UAE jiu-jitsu team gearing up for Asian championships in Thailand

The UAE national jiu-jitsu team, sponsored by Mubadala Investment Company, is stepping up preparations ahead of the seventh Jiu-Jitsu Asian Championships, scheduled to kick off on February 24 in Bangkok with the participation of 37 countries. The squad, currently ensconced in a training camp in Sydney, has entered the crucial final stage of preparations.The players, overseen by technical staff from the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) and led by coach Ramon Lemos, train twice a day, in the morning and the evening, to improve their physical and technical abilities, attention levels, and knowledge of different combat techniques.Mubarak Al Menhali, Director of the UAEJJF’s Technical Department, said: “The camp in Australia is the team’s last practice before they depart for Thailand to compete in the Asian Championship. This is crucial for the team as it enhances the players’ technical, physical, and mental abilities and is one of the most important and critical elements in helping the team get ready to win the continental title.”In turn, Ramon Lemos, coach of the national jiu-jitsu team, expressed confidence about the team’s performance. “The final training session was productive, accomplished its objectives, and showed an improvement in the technical, tactical, and physical levels. We’re putting a lot of emphasis on strengthening the workouts in the next days to improve the technical and skill components and build physical fitness,” he said.Elsewhere, Shamma Al-Kalbani, the national team member, said: “Our preparations are progressing as planned, and we're working to put all the instructions the coaching team gives into practice so that we can overcome obstacles and keep winning titles.”The men’s national team delegation includes Theyab Al-Nuaimi and Omar Al-Suwaidi (56 kg), Omar Al-Fadhli and Khaled Al-Shehhi (62 kg), Muhammad Al-Suwaidi, Sultan Jabr and Faraj Al-Awlaki (69 kg), and Mahdi Al-Awlaki (77 kg), Saeed Al-Kubaisi and Faisal Al-Ketbi weighed (85 kg), and Abdullah Al-Kubaisi and Hazza Farhan weighed (94 kg).The women's team includes Hamda Al Shekheili and Aisha Al Shamsi (45 kg), Balqis Abdul Karim and Hessa Al Shamsi (48 kg), Asma Al Hosani and Shamsa Al Ameri (52 kg), Bashayer Al Matroushi (57 kg), and Haya Al-Jahuri and Shamma Al-Kalbani weighed (63 kg), and Marwa Al-Hosani weighed (70 kg).

MENA OTT revenues to double

Middle East & North Africa OTT TV episodes and movies will generate $5.69 billion by 2028; double from $2.83 billion in 2022. Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia together will account for 55% of the region’s revenues by 2028. The 13 Arabic-speaking countries will generate $2.47 billion in 2028; up from $1.28 billion in 2022.AVOD will bring in $1.55 billion by 2028 – up by $1 billion on 2022. Turkey will supply 62% of the 2028 total, with Israel bringing in another 11% and Saudi Arabia 10%.SVOD is the revenue driver for OTT TV and video. SVOD revenues will reach $3.82 billion in 2028; up by $1.8 billion from $2.03 billion in 2022.Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research, commented: “We forecast 42 millionSVOD subscriptions by 2028, double from 21 million at end-2022. Netflix will have 11 million subscribers by 2028. Disney+ started in the Arabic countries, Israel and Turkey in 2022 – with 7.22 million subscribers expected by 2028.”

