration

Aramco Digital and Intel announced their intent to establish Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Open RAN (Radio Access Network) Development Center. The facility is expected to drive innovation, foster technological advancements and contribute to the digital transformation landscape in the Kingdom.The collaborative effort aims to accelerate the development and deployment of Open RAN technologies, helping to enable the Kingdom to build robust and agile telecommunication infrastructure focused on accelerating digitization across industries. This collaboration aims to align with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, which focuses on technological advancements and economic diversification.Open RAN, an evolving paradigm in wireless network architecture, allows for greater flexibility, interoperability and innovation. Aramco Digital brings a deep understanding of the development needs and ambitions of the Kingdom and the opportunities for Open RAN technology deployment, along with a unique perspective of the Kingdom's economic landscape. Intel, a pioneer in computing and communication technologies, brings its expertise in Open RAN technologies to the collaboration.Highlights of the collaboration:**Innovation Hub:** The Open RAN Development Center aims to serve as an innovation hub, fostering collaboration between Aramco Digital and Intel engineers, researchers and industry experts.**Local Talent Development:** The Center aims to contribute to the development of local talent by providing training and hands-on experience in the rapidly evolving field of Open RAN and Edge computing technology.**Economic Impact:** The collaboration aims to contribute to the local economy through technology-driven initiatives, aligning with the broader objectives of Vision 2030.**Global Collaboration:** The collaboration on Open RAN between Aramco Digital and Intel is expected to extend beyond borders, connecting Saudi Arabia to the global landscape of Open RAN and Edge development and deployment.Aramco Digital's CEO Tareq Amin said: "This collaboration is a testament to our commitment to helping drive innovation in the Kingdom. The Open RAN Development Center is expected to be a catalyst for digital evolution, providing a platform for collaboration, skill development and the creation of a vibrant technology ecosystem. At the heart of this collaboration is the creation of a vibrant pool of local capabilities for advanced 5G and future 6G technologies.”"We are pleased to collaborate on Open RAN with Aramco Digital and to combine Intel's technological prowess in network and edge computing and software with the local insights and industry leadership of Aramco Digital. Together, we aim to accelerate the deployment of edge-native Open RAN solutions in Saudi Arabia and beyond," said Sachin Katti, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Network and Edge Group.The Open RAN Development Center is planned to commence operations in 2024, marking a milestone in Saudi Arabia's journey towards a technology-driven future.

Measuring impact: John von Hofsten discusses HOP's approach to success

Digital agency Home of Performance (HOP) has recently forged a strategic partnership with FitConnector, a groundbreaking mobile app connecting fitness enthusiasts with passionate professionals. The collaboration aims to redefine the fitness landscape across the region. In this interview with Adgully Middle East, John von Hofsten, the Managing Director of HOP, delves into the vision and strategies behind this partnership, and much more. Excerpts:In light of HOP's partnership with FitConnector, how do you envision leveraging your strategic expertise to contribute to the transformation of the fitness and wellness experience for individuals across the region?Partnering with FitConnector allows us to tap into our strategic expertise and truly reshape the fitness landscape. We plan to create targeted campaigns that go beyond just promotion, connecting users with the perfect coach based on their needs and goals. Imagine AI-powered recommendations, personalized content, and gamified challenges that build an engaging community around fitness. We'll leverage social media, influencer partnerships, and innovative marketing strategies to ensure FitConnector reaches diverse audiences and makes fitness accessible and appealing to everyone.FitConnector emphasizes democratizing access to quality fitness guidance. How does HOP ensure a client-centric approach, and what steps are taken to understand and address the diverse needs of clients in the evolving digital landscape?Client-centricity is embedded in everything we do at HOP. We actively engage with FitConnector users through surveys, polls, and social media interactions to understand their backgrounds, fitness goals, and technological comfort levels. This data informs our content strategy, user interface design, and even coach selection. We strive for inclusivity, ensuring the app caters to diverse needs, cultural backgrounds, and fitness levels. This continuous feedback loop allows us to adapt and personalize the experience for everyone.With the increasing role of technology in the fitness industry, how does HOP plan to integrate digital innovations to enhance the user experience within the FitConnector app and stay ahead of industry trends?The future of fitness lies in seamlessly integrating technology. We're exploring AI-powered workout recommendations that adjust based on real-time performance data, gamified challenges that motivate and reward users, and even adaptive training plans that personalize the experience. Imagine FitConnector suggesting healthy recipes paired with your workout or virtual challenges with friends, making fitness fun and social. We actively monitor industry trends and invest in R&D to ensure FitConnector remains at the forefront of digital fitness.Given the competitive landscape in the digital agency industry, what specific strategies or initiatives do you believe set HOP apart and contribute to its success in driving results for clients?While the agency landscape is crowded, HOP stands out through our unwavering focus on performance. We deliver tangible results, not just vanity metrics. We also value long-term partnerships, working collaboratively with clients like FitConnector to evolve their digital presence. Our data-driven approach allows us to constantly optimize campaigns and track ROI, proving every investment delivers a measurable return. Finally, our team combines passion, creativity, and tech expertise, giving us the edge in crafting effective and innovative digital solutions.Could you share insights into your leadership style and how it aligns with the dynamic and innovative nature of the digital agency environment?My leadership style reflects the dynamic nature of the digital world. I foster open communication, encouraging brainstorming and innovative ideas. Collaboration is key, and I empower individuals to leverage their strengths and take ownership. This creates a sense of purpose and dedication, driving us to exceed expectations and propel collaborations like FitConnector to success.How does HOP define and measure success? Are there specific KPIs or milestones that you consider crucial in evaluating the impact and effectiveness of collaborations?HOP's success goes beyond awards. We measure it by the tangible impact we create for our clients. For FitConnector, it's the number of lives transformed, the thriving communities built, and the positive shift in people's approach to fitness. We track key metrics like app downloads, active users, engagement rates, and user feedback to assess our progress and identify areas for improvement. These KPIs demonstrate the real-world impact of our collaboration and guide our efforts to continuously create positive change.Considering the evolving landscape of digital agencies, what major trends or shifts do you foresee in the industry (such as AI), and how does HOP position itself to adapt and capitalize on these changes?AI is a game-changer, and HOP is actively embracing it. We envision AI powering personalized recommendations, optimizing training plans, and even providing on-the-go feedback through voice assistants. We're also keeping an eye on the rise of augmented reality and the metaverse, where virtual fitness experiences could hold immense potential. HOP thrives on agility and continuous learning. We invest in training, attend conferences, and experiment with new technologies, ensuring we remain prepared to adapt and capitalize on these evolving trends.