PepsiCo partners with NTSC

In a joint effort to develop a full decarbonization roadmap for PepsiCo’s fleet in the MENA Region, PepsiCo, a globally leading food and beverage manufacturer, and National Transportations Solutions Company (NTSC), a Petromin portfolio company, signed a wide-ranging Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), and commenced the decarbonization process with the launch of the first Electric Commercial delivery truck pilot in Saudi Arabia.The MOU signing was attended by Aamer Sheikh, CEO of PepsiCo Middle East, Kalyana Sivagnanam, the Group CEO of Petromin Corporation, Gary Flom, CEO NTSC, and representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA), MODON and the Ministry of Investment. PepsiCo’s collaboration with NTSC will pilot a state-of-the-art 4-ton Quantron EV truck in Saudi Arabia, acting as the first step towards integrating EVs into PepsiCo's fleet in an effort to ultimately reduce carbon footprint in line with Saudi Vision 2030. PepsiCo has been a key innovator supporting the creation of a circular and inclusive value chain to meet aggressive sustainability goals, including net-zero emissions by 2040. This journey underlines PepsiCo’s commitment to pep+ (PepsiCo Positive), its strategic, end-to-end transformation strategy with sustainability at the center to create growth and value.NTSC is a leading technology company that utilizes new energy economics discipline and Internet of Things (IoT) fleet management systems for enabling B2B and B2G sectors to decarbonize their entire fleets through transition to BEV & FCEV commercial vehicle platforms. Supported by optimal charging and green H2 refueling infrastructure, NTSC is an active contributor to the achievement of the sustainability goals of Saudi Vision 2030.Through this partnership, PepsiCo will aid the process of reducing and eventually eliminating the collective carbon footprint. This emphasizes PepsiCo's pep+ transformation strategy, which aims to build a positive value chain by operating within planetary boundaries and inspiring positive change for the planet and people. A commitment to sustainability and Vision 2030, this partnership strives to work towards reducing the collective carbon footprint.PepsiCo has taken significant steps to utilize renewable energy in its Riyadh Snacks plant and continues to do so to meet the objectives. In 2022, PepsiCo’s Riyadh plant replenished 100% of the water it consumed annually back into the local watershed. This accomplishment accounts for 65% of the Kingdom’s total water usage by the snacks business. Following the MoU singing, a truck bearing Lays' sustainability branding will be unveiled and subsequently will tour Riyadh and Jeddah.Aamer Sheikh, PepsiCo CEO, Middle East, commented “We are excited to join forces with NTSC and Quantron in this pioneering move and contribute to finding solutions that can lower the carbon footprint in Saudi Arabia. Our commitment to sustainability is rooted in our belief that the only way to ensure a bright future for our planet and its inhabitants is to adopt sustainable practices wherever possible. We have been present in Saudi Arabia for over 65 years and are committed to driving the Vision 2030 goals through our pep+ initiative. With the Saudi Green Initiative in mind, it is empowering for us to grow our sustainability programs in the Kingdom to create and innovate, to achieve a green future.”Gary Flom, CEO NTSC expressed his support by saying, "Our joint effort with PepsiCo is in line with Saudi Vision 2030 and is a testament to our commitment to reducing the collective carbon footprint and driving towards a net zero emissions future. NTSC is the first and only fleet mobility solutions company in the GCC with the ability to develop complete carbon optimization and decarbonization roadmaps. In fact, we are confident that this initiative will result in numerous other major companies following PepsiCo’s lead to decarbonize their fleets and thus transition to a nature positive business model and contribute to the betterment of our planet and all of its inhabitants. Thank you PepsiCo and the Kingdom for including strong environmental improvement goals in the Vision 2030 program.”Across the MENA region, PepsiCo is increasing its activity in creating a more sustainable food system, spearheading the movement towards eco-friendly consumption within a circular economy. The MoU with NTSC will further support Vision 2030 creatively and responsibly meet current and future energy and climate challenges.