Gifting innovations: Tarun Joshi's odyssey with IGP in the Middle East

Adgully Middle East recently interviewed Tarun Joshi, the Founder of Join Ventures in India, which is the parent company for IGP in the Middle East, and various other brands.From his roots as a DRDO scientist to steering Join Ventures, Tarun unfolds the narrative of IGP's expansion into the Middle East and the strategic vision driving its success in the region. Tarun, a seasoned technology entrepreneur and investor, is notable for establishing Join Ventures, a company with substantial holdings in the online gifting sector. Under his leadership, Join Ventures owns, recognized as one of the world's premier online gifting companies. Additionally, Tarun has strategically positioned the company to oversee, the Indian business of the world's largest floral company.In the interview, Tarun Joshi discusses his entrepreneurial journey from being a DRDO scientist to his current ventures. With his business acumen, he has successfully expanded IGP to the Middle East. The discussion will explore further insights into his business plans for the Middle Eastern region.Could you share your entrepreneurial journey and the genesis of the Join Ventures?My entrepreneurial journey has been a tapestry woven with threads of diverse experiences, each contributing to the fabric of Join Ventures, one of the world’s fastest-growing direct-to-consumer (D2C) platforms. At the helm of this venture, I find myself at the intersection of technology, innovation, and a relentless passion for creating meaningful connections through gifting and flowersThe genesis of Join Ventures can be traced back to my early days as an aerospace scientist, playing a pivotal role in designing the flight control systems for Tejas, India's first supersonic fighter aircraft. This experience ingrained in me the importance of precision, innovation, and the ability to navigate challenges with resilience. Building on this foundation, I embarked on a journey to harness technology for societal impact.Another turning point in my career was the design of the world's first biometric ATM, a pioneering initiative that broke down language barriers and facilitated financial inclusion for low-income microfinance consumers in India. This project fuelled my belief in the transformative power of technology to bridge gaps and enhance lives. It was a testament to the idea that innovation can be a force for positive change, fostering financial empowerment and inclusion.With over 12 years of experience at leading private equity firms, including 3i and CVCI, I honed my skills in strategic financial management. Managing investments exceeding $500 million in Asia provided me with a comprehensive understanding of market dynamics and a keen insight into the potential of emerging industries. This experience became a cornerstone for my venture into the entrepreneurial landscape.As an active angel investor in start-ups, my interests spanned diverse sectors, including e-commerce, financial services, technology, and consumer companies. These investments were not merely financial; they were strategic bets on the potential of visionary ideas and innovative solutions. Each investment contributed to shaping my entrepreneurial philosophy, emphasizing the importance of agility, innovation, and purposeful leadership.My passion for sports, particularly my achievements as a state champion and 11 times national level player in Badminton, instilled in me the values of discipline, determination, and a team-player approach. These values have been integral to my leadership style, fostering a culture at Join Ventures where talent thrives and evolves to meet the demands of the dynamic digital-first ecosystem.Join Ventures, with its flagship entities and, reflects my commitment to creating a platform that goes beyond transactions, focusing on creating memorable experiences for individuals across the globe. The vision is to redefine the landscape of online gifting and flower delivery, leveraging technology to forge emotional connections.In essence, my entrepreneurial journey is a mosaic of technological innovation, financial acumen, and a deep-rooted belief in the transformative power of purposeful leadership. Join Ventures is not just a business venture; it is a culmination of my experiences, values, and relentless pursuit of excellence in creating a positive impact on people's lives.IGP, a renowned gifting company, has embarked on its journey in the Middle East. What motivated the decision to introduce the brand in this region?The UAE has over 10 million people, and out of which 85% are immigrants who want to stay connected to their families and build and enhance their social graph in the UAE. Our sole reason for existence is to help our consumers stay connected to their friends and families back home and to enrich new relationships, whether personal or corporate. We view the UAE as our gateway into the MENA region, considering the warmth and sociability of the culture, which is consistent across the entire MENA region.What are your perspectives on the e-commerce landscape in the UAE? How do you intend to navigate and capitalize on this dynamic market with IGP?The e commerce landscape in the UAE has strong tailwinds. Given the increase in the migrated population in the UAE and preference for convenience, over 70% of people in the UAE are going to continue ordering online. This is expected to deliver over 30% growth p.a. to the online ecosystem in the UAE over the next 3-5 years.What strategies will you employ for marketing to ensure IGP's success in both the UAE and the broader GCC market?The entire GCC market is very aspirational and values the overall service experience. Our marketing strategy would be a mix of providing a strong AI-powered technology platform that reminds every important moment in the life of our consumers, best product portfolio spanning across flowers, cakes, personalised, home and fashion accessories, and on top of that delivery of all these products within 60 minutes.In the midst of the festive season, how can brands seamlessly integrate into the evolving e-commerce landscape in the UAE? How can a corporation develop a profound understanding and adaptability to market dynamics, ensuring a sustained impact in the gifting sector?Providing a superior delivery experience is the key to all brands. In a digital-first world, convenience and variety are of foremost importance. Gifting for example is very demanding as the consumers remember an occasion at the last minute and expect the best products to be delivered in the shortest amount of time. Sustainability is very important to be measured and implemented across the organisation.For IGP, if we want the world to be a happy place, we strive to ensure that we have to first give back to the society and the environment at large. We therefore monitor the carbon footprint of every single product, including the flower stems used in our bouquets, and make sure that we run a carbon-neutral organisation, which is making the entire world a happy place.Do you identify gaps in the gifting market, and if so, what is your approach to filling these voids?The biggest gap that I feel in the gifting market in the UAE is the lack of personalised options. Increasingly, consumers are looking at unique ways of expressing their heartfelt emotions for every special moment in the lives of their loved ones. We at IGP believe in bringing a smile to every recipient for every special moment.Currently, customized gifts are gaining popularity in the gifting sector. How does IGP plan to redefine the art of thoughtful and personalized gifting experiences?Every gift has a feeling associated with it. Customization is the best way to express a multitude of feelings. These feelings are the glue between people and their relationships (close or distant) and special moments (small or big and sad or happy).In the competitive landscape of gifting brands in the UAE and GCC markets, what is your strategy for IGP to stand out? What sets IGP apart from its competition?IGP is all about enriching relationships for over 10 million people in the UAE and over 50 million in the GCC. Our endeavour would be to present the best assortment of over 2500 gifts to express the relevant feeling for every occasion and relationship.Can you outline the cities where IGP is set to expand across the Middle East in the coming years? What are the future expansion plans for the brand?IGP has created a state-of-the-art 20,000-square-feet facility in the heart of Dubai, and will look at opening similar facilities in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and Jeddah.

X expands partnership with Shopify for new opportunities

X (former Twitter) is making strides in its "everything app" plan through a new partnership with Shopify. The partnership aims to provide more opportunities for Shopify merchants to promote their products within the app.The deal is expected to introduce new ways for Shopify sellers to advertise on X. This could potentially enhance the visibility of Shopify products on the platform.X and Shopify are working on facilitating easier catalogue uploads. Shopify merchants may have a streamlined process to showcase their products on X, making it more convenient for both sellers and potential customers. The partnership is intended to enable broader product awareness actions. This could mean increased visibility and exposure for the products offered by Shopify sellers on the X platform. X is working on securing payment transmitter licenses in U.S. states, and there's confidence in enabling peer-to-peer payments in the app. If successful, this could open up new opportunities for retailers, with Shopify merchants leveraging X's reach for in-stream payments and transfers.Shopify's President, Harley Finkelstein, emphasizes the importance of reaching customers wherever they are and suggests that the partnership will boost exposure for Shopify sellers.Elon Musk's "everything app" vision, hints at a comprehensive platform that covers various aspects, potentially including commerce. The success of this vision could significantly impact how businesses operate on the platform.While the details are still to be determined, the collaboration between X and Shopify appears to hold potential for both parties. If the "everything app" vision materializes and in-stream payments become a reality, it could indeed lead to significant opportunities for retailers, particularly those on the Shopify platform.

Mashreq Launches New Mobile App for Superior Digital Experience

Mashreq, one of the leading financial institutions in the MENA region, announced the launch of its innovative mobile app, Mashreq UAE, aimed at providing a superior digital experience for its customers. This cutting-edge solution represents a significant leap in mobile banking, merging the Mashreq app with the Mashreq NEO app to deliver a unified, single-login platform. This consolidation allows customers to view all their financial relationships across products and services, enhancing convenience and simplifying their banking experience.The newly enhanced Mashreq NEO experience offered through the Mashreq UAE app, has been specifically designed with the customer in mind, offering a personalized experience with features like tailor-made offers for credit and debit cards visible on the app dashboard. The app's simpler branding is aimed at providing a consistent experience across different customer segments and variants, truly embodying the essence of intuitive customer focus.Fernando Morillo, Group Head of Retail Banking, Mashreq, said:“Banks that are focused on enhancing their digital infrastructure are set to see a dramatic spike in engagement, thanks to a consumer base that is evolving to be more tech-savvy, seeking convenience, simplicity and personalization. As one of the leading financial institutions in the region, Mashreq has had a history of going beyond just offering new products and services, which has enabled us to pioneer the best-in-class experiences that benefit our customers. Because of the demonstrated success of our digital banking platforms in the UAE and other global markets, we have undertaken expansion to new markets, such as Egypt, Pakistan, and scaling up our presence in the GCC. The new, supercharged Mashreq NEO experience we have introduced through this launch, is yet another incredible milestone in our journey to creating truly game-changing digital experiences for our customers.”Radu Topliceanu, Head of NEO and Personal Banking, Mashreq, said:“As we embrace the future of banking, the revamped Mashreq NEO experience is more than just a technological advancement. It is a strategic pivot towards fully integrated, customer-centric digital experiences. The app is not only a gateway to efficient and secure banking but also a reflection of our commitment to understanding and addressing the unique financial needs of our customers. We are redefining the standards of digital banking, ensuring that every interaction is personalized, secure, and above all, effortlessly intuitive. Our aim is to not only meet but exceed the expectations of our digitally-savvy customers, making Mashreq the go-to bank for innovative and reliable digital banking services.”The app is particularly designed for the digitally connected consumer and busy professionals who manage their finances on the go. It offers existing Mashreq customers a consolidated view of their relationships with the bank, a single login for ease of use, and a personalized experience. The app’s 24/7 customer service via the Digital Chatbot – Mashreq Virtual Assistant is a highlight, offering instant support and transaction management. Customers who are new to the bank will benefit from a 100% digital onboarding journey, allowing them to open an account quickly and securely with just a face scan. This biometric face validation provides a fast, secure, and streamlined process, making decision-making simpler for the customers.In terms of growth and engagement, the launch of the Mashreq UAE app is anticipated to significantly boost user engagement rates. The bank forecasts considerable increases in these areas, showcasing the app's potential to transform the digital banking experience for its users. These enhancements align with Mashreq's vision for the app over the coming years, aiming to onboard all customers digitally, offer a comprehensive range of services, and establish itself as the most rewarding banking app in the market.

TikTok releases Season two of The Future of Retail podcast series

TikTok launched the second season of its podcast ‘The Future of Retail’, hosted by Aref Yehia, Head of Retail & E-Commerce Business Partnerships at TikTok MENA. The podcast hosts prominent retail industry CEOs to discuss the industry’s evolving landscape as the region continues to be a thriving hub for retail and embraces the transformative potential of emerging technologies. Full episodes will be accessible for streaming in both audio and video formats via TikTok channels.The region’s retail industry stands out globally, with the UAE’s retail market is expected to reach USD 37.70 billion by 2027. With a projected compound annual growth rate of 5.88%, the growth is a testimony of the increased competition and promising future of the dynamic promising retail landscape. In this podcast, TikTok dives deep with industry leaders to understand shoppers’ needs and identify the opportunities that will shape the future of commerce.Aref Yehia, Head of Retail & E-Commerce at TikTok MENA, shares his anticipation for the upcoming season, “This season, we're continuing our deep dive into the real innovations reshaping retail and e-commerce. Our guests this season bring a wealth of experience and perspectives on the transformative trends that are redefining the retail and e-commerce landscape. We're focusing on the heart of retail evolution – customer-centricity. This season is about unraveling how businesses are ingeniously adapting to the ever-evolving needs and preferences of customers."‘The Future of Retail’ will feature bi-weekly episodes, with the first episode viewable here. The first episode features the CEO of Talabat Tomaso Rodriguez, discussing all the innovations happening in the field of quick commerce and food delivery. The lineup for Season 2 also includes Hani Weiss, CEO at Majid Al Futtaim Retail, and Toufic Kreidieh, Co-founder & CEO at Brands for less.