Toluna releases Global Consumer Barometer - Wave 21

Toluna, a leading market research and consumer insights technology provider, recently conducted the latest wave of their multimarket study, Global Consumer Barometer. Now in its 21st wave, the Barometer features data for 18 markets including UAE and KSA and aims to understand the changing needs of today's consumers and how they adapt to the rising cost of living.According to the report, 50% of those polled in UAE and 38% in KSA are concerned about their own financial security, compared to 41% globally. However, 74% of respondents in UAE and 68% in KSA feel more hopeful about their future than 44% at global level. In the current global economic situation, 63% of respondents in UAE and 61% in KSA expect to properly control expenses until the global economy stabilizes, compared to 60% globally.Budget control, bargain huntingThe report shows that residents in UAE and KSA are more affected by price fluctuations, particularly in kids' snacks and baby products. To meet their spending budget, 39% of respondents in UAE and 49% in KSA are inclined to switch to more economical options, compared to 36% globally. Both markets showed a commitment to better budget management, with residents planning to reduce unnecessary purchases, change supermarkets for more convenient prices, and shop more efficiently to get the best deal. For instance, 34% of individuals in UAE and 38% in KSA have intentions to switch supermarkets in search of better pricing options, compared to the global average of 28%. Additionally, 34% in UAE and 30% in KSA plan to shop more frequently to minimize waste and secure better deals, as opposed to 25% globally. Lastly, 28% in UAE and 33% in KSA aim to reduce their shopping frequency but purchase items in bulk, compared to the worldwide average of 23%.CompromisesWhile residents of UAE and KSA are willing to compromise on some spending habits, they plan to continue spending on beauty and skincare products (UAE 21%/KSA 27%), vacations abroad (19% and 20%), and fitness activities (UAE 22%, KSA 15%). The motivations for reducing consumption vary by category. For instance, 57% of survey participants in both UAE and Saudi Arabia plan to cut back on electronics purchases for financial reasons, compared to 51% globally. Meanwhile, 46% in UAE and 54% in the KSA plan to reduce their consumption of soda and soft drinks for health and sustainability reasons, while the global average is 36%.The road aheadConsumers in UAE and KSA are anticipating a rise in spending in the near future, particularly in regards to food (+54%, +48%), vitamins and minerals (+46%, +40%), clothing (+47%, +42%), gaming (+31%, +28%), and dining out (+43%, +37%). To adapt to these rising costs, 18% of respondents in UAE and 24% in KSA stated their intention to opt for cheaper alternatives to their regular products. Meanwhile, 18% in UAE and 15% in KSA said they would spend less on gaming compared to 13% worldwide, and 19% in UAE and 17% in KSA expressed a willingness to reduce their purchases of premium brands, compared to 19% globally.Quality vs priceThe global average shows that 33% of consumers prioritize price when shopping for groceries, while in the UAE and KSA, the focus is more on quality standards with 26% and 25% respectively. When it comes to choosing between a sustainable brand and their favorite brand, residents in both the UAE and KSA show a preference for sustainability with 7% and 6% respectively, compared to the global average of 6%. Health is also a major consideration in their grocery purchases, with 20% in both the UAE and KSA compared to the global average of 15%."What surprised me the most in the latest wave of our Global Consumer Barometer is how UAE and KSA consumers seem to be adjusting to economic hurdles while still embracing eco-friendly habits and focusing on healthier choices, in spite of rising prices. At the same time, they are much more optimistic regarding the future than their global peers, over 20% more, in fact! That’s a clear message for brands to stay tuned and dig a little deeper on this signal. The other interesting insight is that regional consumers Middle East residents choose quality over price while shopping for groceries, whereas in other regions it’s the opposite” commented Georges Akkaoui, Enterprise Account Director, Toluna MEA. While 42% in UAE and 36% in KSA are concerned about rising rent and mortgage payments, compared to 30% globally, they reported less concern about growing living costs. In line with global trends, seven out of ten respondents in both markets reported being affected by the energy crisis and inflation.

STARZPLAY expands to Iraq

STARZPLAY, ranked consistently among the region’s top 3 subscription video on demand service, today announced its partnership with Iraq’s biggest OTT player Almanasa to provide STARZPLAY’s diverse breadth of entertainment and sports offering for subscribers in the market.As part of the three year agreement, STARZPLAY will provide its core product catalogue of movies and TV shows for Almanasa subscribers in addition to the STARZPLAY Sports pack. This means that viewers in Iraq subscribing to Almanasa will be able to enjoy unlimited entertainment and the best in live sports, all under one umbrella.Further, Earthlink, Iraq's largest Internet service provider, will bundle Almanasa platform as a Premium Bundle with its home internet packages to offer value added benefits for its users. The Premium Bundle is exclusive for EarthLink home internet users and will be included in their subscription.Raghida Abou Fadel, SVP for Business Development & Sales, STARZPLAY, said: “We are delighted to expand our network to cover Iraq to offer premium and cutting-edge programming to all the entertainment and sports enthusiasts in the market. Our content line-up offers an impressive library of English and Arabic programming as well as the best live sporting events and through these value-added packages, subscribers can enjoy exceptional entertainment at no additional cost. We look forward to our partnership with Almanasa as we continue to expand our footprint in the Middle East.”AlMuheleb AlZaidy, Almanasa CEO, said “We are proud to provide our subscribers in Iraq with additional content options from one of the region’s leading video streaming services. Customer delight is at the core of our business and offering value-added offers to our customers underlines this commitment. We believe that STARZPLAY Sports Package, especially Seria A, is an optimum entertainment need for our customers. We hope that they enjoy STARZPLAY’s compelling programming as we continue to evolve our offerings to deliver unmatched experiences to them.”STARZPLAY Sports has the rights to stream the EA Sports Italian Super Cup and SuperCopa Argentina and every match from the Serie A live and exclusive. Sports fans can also enjoy live wrestling, football, cycling, World Championship boxing, UFC, basketball and much more, all available to stream on the platform.  With thousands of hours of premium content including the best western content, Arabic shows, Turkish favourites, anime, and live sports, STARZPLAY is available in 19 countries across the Middle East, North?Africa,?and Pakistan for fans to enjoy quality content anytime, anywhere, and from any device.