MCN and its agencies across the region achieve Great Place to Work certification

MCN (Middle East Communications Network), along with all its agencies in the UAE, Qatar, and Egypt, proudly announce its continued recognition as a Great Place to Work® for the year 2024. This prestigious certification, awarded by the Great Place to Work (GPTW) organization, reaffirms MCN's commitment to fostering a positive and thriving workplace environment, marking a new standard for excellence in the industry.The extensive analysis conducted by Great Place to Work® Middle East, based on direct feedback from employees through an anonymous survey, highlights MCN's dedication to providing an outstanding working experience. This distinction is a collective achievement of the entire MCN community, which includes the following agencies: FP7McCann, Momentum, McCann Health, MRM, Mullenlowe, UM, Magna, KINESSO, Initiative, Weber Shandwick, Jack Morton, Commonwealth//McCann. MCN's success in achieving the Great Place to Work certification solidifies its position as a leader in employee satisfaction and as an employer of choice."We are incredibly proud of this unprecedented collective achievement in the UAE, Egypt and Qatar. This recognition is truly special; it resonates with the voices, votes, and sentiments of our exceptional teams. It is a testament to the passion and unity of our MCN family and the love people have for each other and for working together." Said Ricarda Ruecker, Chief Talent Officer, MCN.MCN looks forward to continuing its journey of fostering an exceptional workplace culture and is committed to annually renew the Great Place to Work certification and expand it to additional countries.

Dubai-based fintech platform Znap rebrands as TOTL

Homegrown cashback rewards platform Znap revealed today its new brand identity, TOTL, as part of an extensive visual and service delivery transformation strategy.The rebranding marks a significant turning point in Znap’s corporate trajectory and underscores the firm’s unwavering commitment to delivering need-driven fintech solutions to consumers and partners in the region.The new look will include a logo refresh, which represents “in our mind” contactless payments with exciting colours – green, which represents growth, health, and tranquillity; purple, which represents creativity, luxury, and wisdom – and attributes that evoke emotions and brand association.The rebrand from Znap to TOTL (pronounced Total) modernises and simplifies brand recall among consumers while delivering solutions that ultimately bring people together and improve lives.According to Uday Rathod, CEO and Co-Founder of the brand, TOTL, which represents payments with Value back (cashback), is an innovative approach that transforms cashback into a seamless and straightforward process for customers and local businesses.“We’ve reached a critical turning point that began with the unveiling of Znap in 2017 – a platform that was at the time solely designed to help consumers upload their billd and earn cash rewards on every product listed in the FMCG sector. However, as business dynamics and consumer preferences evolve, there is a need to move the brand to the next level. By rebranding to TOTL, we are now on a mission to help consumers get value for every Dhiram spent in a way that’s a win-win situation for both business and consumers,” said Uday.Despite the growing competition within the industry, TOTL has been making meaningful strides in the region. From 2021 until now, TOTL has seen exponential growth, with transactions surging by over 100X thanks to the increased cashback utilisation. Moreover, boasing an impressive customer return rate exceeding 83%, the company has experiences remarkable progress.Driving loyalty and salesOver the last few years, the cashback rewards industry has become an integral part of most businesses’ growth strategy in the UAE and regionally, as the concept continues to help homegrown retailers drive customer loyalty and increase sales. According to research firm Statista, the global cashback industry is expected to be worth more than US$200 billion a year by 2024, with participating retailers growing their revenue up to two and a half times faster than competitors who do not use them.On its part, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been experiencing a ballooning adoption of loyalty programs by businesses of all sizes, led by e-commerce platforms increasingly tapping into loyalty programs to boost repeat purchases and drive revenue growth. With its loyalty market, which includes cashback and rewards programs, poised to grow by over 12 per cent annually to reach US$1,423.7 million in 2023, the market is expected to increase from US$1,269.7 million in 2022 to reach US$2,214.5 million by 2027.Before the rebrand, Znap had partnered with over 600 businesses and with the new brand outlook, the company is now expected to aggressively into other untapped markets, including Abu Dhabi, Ajman, and Ras Al Khaimah, in a bid to tap different potential categories such as food and beverages, beauty and wellness, optical floral stores, pet care and more.

'Mall Millionaire' campaign concludes with grand prize and car winners announced

Line Investments & Property LLC has successfully concluded the exciting 'Mall Millionaire' campaign, announcing the lucky winners of the AED One Million grand prize and five T5 EVO cars. The campaign held, across thirteen malls in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and Al Dhafra, redefined the shopping experience, offering customers an array of rewards, entertainment, and shopping deals. The grand prize draw was the highlight of the campaign, with one fortunate shopper winning AED One Million. The lucky winner, Mr. Mohammad Sameer took home a million dirhams. Additionally, five lucky winners drove away with brand new Forthing T5 Evo 2024 cars. Throughout the campaign, shoppers also enjoyed winning Lulu Trolley gift vouchers, AED 20,000 Laka Cards worth up to AED 500K, and other instant prizes. "Witnessing the joy and excitement among our shoppers has been truly rewarding," said Wajeb Al Khoury, Director of Line Investments and Property LLC. "The 'Mall Millionaire' campaign's third edition has not only offered fantastic shopping deals but has also created unforgettable moments and happy winners. It's gratifying to see our vision for a unique shopping experience come to life across our malls." Biju George, General Manager, Line Investments, commented, "The overwhelming response to the 'Mall Millionaire' campaign underscores our commitment to offering exceptional experiences to our shoppers. We are thrilled to have brought back this campaign, making the shopping season memorable. Congratulations to all the winners, and we look forward to hosting more such engaging events in the future." The campaign's success has set a new benchmark for shopping extravaganzas in the region, with weekly prize-giving ceremonies, daily draws, and the mega prize of AED 1 million plus cars. The participating malls witnessed an unprecedented turnout, reflecting the campaign's popularity. Line Investments & Property LLC extends its gratitude to all the participants and partners who made the 'Mall Millionaire' campaign a phenomenal success and promises to return with more exciting initiatives in the future. Participating malls included Al Wahda Mall, Mushrif Mall, Khalidiyah Mall, Al Raha Mall, Mazyad Mall, Forsan Central Mall, Al Falah Central Mall, Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre and Gold Centre, Hameem Mall, and Mafraq Mall in Abu Dhabi as well as Al Foah Mall and Barari Outlet Mall in Al Ain and Al Dhafra Mall in Al Dhafra.

Thriwe launches exclusive membership program ThriwePrime

Thriwe, a leading technology-driven B2B Benefits-As-A-Platform company, has launched ThriwePrime, an exclusive membership program designed for the KSA region. As part of its expansion into the Saudi market, ThriwePrime offers unparalleled access to a myriad of premier brands including Spotify, Nahdi Pharmacies, Amazon, Uber, Mrsool, Careem, and more across Travel, Entertainment, Shopping, Digital, and Healthcare at exclusive discounted rates.Thriwe, specializes in rewards, loyalty with a decade of experience, and offers innovative solutions to Acquire, Engage, and retain customers. Renowned for its decade-long expertise, Thriwe has broadened its service portfolio to encompass various verticals. With over 30,000 strategic partnerships and associations, it is now venturing into user-oriented technology-driven holistic platforms. These platforms aim to provide a spectrum of lifestyle and wellness, dining, digital, and travel benefits and services, all while maintaining its core ideology of delivering excellence consistently.Dhruv Verma, the Founder & CEO of Thriwe, expressed enthusiasm about the launch, stating, "ThriwePrime marks our dedication to empowering businesses and individuals with an exclusive membership experience that goes beyond traditional benefits. We are excited to bring this innovative program to the KSA market, providing our users with a seamless journey towards elevated lifestyles and enhanced well-being."Sachin Sharma, Chief Operating Officer of Thriwe for the KSA region underscored, "The launch of ThriwePrime in the Saudi market seamlessly aligns with Vision 2030, emphasizing the progression of digital services and delivering unparalleled value to our users. Witnessing rapid growth in the tech-based retail market in KSA, further solidifies our commitment to meeting the dynamic demands of this flourishing sector."ThriwePrime offers three distinct membership tiers – Silver, Gold, and Platinum, with prices starting from SAR 149. The platform's user-friendly redemption process includes visiting the ThriwePrime official website, selecting a membership bundle, providing contact details, making the discounted payment, unlocking a unique membership ID, downloading the Thriwe App, and registering with the same details to access benefits.In navigating the new market landscape of Saudi Arabia, Thriwe is strategically opening its doors to users, including decision-makers across diverse businesses. Recognizing the substantial impact of experiences in decision-making, Thriwe is launching an initiative that enables decision-makers to directly encounter their services on behalf of their customers. This proactive approach underscores Thriwe's commitment to understanding and meeting the unique needs of the Saudi market.Thriwe's track record of strategic partnerships with renowned financial institutions and its global presence in over 130 countries has positioned it as a trusted leader in the B2B benefits space. With a goal of generating USD 100 million in revenue from the Saudi Market over the next 36 months, Thriwe remains committed to revolutionizing benefits platforms and enhancing user experiences across various industries.