Beyond ONE appoints Nisreen Shocair as CEO for Middle East and Africa

Following its recent acquisition of Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa (VMMEA), Beyond ONE™, the TMT-sector (technology, media, telecommunications) investment and operations company, has announced the appointment of Nisreen Shocair as Chief Executive Officer for Middle East and Africa. Overseeing both Virgin Mobile and Friendi Mobile brands in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait, Shocair will be responsible for driving and developing the next phase of the organisation.A bold and seasoned leader spanning geographies and sectors, Shocair has built a career at the intersection of technology, entertainment, fashion, retail and sustainability in United States, UK, Germany and the Middle East. Most recently, she was CEO of YOOX NET-A-PORTER Group in the Middle East. Prior to that, she led the launch of a live streaming shopping network on MBC, the largest media company in the MENA region, a first-mover in shoppable digital content. As President of Virgin Megastore for MENA, Shocair led the organisation’s radical transformation across nine markets. She has also held leadership positions at Viacom, Sony Music, Bertelsmann AG and Hearst.Group CEO of Beyond ONE, Markus Tagger said: “Nisreen is a future-forward thinker and leader with a track record of successful cross-sector transformation and business growth. We are delighted to be working with her as leader on Beyond ONE Middle East and Africa, and our first of many acquisitions in growth markets around the world.”Of her appointment at Beyond ONE, Shocair said: “The number of women leading large tech companies remains a rounding error. With Beyond ONE, we will bring more visibility to the industry for tech talent and entrepreneurs, especially women, both regionally and globally.“We are an equal opportunity employer with a clear vision focused on cultivating and growing talent across multiple sectors and categories - beyond just one telco, beyond just one region and beyond just one vertical. I’m excited to realise a vision that brings creativity, community and connectivity together, while maintaining a great experience, greater personalisation, and even greater hyper-localisation.”VMMEA, a pioneer MVNO in the Middle East has enjoyed considerable success since it was founded in 2006, today serving more than three million users in multiple GCC countries and operating a profitable, industry-leading digital communication platform for both its Virgin Mobile and Friendi Mobile operations.

Zoho grows 10x over 5 years in the UAE since starting operations

Zoho, a global technology company, announced that in the five years since starting its operations in the UAE, which serves as its Middle East and Africa headquarters, the company has grown 10 times in the country, with a 5-year CAGR of 60%. On the sidelines of Zoholics Dubai, the annual user conference of the company, Zoho's CEO and Co-founder, Sridhar Vembu, also announced investment of AED 100 million for expansion in the country.In 2022, Zoho grew by 45% in the UAE, which was the second-highest growing country globally. It has also doubled its employee base in the UAE as well as across the MEA region in the past year, by hiring locally as per its 'transnational localism' policy of being locally rooted while staying globally connected. The partner network in the country grew by 50% in 2022, helping Zoho serve its customers better."As part of our transnational localism strategy, when we expand into a region, we want to give back to the local community and be rooted in the local culture as we grow," said Sridhar Vembu. "Over the past five years, we have invested in local hiring, growing our partner network, adding Arabic support in our products, and integrating with local payment gateways to adapt our solutions for the local market. We will continue to invest in growing our footprints in the country through hirings, upskilling programmes, localisation of products, integrating our solutions with local vendors, and partnering with organisations to help local businesses in their digitalisation efforts."Zoho has partnered with various organisations such as Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) and Dubai Culture in order to make enterprise technology available to businesses of all sizes. It has also partnered with educational institutes like Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) and Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM) to offer upskilling courses. Since 2020, Zoho has helped over 3500 SMEs gain access to its cloud technology through various partnerships, investing AED 20 million in wallet credits. It also invested AED 4.5 million in upskilling initiatives for imparting digital literacy to over 200+ students and 300+ companies."Because of the global economic conditions, more and more companies are moving towards digitalisation and choosing unified platforms that help them break data silos, and bring forth contextual real-time insights that enable them to make quick decisions and be nimble to adapt to changing market conditions. Zoho has its own technology stack that has been built from ground up through relentless R&D over 26 years. We offer a unified platform for all business needs from customer experience and marketing to finance and enterprise collaboration, with our apps being customisable, integrable and extendible. This makes Zoho an ideal choice for businesses of all sizes," added Vembu.The top products leading Zoho's growth in the UAE are Zoho One (a unified platform of over 50 products), Zoho Books (FTA-approved VAT-compliant accounting software), Zoho CRM (customer experience platform), Zoho Workplace (enterprise collaboration platform), and Zoho Creator (low-code development platform). The industries from where the most demand is coming are IT services, wellness/fitness, real estate, manufacturing and retail sectors.Customer QuotePopular Pizza outlet, Papa Johns has been using Zoho's solutions (Zoho People Plus, Zoho Expense and Zoho Creator) to streamline their HR (staff attendance), expense and payroll management across 70+ outlets in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East region. "We finalised Zoho after evaluating several well-known platforms available in the market. It is user-friendly, easy to customise based on our unique needs and compatible with almost all the devises and other software. It also provides a robust security system. Its scalability is amazing as we can continue to expand and grow across the region, while using the same software. I must also say that the team is very supportive and always available when we need them," said Albrey James, Head of HR & Administration, Papa Johns.

Prism Digital wins the Influencer Marketing Account

Prism Digital, one of the leading influencer marketing agencies in Dubai has announced that it has secured the coveted influencer marketing mandate for Indian Superstar Shah Rukh Khan's Abu Dhabi Knight Riders which is a part of the International League T20. The agency has been engaged to manage all the social media, influencer marketing and engagement aspects of the hugely popular event and amplify the reach of one of the most iconic cricket franchises in the ILT20.Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, owned by The Knight Riders Group is competing in the UAE’s first T20 cricket league, the International League T20, also known as the ILT20, is the UAE’s professional-level Twenty20 Cricket League. The inaugural edition of which is taking place in the UAE.The ILT20 has obtained a multi-year ICC approval and the inaugural edition is featuring 84 international and associate cricket stars, as well as 24 local players from the UAE. It follows a 34-match competition being hosted at world-class cricket grounds located in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah.Prism Digital, being the influencer marketing partner of ADKR is going to manage all the social media influencer interactions, the outreach, community management, as well as the engagement and monitoring of the performance of every post shared by the influencers from every event that the ADKR team is participating in as a part of the league.Commenting on the partnership, Lovetto Nazareth, managing director of Prism Digital said, “We are thrilled to have been chosen as the influencer marketing partner for Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, a team at the forefront of the exciting new T20 cricket league in the UAE. This partnership is a testament to our expertise and success in creating impactful and effective influencer campaigns for sporting and musical events, F&B, FMCG, Educational, Medical and Lifestyle brands. We are looking forward to helping Abu Dhabi Knight Riders reach new heights both on social media and on the cricket pitch.”-Ends-