Sherpa Communications among Communicate’s Best Places to Work 2024 in MENA

Sherpa Communications, an award-winning B2B-focused communications agency based in Dubai, has been featured among Communicate’s Best Place to Work 2024, a list of organisations in MENA’s marketing and advertising sector that are actively working to create a workplace dedicated to cultivating environments that attract, retain, and support top-tier talent.Communicate Magazine, a leading voice in the marketing, advertising, and creative industries, had a refined process to gather insights and analyse organisations based on their workplace initiatives, employee benefits, opportunities for professional development, and commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in their operations. This helped them shortlist companies that upheld commendable work policies, culture, and practices. Selection for this list was determined through an anonymous survey completed by employees, serving as the key factor in the shortlisting process.On this occasion, Anastasiya Golovatenko, PR Director, at Sherpa Communications, said: “We are incredibly honoured to be recognised by Communicate as one of MENA’s Best Places to Work. This acknowledgement validates our commitment to fostering an inclusive, collaborative, and inspiring workplace where our team members can excel and grow professionally. At Sherpa, we believe in cultivating a culture of 'sharing and caring' among our team members, bridging connections and fostering collaboration. Our focus extends beyond mere business strategies; the company is a platform that cultivates professional growth opportunities, empowering our team, and nurturing a sense of belonging and purpose within the workplace.”Sherpa Communications, an expert in Public Relations that understands the importance of human-centred approach, places a strategic emphasis on cultivating a robust corporate culture, recognizing its significance and importance. This conviction is supported by various studies, including a Glassdoor survey, which revealed that 77% of potential employees assess a company's culture before applying. By implementing progressive initiatives and offering comprehensive professional development opportunities, Sherpa Communications cultivates an inclusive and supportive environment that encourages creativity and individual growth. Their commitment to pushing boundaries and fostering innovation ensures their employees feel valued and motivated to deliver their best.

Advanced Media Trading and EditShare explore the future of cinema

Advanced Media Trading recently launched CINETomorrow, the third edition of its biannual digital cinema community event, as an interactive intersection of digital cinema, virtual production and sustainability in media and entertainment from January 11-13, 2024.The three-day event from January 11 to 13, 2024 was broken down into three main themes: “Light, Sound, Action!,” “Behind the Scenes,” and “Future of Cinema.” Every theme corresponded to a day of workshops and addressed the main subjects associated with the theme. Day three, “Future of Cinema,” focused on how environmental concerns have shifted productions from physical to digital with virtual production and cloud technology. “ On January 13th M&E technology expert Iain Churchill-Coleman kicked off the day with a 90-minute workshop on “Mastering Remote Production for Video Editors.” Powered by EditShare, the workshop emphasized how navigating remote video production demands not only requires technical knowledge but also a good understanding of project management, permissions, and IT security. In this era of rapid change, remote editing has become an essential skill for editors and content creators. “We have called it the future of cinema but it is really the present. The amazing technology developed by EditShare and the services provided are already revolutionizing cinema for the better. We cannot recommend them to productions enough,” Abdelrahman Elalfy, Corporate Sales Manager at Advanced Media Trading.EditShare is an Emmy Award-winning technology leader, supporting storytellers through collaborative media workflows across on-premise, cloud and hybrid architectures. The market-leading open software solutions and robust APIs improve workflow collaboration, third-party integrations and content sharing across the entire production chain. Designed specifically for media applications, the high performance line-up provides shared storage, archiving and backup, and intelligent media asset management.Through a recent merger with Shift Media, EditShare now also integrates tools for content review and distribution, the creation of customized and branded pitch reels, and secure preview of high-value pre-release content. The workshop led by Iain Churchill-Coleman was designed to empower editors with the indispensable knowledge and techniques required to operate efficiently in remote work. "I was delighted to participate in the inaugural CINETomorrow event. It was a great opportunity to showcase Editshare's commitment to advancing efficient remote production and collaborative media workflows" remarked Churchill-Coleman.CINETomorrow is an edition in a series of digital cinema events organized by Advanced Media. After receiving a positive response from the workshop attendees and event participants, both Advanced Media and EditShare hope to curate more training opportunities together both in the region.

Alstom appoints Dr. Dalya Al Muthanna as Managing Director & CEO

 Alstom has announced the appointment of Dalya Al Muthanna as the new Managing Director & CEO in Gulf (UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain).With a track record of customer-oriented success in the Gulf, Dalya held the position of President at GE in the UAE and global Chief of Strategy & Operations for GE International Markets, as well as previously holding the position of President & CEO for GE in the Gulf region. Her educational background includes a Ph.D. from Imperial College London and an MBA from the American University in Dubai.“With Dalya Al Muthanna on board, Alstom is poised to elevate and further localize its presence in the Middle East's dynamic mobility sector. Her role is crucial as we align with each country's drive towards net-zero carbon emissions. We are enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead, particularly in areas of infrastructure enhancement, digital optimization, and innovative sustainable mobility solutions,” stated Andrew DeLeone, President, Africa, Middle East and Central Asia Region at Alstom.In her role at Alstom, Dalya will be instrumental in steering the company's growth and enhancing relationships with key stakeholders.“I'm excited to join Alstom and lead a dynamic team dedicated to pioneering sustainable mobility solutions. Alstom has been an integral part of the region’s growth in rail transportation, and I'm honoured to contribute to this legacy. We are committed to deepening our impact and fostering broad-based collaboration, ensuring Alstom continues to play a crucial role in the sustainable development for years to come.” says Dalya Al Muthanna.Alstom, a global leader in rail transport and mobility, has a long-standing presence in Qatar and UAE. The company has delivered major successful projects in the region. For example, Alstom delivered the Dubai tramway, the first fully integrated tramway system in the Middle East, and the world's first 100% catenary-free line, which was opened in November 2014. The company provided the complete railway system in Dubai Route 2020 Metro, the world's fastest-built turnkey metro project, and also built the first tramway in Lusail Qatar, the largest tramway system project in the Gulf region.

Flextock reports: Sales 3x amidst KSA’s digital growth surge in Q4 of 2023

Flextock, a leading e-commerce enabler in the Middle East, cites that the KSA was on pace to reach an impressive $13.71 billion in digital sales by the close of 2023 and a projected annual growth rate of 14.37% leading to a market volume of $23.46 billion by 2027. Against the backdrop of this digital growth, Flextock has emerged as a notable success story, capitalizing on the flourishing market to contribute significantly to the evolving landscape of e-commerce in the area.The company most recently displayed this during White Friday & Riyadh Season 2023. While traditional companies typically see a doubling of sales during this period, Flextock boasted a noteworthy triple surge. The strategic approach of Flextock’s machine learning algorithm in predicting high-demand SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) enabled the fast and accurate delivery of the orders which minimizing the opportunity loss for merchants in the KSA to below 1%; this is a remarkable achievement compared to the industry benchmark in the region of 3-5%.With consumers in the Kingdom increasingly gaining confidence through internet penetration of 98% and a growing young population, the expansion of e-commerce platforms is rapidly growing. Moreover, with the Saudi government promoting digital transformation as part of its Vision 2030 initiative to diversify the economy, the increased use of mobile devices for online shopping is progressively being seen by consumers to contribute to the overall expansion of the sector.Looking ahead Saudi Arabia is anticipated to surpass a remarkable 20 million digital economy users by the year 2030. To stay on par with the bolstering growth, Flextock’s machine learning algorithm accurately predicts what is in high demand and estimates the velocity of SKUs efficiently to benefit all their merchants and minimize turnovers as well as maximize delivery time to under three days as opposed to the industry standard of just over three days.Mohamed Mossaad, CEO of Flextock commented: "Our pioneering strategy for merchant growth in Saudi Arabia has been instrumental in solidifying our impactful presence, highlighting the direct link between our merchants' success and ours. In the White Friday and Riyadh Season frenzy, where consumer activity reaches new heights, the demand for flexibility and agility has never been more pronounced. Our recognition of this paradigm shift led us to prioritize our promptness in product delivery, as well as our versatile approach to help ensure availability during peak seasons allowing us to streamline the process for our merchants. Understanding that consumer outreach extends beyond the day-to-day social media platforms, tapping into diverse channels ensures a widely accessible and agile shopping experience, allowing us to align with the pace and preferences of today’s dynamic marketplace in the region.”With e-commerce experiencing a notable escalation in the KSA, consumers rely on social media platforms for their shopping needs such as Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat, among other platforms. In response to rising advertising costs, Flextock strategically diversified its sales channels, providing consumers with an outlet to not simply rely on traditional platforms which ultimately resulted in an additional 35% of merchant orders that led to their success.   With a diverse range of users, Flextock is not only accommodating micro-brands and large-scale retailers during busy seasons but also all year around.

Dubai Lynx announces first wave of speakers

Dubai Lynx, MENA’s leading platform for creative excellence and effectiveness, has announced the first wave of speakers confirmed to take to the stages this March. The Festival will see a curated programme of talent and experts from across the spectrum of creativity, on two stages of content, featuring Mastercard, ESL FACEIT GROUP, HungerStation, Kraft Heinz and the Saudi Ministry of Culture. Ian Fairservice, Vice-Chairman, Dubai Lynx, said: “This year’s Dubai Lynx will see content that addresses the challenges facing the industry in MENA today. The key themes will look at creative effectiveness, talent and culture, creative risks and AI and innovation, with each session built to provide delegates with future-facing views as well as actionable advice that they can take away. We’re delighted to bring together some of the top talent from the region and beyond, and we look forward to the abundance of learning, knowledge and inspiration that these creative minds will bring to the Festival.”This year’s Dubai Lynx will host some of the region’s most creative leaders to give delegates the tools they need to create more impactful work that drives business results. Highlights include deep dives into the mind of a CMO, featuring Mustapha Kassem, Senior Vice-President, Marketing & Communications, Middle East and North Africa, Mastercard. Kassem said: “Dubai Lynx has set the industry benchmark for creativity and innovation. It is an incredible opportunity to connect with passionate minds, share insights and exchange ideas that can push the boundaries of creativity. For more than 25 years, Mastercard has differentiated itself as a brand, through our ever-evolving Priceless platform which remains at the heart of everything we do. I am excited to join this prestigious event and join the conversation with the region’s marketing leaders as we explore and nurture the region’s dynamic creative landscape.” Elsewhere, Fabio Tambosi, Senior Vice-President, Global Marketing, ESL FACEIT GROUP, will share the most challenging issues some of the top brand leaders in the MENA region are facing right now. Tambosi added: “I believe in the power of brands to open people’s perception of the world and I use marketing as a catalyst and platform to change the way fans emotionally connect with brands. This is exactly what we co-create with the gaming community every single day at ESL FACEIT GROUP, and something for which Dubai Lynx has long provided a platform, consistently unleashing limitless creativity for the marketing community. I’m excited to take to the stage to talk about how esports is rising as the new global sport, and changing people’s relationships with premium sport entertainment to a point where marketers can no longer afford to ignore or fear.”Industry legend Josy Paul, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer at BBDO India, Gabriel Schmitt, Global Chief Creative Officer at Grey, and Marie-Claire Maalouf, Chief Creative Officer at Edelman, will discuss why proving the effectiveness of your creative work is important for both creatives and marketers. Donya Abdulhadi, Director of Marketing and Communications, Saudi Ministry of Culture, and Mohammed Jefri, Chief Marketing Officer, HungerStation, will take to the stage to look at best practices for working with Saudi brands and agencies and how to engage consumers. Dubai Lynx will also focus on how AI is allowing brands and agencies to make more creative work, featuring speakers Rebecca Bezzina, CEO EMEA, R/GA, and Nick Pringle, Chief Creative Officer EMEA, R/GA. Philip Thomas, Chairman, Dubai Lynx, commented: "This year’s programme features an exceptional line-up of regional and international talent. We’re looking forward to taking a deep dive into the region’s trends and challenges with these experts and leaving with tangible learnings that can be applied day to day to drive growth and progress.” The full content programme will be announced on Monday 29 January, with Festival Registration, including Press Accreditation and the Awards Ceremony & Dinner, opening on Thursday 18 January. Further information on the Festival programme can be found at

TrillerTV secures broadcasting rights for AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023

TrillerTV, previously known as FITE, has revealed its exclusive acquisition of broadcasting rights for the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 in the UK and Ireland. Under this deal, all 51 games of the tournament will be accessible live through the TrillerTV+ subscription. The AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023, featuring top talent from 24 Asian nations, will be available for TrillerTV+ subscribers in the UK and Ireland, allowing them to watch live matches and on-demand highlights presented in a tournament-style group stage and knock-out stage format. The streaming service's expansion into diverse sports content, facilitated by the sports marketing agency AFG, showcases its commitment to delivering premium sports and entertainment to its dedicated audience beyond its initial focus on combat sports.

How Agencies are Weaving Ethics into Marketing and Public Relations

Agencies hold the onus to communicate the intricacies of the brands they represent. In today’s hyper connected and technological savvy world, it is important to communicate the right thing to the audience. The days of unquestioned brand narratives and hollow promises are gone. The new currency for brands to gain trust is transparency, authenticity, and social responsibility. This has led to a major change in public relations and marketing: the integration of ethics. Leading agencies have recognized the ethical imperative to move beyond the mere campaign results to consider the broader impact of their communication strategies. This integration manifests in several key ways as Ms. Bhagyashree Singh, Director CEO of Merakii Group, emphasizes: Prioritizing Transparency: Misleading claims and exaggerated narratives are fading away and are replaced by direct and honest communication. This entails conducting thorough fact-checking and owning up to mistakes. Customers value companies that accept responsibility for their shortcomings and aim for sincere communication. Fostering Sustainability and Societal Impact: In order to address concerns like climate change, responsible waste management, and community development, agencies are more often working with clients to include social responsibility into theircampaigns. This promotes sustained brand loyalty in addition to being consistent with consumer values.Supporting Diversity and Inclusion: To ensure that messages connect with a larger audience and avoid damaging beliefs, agencies are actively supporting a range of voices and opinions. Naturally, creating more compelling and inclusive narratives is essential. Being inclusive is a strategic benefit in engaging with today's consumers, not merely a box to be checked.Building an Ethical Culture: Top agencies must integrate moral values into their corporate cultures. This entails giving staff members the opportunity to voice issues, creating clear norms, and providing regular ethical training. The agency's ethics become ingrained in its operations, guiding ethical decision-making at all levels. Ms. Bhagyashree Singh states that, “The path of ethical communication is paved with challenges and constant learning. But it is important to keep in mind that the price of being dishonest and making false promises is far higher than the effort required to act morally. We should approach our responsibility as communicators with unwavering commitment to moral narratives, for the benefit of our clients and the audience at large.”

Sony Honda partners with Microsoft to create a personal agent for mobility

Sony Honda Mobility Inc. (SHM) is exhibiting a booth at CES® 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA starting on Tuesday, January 9, 2024 (local time).In advance of CES® being opened to the public, Sony’s press conference was held on Monday, January 8 (local time). Representative Director, President and COO Izumi Kawanishi took the stage. During the press conference, SHM announced a collaboration with Microsoft Corporation. (Head Office: Redmond, Washington, USA; Chairman and Chief Executive Officer: Satya Nadella) in creating a personal agent for mobility. The following is a summary of the announcement of this collaboration at the press conference.AnnouncementsSHM aims to revolutionize how people move, making mobility interactive and expressive, redefining the relationship between people and mobility, enhancing “emotional experience”.SHM has also entered into an agreement with Microsoft to develop a conversational personal agent, using Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service.AI plays an essential role in achieving our goal to redefining the relationship between people and mobility, enhancing emotional user experience. Microsoft is a key partner to provide conversational personal agent. We are pleased to be working with Microsoft to realize our vision.Izumi Kawanishi, Representative Director, President and COO, Sony Honda Mobility“Generative AI is a new canvas that is amplifying human creativity and creating opportunities for creators and designers to completely transform the in-vehicle experience. We are proud of our collaboration with Sony Honda Mobility and excited to see their innovative use of Azure AI technologies and their ability to build with confidence knowing Microsoft Azure is providing a trusted platform as the AI landscape and mobility industry evolves. As these new technologies come forward, safe and responsible AI will continue to be a top priority for both organizations”.Jessica Hawk, Corporate Vice President ?Data, AI, Digital Applications Product Marketing, Microsoft“As a Mobility Tech Company that connects diverse inspirations and pursues cutting-edge technology, Sony Honda Mobility Inc. will realize innovations in mobility that affect people’s sensibilities and behavior”.

Chaffic Haddad joins VML MENA as Chief Creative Officer

Chaffic Haddad has been appointed as Chief Creative Officer in VML MENA. Haddad, prior to joining VML, was with Wunderman Thompson, MENA as Chief Creative Officer. Chaffic Haddad has made the announcement of his joining on his LinkedIn: “I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position as Chief Creative Officer, VML MENA.”He has over a decade of experience in creative advertising.

Porsche sales grow 11 per cent in Middle East, Africa and India region in 2023

Porsche has delivered 9,135 cars in the Middle East, Africa and India region in the 2023 calendar year.This represents 11 per cent growth compared to 2022, and follows a 20 per cent increase the year prior. New car deliveries since 2020 have now grown 47 per cent.“2023 was another year of growth for our region thanks to our exceptional Porsche product line-up, in conjunction with the efforts of our importers and staff,” said Dr Manfred Bräunl, Chief Executive Officer, Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE.“We continue to work hard as a team to deliver ‘dreams’ to our customers. It was a busy year of exciting events and new product launches, as we celebrated 75 years of Porsche sportscars.”The Cayenne was again the best-selling model for Porsche in the region, in a year when a new, updated model was launched.It was the strongest year yet for sales of the Taycan all-electric sports saloon, which enjoyed growth of 80 per cent compared to the prior year.Porsche community celebrates in 2023The third edition of the Icons of Porsche festival in Dubai attracted over 27,000 fans in November, almost twice as many fans attended one year earlier. The event saw the first public display in the world of the new Panamera, as well as well as commemorating 75 years of Porsche sportscars and 60 years of the iconic 911 model.In September, the Geneva International Motor Show in Qatar saw the regional premiere of the all-electric Mission X hypercar concept and the amazing 911 S/T.Across the region, market activities included a series of ‘Festival of Dreams’ events to acknowledge the Porsche milestones of the year, as well as various facility openings and upgrades, including the inauguration of five facilities in India in a single week.“After an enormous 2023, we have another exciting year ahead this year,” said Bräunl.“There will be several major product launches, including the all-electric Macan and Taycan models, as well as many new facility openings across the region.“Therefore, 2024 will be an ‘electrifying’ year in which we continue to work hard to deliver for our Porsche owners, as well as support and empower our trusted importer partners.”