Infopercept appoints Jitendra Bulani as CMO

Infopercept Consulting Pvt Ltd, a global cybersecurity solutions and services company, today announced the appointment of Jitendra Bulani as Chief Marketing Officer.Bulani brings 15 years of global marketing experience at cybersecurity companies. He will be responsible for driving awareness and demand for Infopercept’s offensive security, defensive security and security compliance solutions as well as services globally.Prior to joining Infopercept, Bulani was at Sophos for more than 14 years where he was responsible for public relations and communications in India and SAARC, Middle East and Africa. Bulani was also one of the pioneering members of the global marketing team at Cyberoam, which was later acquired by Sophos.The appointment comes three months after the company announced its CERT-In empanelment and association with National Centre of Excellence for SCADA/OT security acceleration program. “Infopercept is a company that is driven by a purpose, which is to solve real cybersecurity challenges of organizations globally,” said Jaydeep Ruparelia, CEO Infopercept. “We have built solutions, platforms and service packages, which enable us to cover the entire IT landscape of customers under various approaches of cybersecurity like offensive security, DevSecOps, OT security, IOT security, cloud security, security compliance and detection and response.”Excited on the appointment, Ruparelia added, “We were looking for someone with extensive cybersecurity marketing experience to help us amplify our messaging and brand visibility as well as expand our reach globally. We wanted to ensure that our technology has the right kind of messaging so that nothing is lost in translation and we can serve our customers better. Jitendra brings with him a wealth of experience of working with Cyberoam right from when it was a cybersecurity startup to helping it scale up, as well as working with globally structured cybersecurity company like Sophos. With Jitendra on board as CMO, our road map looks very promising, and with his expertise, we are sure to create visibility around our innovations and build Infopercept into a globally recognised cybersecurity brand.”Speaking on his new role, Jitendra Bulani said, “Infopercept is not a company, it is a passion. A group of passionate technology people who have created innovative cybersecurity solutions and services that too all made in India. I am excited to join this company and look forward to working closely with their dynamic team to help Infopercept become a globally recognised brand.”

Gabriela Teissing becomes Creative Dock’s new CEO

Creative Dock, the largest independent corporate venture builder in Europe and MENA is proud to present Gabriela Teissing as its new CEO (Chief Executive Officer). Teissing takes up the position after Martin Pejsa, who remains part of the board in the newly established position of Executive Chairman. Gabriela has been part of the Creative Dock team since 2019, performing the position of Chief Finance Officer and then Chief Operations Officer.“Creative Dock has had a great year in 2022,” says Gabriela Teissing, the new CEO of Creative Dock. “Apart from successful acquisitions of companies in Germany, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic, we also grew in terms of revenue as well as in terms of onboarding new colleagues into our multicultural and international team. Our offices in Berlin, Zurich, Prague, and Riyadh employ more than 600 professionals. For this year, we are planning to grow our revenue by more than 50 percent. We will focus on the regions where we have had the strongest presence up to now, which is mostly the DACH region in Europe and the Middle Eastern countries. Apart from growth, our main objective is to constantly improve the services we provide to our clients. We continue to focus mostly on our traditionally strongest fintech sector, not only in the field of banking but also in various other spheres, such as telecommunications, as well as insurtech, where we often help insurance houses digitize their products and increase mobility, as well as with the implementation of other trends. We have been developing retail and its personalisation processes and taking an active part in technological projects in the manufacturing and construction segment. In terms of internal policy, we have been focusing on developing re-usable products which might allow us to provide our clients with quick service. We have actively been developing our Big Data team and have invested into researching the use of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence. Apart from that, we have been developing our own methodologies through employing new processes and technologies. We continue to strive for onboarding specialists and strengthening our current organizational approach,” says Gabriela Teissing, adding: “We never lose sight of where we’ve come from, our roots which grow out of creativity, curiosity, technology, the entrepreneurial spirit and dedication.”Under the directorship of Teissing, Creative Dock will strive to create companies and products which can be enjoyed by millions of people around the globe, and which might help them in their everyday lives.“I am very excited to be able to lead Creative Dock, an independent leader in Europe and the Middle East in the category of building companies for big firms. So-called corporate venture building is still a young field and provides companies with an alternative to investing into venture capital (VC). According to BCG, the success rate of company venture building is two to three times higher than in the traditional venture capital or corporate venture capital (CVC) sectors,” says Gabriela Teissing.Creative Dock’s new CEO will be fully responsible for fulfilling the company’s strategic and financial objectives. As Chief Executive Officer, Teissing will report to the newly-founded Supervisory Board. In total, ten members of Creative Dock's top management will report to Teissing.Gabriela Teissing started her professional career as a managing partner in the Semma communications agency. Between 2011 and 2016, she worked as part of the French Havas Group, one of the world’s leading communications groups. Over the years, she has held various management-level posts, most recently as the Executive Director of the Hercules Transforming Production company.In 2016, she founded the Dazzle Pictures post-production studio, as well as Rebel & Glory, focusing on virtual reality and digital products.