Tata Soulfull launches in UAE and Kuwait

Tata Soulfull, a pioneer in the good-for-you Snacks and Breakfast Cereals segment, has launched in the GCC. Tata Soulfull is part of Tata Consumer Products Limited- a focused consumer products company uniting the principal food and beverage interests of the Tata Group under one umbrella.Signature products from Tata Soulfull’s award-winning portfolio of millet-based snacks and cereals are now available across the UAE and Kuwait with plans to expand further across the GCC over the next 6-12 months.With the declaration of 2023 as the International Year of Millets by the United Nations, these ancient grains have garnered the spotlight, reflecting a growing recognition of their potential in strengthening food security, and contributing to sustainable agriculture.Tata Soulfull has rightly taken the initiative to create innovative and delicious products that celebrate this nutrient-rich game-changer rich in proteins, iron and calcium and is catering to evolving consumer preferences. This innovation happens at India's largest fully customised value-added millet processing unit.Products currently on the shelves include Tata Soulfull Millet Muesli Crunchy and Millet Muesli Fruit & Nut from the muesli range and Tata Soulfull Ragi Bites Crunchy Choco and Ragi Bites Choco Fills from the finger millet based cereal range. These are perfect, wholesome options either as an anytime snack or to kickstart one’s day.Tata Soulfull Ragi bites Crunchy Choco and Ragi bites Choco Fills are both crafted with chocolate and reinforce the brand's emphasis on providing both taste and crunchy bite in one delightful snack. With their Maida (refined wheat flour) -free composition, offering a wholesome alternative for children, these products are designed to win the approval of parents and their little ones.“The global health and wellness trend is driving consumers towards more nutritious and wholesome food choices. Millets fit well into this narrative with their myriad health benefits,” said Prashant Parameswaran, MD & CEO of Tata Consumer Soulfull, “People want to eat healthy and our research for new products is now based on these findings. Where we score is in creating imaginative, attractive, and super tasty cereal mixes and snacks that are irresistible and nourishing, both for children and adults.”“The popularity of our Tata Soulfull Muesli has grown exponentially, and Ragi Bites No Maida Choco recently won the Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation Award 2023 for product ingenuity and delivering value at scale. This acknowledgement of our continuous efforts to revive Indian Millets in more unique and convenient formats is what drives us, and we are confident that the Middle East’s discerning consumers will follow suit and choose Tata Soulfull.”“In a world where water is scarce, millets are an ideal crop. In addition to their high nutritional benefits, millets can grow in conditions that many other crops can’t tolerate. They are heat tolerant and need significantly less water than other grains. Millets are now also seen as a smart food that needs to be incorporated into one’s diet as we aim for a more eco-conscious future,” he added. Tata Soulfull cereals are now available in leading retails stores across the UAE at attractive prices.

CEOs in the ME most forward-looking as they face a new age of disruptions

Businesses in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates remain optimistic about the prospects for their company (80%) and the overall economy (85%) as they continue to navigate the challenges ahead, working closely with their respective governments. This is according to findings from global consulting firm AlixPartners’ Disruption Index (ADI), an annual survey that canvasses more than 3,000 CEOs and executives from around the world to uncover the latest global business concerns.Regional CEOs are confident in embracing and responding to disruption with nearly all (90%) believing that their natural leadership style thrives in a disrupted environment, far higher than 75% globally. Top defensive actions they have taken to navigate disruption include developing action plans and scenario planning/analyses (80%) with 7 in 10 currently prioritizing revenue growth over profitability and building core business over valuable new businesses.Executives in the region were second-highest disrupted, after China, with 68% saying they were highly disrupted in the past year. Regional CEOs, like many of their peers in other regions,worry that their company is not adapting fast enough to the pace of change (67%), with over 60% actively changing their business models, either currently or within the next year, an indication that a significant number of regional companies are embracing transformation.Business leaders in the two countries are also investing more in digital tools and technologies than they were in the prior year, more than 5 points higher than the global average. Workforce challenges are still significant, with 85% saying that the pace of change is making their employees’ skills obsolete (compared to a global average of 58%), and 80% saying that their employees were not open to change (compared to 55% globally). However, they also noted that visa reforms have made hiring and retaining qualified workers easier now than it was two years ago.“It is difficult to imagine a region of the world where both the threats and opportunities of our disruptive age are more on display than the Middle East,” said Gabriel Chahine, Middle East Leader at AlixPartners. “While there are climate pressures across the region, and global geopolitical tensions, governments and businesses in the region are among the most forward-looking in the world—accelerating investments into education, infrastructure, the green transition, and digital technologies.”Digital Adoption a PriorityAI and automation were the primary disruptive forces as per this year’s results at 87% (v/s 46% globally), with 64% planning to invest the most in digital transformation to ensure growth for their business over the next 3-5 years. 50% of CEOs are also prioritizing process automation as the key technique they need to address in the coming year (twice as high as the global average), in line with the region's focus on leveraging technology for transformation.9 out 10 executives reported that their company has the resources needed to invest in new technology and digital solutions and nearly half reported that their company is investing more in digital tools and technology than they were the prior year. For executives in the region, return on investment is the top consideration when making decisions around technology investments (55%) followed by the ability to integrate within existing systems and processes (41%).“The rise of generative AI is both exciting and daunting for many leaders in the world, but from what we’re observing here in the region, companies are embracing this adoption as priority, following in the footsteps of the governments visions,” noted Chahine. “The prospects for business making this adoption are significant and often result in massive productivity gains, as well as new vectors for revenue growth, value protection, and job opportunities, and those organizations who embrace it will be the ultimate winners.”

MENA Fintech Association reignites SHIFT – Payments Working Group

The MENA Fintech Association, the premier not-for-profit organization dedicated to serving fintech startups and established players across the Middle East and Africa, is excited to announce the reignition of its Payments working group known as SHIFT, marking a significant leap forward in the evolution of financial technology within the region. The association is delighted to appoint Akshay Chopra and Imane Adel as Co-Chairs to spearhead this revitalized effort.Founded in 2018, the MENA Fintech Association has earned recognition as one of the top 4 fintech groups globally. With a strong presence in the Middle East and Africa, the association has been at the forefront of driving innovation and fostering collaboration in the fintech industry.In a strategic move to amplify its commitment to advancing payment solutions and fostering innovation, MFTA has chosen industry leaders Akshay Chopra and Imane Adel to guide the SHIFT – Payments Working Group. Their wealth of experience, forward-thinking approach, and dedication to pushing the boundaries of fintech will undoubtedly elevate the group's impact.Nameer Khan, Chairman of MENA Fintech Association and Founder of FILS, stated the following, "The resurgence of the SHIFT – Payments Working Group is a testament to our commitment to driving fintech innovation in the MENA region. With Akshay Chopra and Imane Adel as Co-Chairs, we are confident in the transformative potential of this collaboration. Their expertise and vision align seamlessly with the association's mission to shape the future of finance. Together, we aspire to lead the charge in revolutionizing payment solutions, fostering collaboration, and championing an inclusive fintech landscape across the Middle East and North Africa.Akshay Chopra, a veteran fintech investor, inventor, and practitioner, serves as Managing Partner at 237 Ventures. 237 Ventures grows businesses via investment, product advisory, coaching, and board directorship. He serves on multiple boards, including the MENA FinTech Association. Akshay holds 7 fintech patents, and his former executive roles include VP heading innovation, product design & crypto solutions for Visa CEMEA.Akshay stated the following upon taking over this role, “I am honored to co-chair the SHIFT – Payments Working Group alongside Imane. In an era of unprecedented innovation, this platform provides a unique opportunity to shape the future of payments in the MENA region, co-creating with large players, new entrants, policymakers, and enablers. We will also work closely with regulators to share the ecosystem’s inputs.”Imane Adel, EVP of Strategy at Paymob, is a seasoned payments professional with tenures at Visa and Mastercard, a member of the Forbes Technology Council, and a Strategic Adviser to regional startups, stated the following upon joining SHIFT,” As we embark on this exciting journey co-chairing the SHIFT – Payments Working Group, I am thrilled to collaborate with industry leaders and innovators to shape the future of payments in the MENA region. The convergence of technology and finance presents unprecedented opportunities, and together with Akshay Chopra, we aim to drive a wave of innovation, foster strategic partnerships, and advocate for a regulatory environment that propels fintech forward. This is not just a working group; it's a collective force shaping the narrative of financial technology, and I am honored to be a part of it.”

Netflix has 23 million global viewers on its ad-supported tier

Netflix provided another update on the viewership numbers for its ad-supported tier on Wednesday. The Netflix Standard with Ads plan has now reached 23 million monthly active users globally, a substantial increase from the 15 million reported in November.While subscriber count denotes the number of paid accounts a streaming service has, monthly active users represent the number of individual profiles within a paid account.Netflix also disclosed its intention to introduce pause ads in the coming months.It seems that Netflix is finally witnessing the desired momentum in subscriber growth since it introduced ads just over a year ago. In May, the global monthly active user count for its ad-supported service was only 5 million, and by August, it had doubled to 10 million. For comparison, Disney is also undergoing a similar growth trajectory, with its last reported AVOD subscriber count around 7 million in November.Advertisers had voiced concerns about Netflix's initial lack of scale as recently as May. However, with its current growth rate, Netflix is better positioned to appeal to marketers. As buyers aim to reach a sufficient number of viewers to justify their investments, particularly in the context of allocating funds for streaming during the upfronts, media companies are already taking notice.Regarding upfronts, Netflix is expected to have a broader range of ad inventory available for negotiations in the coming months.In a few months, Netflix will launch pause ads, appearing after a viewer pauses a stream for at least five seconds, aiming to be minimally disruptive. The introduction of binge ads was also announced in November, offering brand sponsorship deals that allow viewers to access an ad-free episode in exchange for watching a sponsored message. Additionally, advertisers will soon have the option to include QR codes in their ad creatives.

TrailRunner International expands operations in the Middle East with key hires

 TrailRunner International (TRI), a leading global strategic communications advisory firm, today announced the expansion of its Middle East operations. Following the recent appointment of Seth Hand as the new Head of Middle East, TRI has further enhanced its presence in the region with the addition of three new senior team members.The new hires reaffirm the firm's commitment to the dynamic and rapidly developing MENA region and are in direct response to growing demand from TRI's diverse client base. To meet this demand, TRI established offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai last year.Joining the team are Anan Ibrahim and Christoph Diesch, both appointed as Directors, bringing a wealth of regional experience. They are joined by Associate Hannah Guenther, who recently transitioned from TrailRunner’s New York City office, adding her significant U.S. and international expertise to the firm's local capabilities in the UAE. “This is a real statement of our commitment to investing in top talent and expertise, particularly across the key sectors of energy, technology, and finance,” said Seth Hand, Managing Director of the Middle East. “Strengthening our team in the Middle East, a region of immense growth and opportunity, will help us serve the dynamic needs of our clients as we kick off 2024.”With 15 years of experience in communications, Ibrahim will work closely with TRI’s team in the U.S. to build TRI's expanding energy portfolio. Her notable achievements include leading the energy practice in the UAE for Edelman and serving as Head of Media Relations for the Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC).Diesch brings over a decade of experience across government, corporate, and startup sectors. His expertise in technology, built through his leadership of projects for notable clients at other global agencies in the region, including Edelman and APCO Worldwide, will be invaluable in his new role at TRI.Guenther, with more than five years at TRI’s New York office, will leverage her extensive experience in government, finance, technology, and healthcare sectors to directly support both TRI's regionally based clients and international clients looking to unlock opportunities in the region.TrailRunner International is poised for an exciting year of growth and innovation in the Middle East, driven by its expanded team and enhanced regional capabilities.

A trio of Gold Wins for myco and Xapads at Mobexx Awards 2023

myco, the web3 video streaming platform and Xapads, a global ad-tech platform together celebrated a triumphant triple victory at 7th Mobexx 2023 Awards. These awards are a testament to innovation, creativity, and impact, underscoring the seamless integration of Myco's cutting-edge video streaming platform with the advertising technology expertise of Xapads. The three awards they won are Best Mobile App for Video, Entertainment & Sports (Global)myco's innovative mobile app, designed to cater to the dynamic preferences of users in the domains of video, entertainment, and sports, received the highest accolade in this category.Best Mobile App of the Yearmyco's mobile app stood out as the Best Mobile App of the Year, winning the Gold in this fiercely competitive category. The recognition underscores the app's exceptional features, user interface, and overall impact on the mobile app landscape.Mobile Advertising Excellence in Integrated Campaign (Global)Xapads executed this campaign across YouTube through Pulse,their AI-based platform designed to pinpoint the ideal audience and engage their interests effectively with the help of context driven video level targeting.Adding to this Gagan Uppal, Country Head-MENA Xapads, said “ We are honoured to have secured three gold awards alongside our esteemed client. Elated that the campaign strategies resonated with the panel for its innovation, as well as ability to meet the right audience and exceed KPIs”.Xapads and myco’s combined achievement highlights their dedication to elevating innovation in the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing.

AppsFlyer launches new AI solution to enhance creative process

AppsFlyer today launched Creative Optimization, its new product that provides marketers with unparalleled insights into their creative assets and data-driven guidance on maximizing their impact. Coupled with Artificial Intelligence (AI), Creative Optimization identifies patterns, trends, and features that drive optimal audience engagement, enabling marketers to capture the most value from their ad spend while enhancing the effectiveness of their creative content and campaigns.  Creative Optimization empowers stakeholders across performance marketing, creative, and Business Intelligence (BI) teams to collaborate to craft diverse asset variations, test, and validate winning variables within advertisements — saving time and resources while elevating performance. Marketing teams now possess the tools to make creative decisions that marry human intuition with the precision, speed, and scalability of the AI capabilities embedded within the product. “The new Creative Optimization product presents a real breakthrough for marketers, bridging the gap between creative and growth marketing teams while addressing key pain points to drive success for both,” said Yevgeny Peres, EVP of Product Strategy at AppsFlyer. “By delivering sophisticated, in-depth creative insights, it enables growth marketing teams to optimize spend, increase scale, and drive profitability by automatically identifying which creatives perform best in campaigns. Simultaneously, it equips the creative team with valuable insights on the attributes of winning creatives, empowering them to focus on the most effective elements and allocate their time and resources more efficiently. This seamless collaboration closes the feedback loop, boosts confidence in creative production, reduces risk by minimizing investment in underperforming creatives while scaling the production of winning ones to drive profitability at scale.” AppsFlyer worked with more than 100 companies, including fintech company Dave and mobile gaming leader Papaya Gaming, through the development and testing of Creative Optimization over the last year. Companies across gaming, fintech, e-commerce, and entertainment industries employed the product to enhance their marketing efforts to great effect. Brands utilizing the product were able to grow their ad spend by as much as 300% while seeing vast improvements in key performance indicators. Campaigns resulted in increases in ad click-through rates of up to 50%, decreases in cost-per-install by as much as 30%, and saw up to 100% uplift in customer retention and revenue metrics. “AppsFlyer's Creative Optimization has been a game-changer for our cross-team creative collaboration efforts,” said Christian Espinoza, Senior Marketing Technology Manager at Dave. “We've seen a significant increase in efficiency, and it's transformed our creative optimization process by providing a deep understanding of what works best on specific channels and allowing us to extract maximum value from our top-performing assets. We’ve seen a major increase in efficiency — what used to take us 8-10 hours a week, we can now effortlessly pull and share reports with the creative team, making data-driven decisions without the need for manual data extraction or platform hopping.” “Creative Optimization is transformative for our campaigns, allowing our marketing team to reach larger audiences, improve our efficiency and collaboration,” said Dan Hayoun, Performance Group Manager at Papaya Gaming. “This has led to great results and helped turn the creative marketing process into a growth engine across our award-winning portfolio of games. As a leader in the next generation of gaming, we are constantly looking for cutting edge tools that can help us operate on a larger scale, while providing the best options for attracting and retaining players to continue growing our business.” Creative Optimization enables users to marry best-in-class AI creative capabilities and AppsFlyer’s analytics-driven dashboards to deliver the most efficient and effective campaigns: ?     AI-powered insights for maximizing ad spend and creatives’ effectiveness. Creative Optimization automatically analyzes creative assets, breaking them down into scenes, and provides performance data and guidance for effectively replacing underperforming elements. ?     Access granular performance data to uncover the winning formula for your creative strategy. Creative Optimization aggregates all creative performance data in one place, providing an unbiased, comprehensive overview of creative performance, including cost, installs, clicks, and down-funnel metrics like retention, lifetime value and more.?     Turn creative performance into meaningful data for your BI system. Creative Optimization consolidates all creative data, offering a reliable and up-to-date system that incorporates recent changes in the marketing ecosystem. This streamlines the data integration process and ensures a credible and trustworthy source for creative data within the BI system.

LeadGen Arabia appoints Wassef Koleilat as Associate Media Director

Wassef Koleilat has taken on the role of Associate Media Director at LeadGen Arabia in Saudi Arabia. Drawing on his extensive experience in the evolving digital landscape and a successful track record with global brands such as P&G, adidas, Samsung, and McDonald’s, Koleilat appears well-prepared to lead major agency clients and foster the agency's growth.In his capacity, Koleilat will play a pivotal role in steering digital transformation efforts for LeadGen clients and contributing to overall business expansion, aligning with the agency's dedication to innovation in the dynamic Saudi Arabian market.Elie Zenieh, the Managing Director of LeadGen Arabia, expressed excitement about Wassef's addition to the team, highlighting his media expertise and anticipating that it will bolster the agency's standing in the Saudi market.Wassef Koleilat conveyed his enthusiasm for joining the LeadGen team, underscoring his strategic approach and insights into digital trends that are expected to enhance the agency's ambitious growth plans. Observing the impact of his leadership on the agency's offerings and market presence will be intriguing.

The Brill Collective appoints Tryph Greenwood as Director of Client Services

Bridging the gap between freelance consultants and traditionally structured agencies, disruptor-model marketing and communications agency, The Brill Collective has signed Tryph Greenwood as Director of Client Services.Founded in May 2023 by PR and Communications powerhouse and former Head of PR at M&C Saatchi UAE, Amy Brill, the business taps into the extensive expertise and skillset of individual consultants who want to deliver excellent results, without being tied into a traditional agency work routine and contract.For clients of The Brill Collective, this signifies access to some of the industry's best and brightest minds, expertly paired with them by The Brill Collective’s core team. Meanwhile, consultants can set their own working hours, workflow, and location, while working with clients and colleagues who resonate with their industry or skillset expertise.After a successful start-up period, Tryph has joined to assist Amy and the core team in bolstering the agency as it moves into its next phase of growth. With more than 17 years of communications experience under her belt, including nine years in the UAE, Tryph will be working with a huge roster of talented consultants and a growing client portfolio to ensure excellent results, a healthy new business pipeline, and explore ways in which The Brill Collective can continue to challenge the traditional agency red tape.“Since our inception, we've experienced substantial growth and now boast over 150 consultants in various fields—from planners to publicists, content creators to copywriters, and everything in between—all meticulously vetted to combine best-in-class knowledge, reach, and influence. Our client roster also continues to expand, and the feedback on our model and approach has been incredibly positive. We’re moving with the flourishing freelance market of the UAE and, with Tryph onboard, we’ll be enhancing our growth trajectory whilst ensuring we remain true to our initial vision. I cannot wait for what 2024 holds,” said Amy Brill, Founder of The Brill Collective.“I am hugely excited to join The Brill Collective as the company ethos and mission, along with the client and consultant portfolio, are all things I feel a real affinity for. What Amy and the team have conceptualised and built so far is not only a testament to their expertise and passion but also a clear indication that there is a growing appetite for a shake-up within the marketing and communications industry in the way we attract and retain talent to deliver exceptional client results. The world has changed and, in a day and age where we are hyper-connected, there should be balance and trust; we should have freedom to choose the right working environment, rather than adhering to a more traditional working day, to maximise our output to the benefit of our clients.

WEMADE partner with DIFC Innovation Hub to set up Web3 gaming hub

WEMADE, a global gaming company headquartered in South Korea, and the DIFC Innovation Hub, the leading centre for technology and innovation in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, have jointly announced a strategic partnership to build a global Web3 gaming hub, ‘WEMIX PLAY Center’. This initiative aims to boost the development of Dubai’s gaming ecosystem and support the ‘Dubai Program for Gaming 2033’ to position Dubai among the top 10 cities in the global gaming industry.DIFC Innovation Hub, which fosters innovation, enterprise and talent across various sectors, has welcomed WEMADE as the first South Korean gaming company to join and benefit from its accelerator schemes, innovation community, and supportive regulatory frameworks. WEMADE will collaborate with DIFC Innovation Hub to expand the WEMIX ecosystem. The WEMADE-DIFC Innovation Hub collaboration focuses on several core initiatives, including establishing the ‘WEMIX PLAY Center’ within the DIFC Innovation Hub to onboard Web3 game companies. To fully optimise this milestone opportunity, a USD100mn investment fund will be established, with WEMADE anchoring the fund and providing a go-to-market pipeline for Web3 game developers. This involves facilitating targeted access to millions of active Web3 game players on the WEMIX PLAY platform, which is WEMADE’s native game platform for Web3 games. Currently, it features over 65 games from third-party developers alongside WEMADE’s main IPs.Under this partnership, WEMADE and DIFC Innovation Hub will organise a Web3 event in Dubai in the first quarter of 2024.Henry Chang, CEO of WEMADE, emphasised the significance of this move, stating, “The UAE stands out as one of the most dynamic hubs for innovation. WEMADE’s collaboration with DIFC Innovation Hub to establish the ‘WEMIX PLAY Center’ underscores our dedication to foster Dubai’s evolution into a central hub for global Web3 gaming, and to provide an enhanced environment for global game developers and studios to leverage the unique benefits that Dubai offers for the global distribution of their games.”Mohammad AlBlooshi, CEO of DIFC Innovation Hub, said, “We are excited to welcome South Korean gaming giant WEMADE to the thriving ecosystem at DIFC Innovation Hub. Dubai has a dynamic gaming sector, and this collaboration further strengthens our position as a global hub for innovation and will help nurture the next generation of gaming industry talent. Establishing a strong gaming industry will further advance the city’s digital ecosystem, contribute to economic diversification efforts, and boost employment in the sector over the next decade in line with the goals of Dubai Program for Gaming 2033.”

Banyan Tree Group announces a shift of its name to Banyan Group

Celebrating three decades of creating exceptional experiences across hotels, spas, residences, food and retail, Banyan Tree Group is evolving its corporate umbrella brand from “Banyan Tree Group” to “Banyan Group”. This brand shift reflects the Group's evolution into a dynamic, multi-brand hospitality powerhouse.Since 2019, the Group has doubled its brand portfolio, bringing its pioneering spirit, design-led experiences, and purpose driven mission to new destinations, including Banyan Tree AlUla in Saudi Arabia, Garrya in Kyoto, and Folio in Osaka, Japan, Dhawa in Ho Tram, Vietnam, Homm in Huzhou, China and Banyan Tree Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. 2023 also marks a year of strong and steady business performance that has surpassed pre-pandemic levels.Multi-brand Growth Continues in 2024 With 19 New Openings“As we celebrate the Group’s 30th anniversary and its evolution into Banyan Group, this milestone is not only testament to the Group’s enduring success in the hospitality industry but also sets the stage for an exciting future,” said Eddy See, President and CEO of Banyan Group. “This brand evolution reflects our portfolio transformation from a single luxury brand to the diverse offering we have today. Almost half of all countries we operate in carry a multi-branded presence, most of them high-growth travel destinations. With a keen eye on expansion, we are seizing new opportunities with our distinct brands, designed to meet evolving traveller preferences and needs in these dynamic markets.”Banyan Group currently manages 12 global brands, 75 hotels and resorts, over 60 spas and galleries and 14 branded residences across 22 countries. As part of a robust pipeline of properties, the Group’s expansion in 2024 will include 19 new properties and residences in Cambodia, China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Mexico. Here are the highlights:The Group’s first property in Cambodia will debut with Angsana Siem ReapThe first Banyan Tree property in Japan, Banyan Tree Higashiyama KyotoFurther enhancing Banyan Group’s multi-brand presence, additional brands are set to debut in Vietnam – Angsana Quan Lan in Halong Bay and Garrya Mu Chang Chai, as well as in South Korea with Cassia and Homm Sokcho.Suzhou, approximately 2 hours away from Shanghai by train or car, will feature two complexes – The first, in Shishan, will include Banyan Tree and Angsana, while the second, by Yangcheng Lake, will include Banyan Tree and GarryaAngsana Tengchong marks the Group's fifth property in the Yunnan province of ChinaIn North America, Banyan Tree Veya Valle de Guadalupe marks the debut of the first full-fledged Banyan Tree Veya in MexicoRecord-Breaking Business Performance in 2023The robust growth slated for 2024 has been driven by a resilient recovery post-Covid, surpassing pre-pandemic metrics across various regional markets. Key 2023 metrics include:Hotels achieved higher RevPAR, up by 44%, in 9M2023 compared to 9M2022, and also surpassed the pre-pandemic performance by 27% as opposed to 9M2019, on a same store-store basis.Residence sales for 9M2023 reached 90% of the full-year sales in 2022, which was the best year on record.China has proven to be a strategic driver, with a remarkable +49% increase in RevPAR 9M2023 compared to the same period last year, and +18% increase in RevPAR compared to pre-Covid level in 2019 on a same-store basis. The operating footprint has expanded from 16 in 2019 to 25 properties in 2023, with 14 more in the three-year pipeline. Continued growth is anticipated, driven by a healthy opening pipeline and the strength of the domestic and outbound Chinese market in both residences and hospitalityThe recent buyback deal with China Vanke further strengthens the Group’s position as a key player in the hospitality industry by streamlining strategic decision-making in response to market dynamics and enhancing day-to-day operational efficiency.New Sustainability Commitments and Deepened DifferentiationSimultaneously, the company has maintained its pioneering spirit and commitment to both design-led experiences and a purpose-driven mission of stewardship and responsible tourism, making it a trailblazer for inclusive growth and sustainability.“As Banyan Group celebrates our collective success over the last 30 years, we also recognize that the progress can’t stop here,” said Ren Yung Ho, Senior Vice President, Brand & Commercial at Banyan Group. “The core beliefs and values that have guided Banyan Group to this milestone will continue to underpin our growth strategy as we remain dedicated to being a force for positive change for both people and the planet.”In 2024, Banyan Group will align with United Nations Climate Science-based Targets to develop a comprehensive 2030 Sustainability Roadmap that addresses both environmental and human capital development in line with its founding ethos of Embracing the Environment, Empowering People. It will also pioneer a circularity pilot project, reinforcing the brand’s commitment to advance the hospitality industry’s transition to regenerative practices.The Group will also launch Laguna Lakelands in Phuket, its most ambitious nature-integrated development. Spanning 110 hectares, Laguna Lakelands will encompass a Rainforest park, over 10km of treetop skywalks, and six distinct zones—orchard, lakeside, lagoon, valley, and forest—ushering in a new era of immersive living.New Programming and InitiativesDuring its 30th anniversary in 2024, Banyan Group will launch Beyond, a new digital companion that offers a holistic experience across its codified wellbeing framework, and withBanyan, an experiential members programme that rewards engagement, interactions and actions. The celebration extends globally with 11 trade pop-ups, engaging global consumer campaigns, the launch of 8 signature scents inspired by the Group's eight pillars of wellbeing and limited edition artisanal anniversary gifts, all crafted in collaboration with the communities where the Group operates.