EIB backs US$150 million Middle East venture capital initiative

The European Investment Bank (EIB), through its new dedicated development finance arm EIB Global, will provide US$27 million participation in the US$150 million Middle East Venture Fund IV (MEVF IV).The new venture capital fund launched by Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP) will increase targeted equity investment in high-growth e-commerce, health and education technology companies across the Middle East and Pakistan.“We welcome EIB Global’s US$27 million anchor investment in the US$150 million MEVF IV that will ensure that growth companies across the Middle East can grow, harness new business opportunities and create thousands of skilled jobs.” said Walid Hanna, Founder and co-CEO of MEVP.For his part, Gelsomina Vigliotti, Vice President of EIB said, “The European Investment Bank recognises the unique role of venture capital and works with leading venture capital partners to unlock high-impact targeted investment that boosts economic growth and ensures that entrepreneurs benefit from growth and innovation best practice.He added, “EIB Global is pleased to be the first anchor investor in the MEVF IV. New equity investment backed by the fund will enable local companies to grow, build on new opportunities for digital commerce, education and healthcare services highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic”Venture capital investment backed by the new fund will enable local companies across the Middle East and Pakistan to harness digital business opportunities unlocked by the pandemic and is expected to support creation of more than 8,000 jobs.Ambassador Christian Berger, Head of the European Union Delegation to Egypt, stated, “The European Union is committed to private sector development in Egypt and across the region. This new cooperation between EIB Global and MEVP will increase the role of technology driven business in the years ahead.”Local innovation companies will benefit 12 years of successful technical and sector investment and hands-on guidance shared by MEVP and the new initiative will scale up long-term investment in early and growth stage companies across the region.Over the last 12 years, Middle East Venture Partners has successfully backed more than 60 technology start-up companies across the Middle East.

The value of an ecosystem in today’s complex cloud environment

The cloud ‘ecosystem’, as it’s called, refers to all these multiple building blocks that make up a cloud operating model, encompassing people, processes, and technology, from vendors to service providers and end users. And, just like a natural ecosystem, the cloud ecosystem is constantly evolving.The latest trend in this evolutionary process will hopefully make the environment less complex for end users, says Andrew Cruise, Managing Director of Routed, a local cloud platform provider and VMware specialist. “Historically, vendors approached the market in a siloed fashion. As complexity has increased, and options have become much more varied for partners and end users, vendors have started integrating their products more. It’s not a new trend or approach, but it is maturing quite rapidly at the moment.”In short, vendors are learning to play nicely together, because the market is forcing them to. “Previously, vendors had a lot more power. Now, there's more choice, and vendors are having to up their game. Microsoft is a good example of this. Historically, they wouldn’t go anywhere near an operating system that wasn’t Microsoft Windows, but they’ve now developed a version of Microsoft SQL Server for Linux. And this is happening right across the market, with big and small vendors,” says Cruise.“Other similar examples include VMware, traditionally an on-premises hypervisor software, branching out into a more multi-cloud approach. Or Veeam, traditionally on-premises backup software, branching out into cloud-based backup and utilising the cloud. Everyone is casting the net a bit wider.”But, as in any ecosystem, some organisms evolve more slowly than others. Cruise says customers should think carefully about how whatever piece of hardware or software is being sold to them fits into the bigger picture. “While vendors should be working together, and most are, customers should be wary of resellers who aren’t telling this ecosystem story. It could mean getting stuck in a silo, restricted by, or locked in with one vendor, if they don't consider how that vendor’s products fit into the cloud ecosystem. Before buying into anything, it’s important to consider how the solutions you choose integrate with others and fit into the bigger picture, and to feel confident that your vendors are talking to each other.”The added bonus is that customers benefit from more skill sharing and a higher level of expertise in this evolving environment. “In South Africa, as in many other countries, we’re seeing a skills drain - experts in the field are moving to international territories or companies because they can offer more competitive packages. But, in this case, it means that customers and partners are in good hands when looking to resellers, service providers and vendors for support. Major vendors are snapping up the best people and centralising the expertise – but this can be beneficial for all the stakeholders in the ecosystem. Whether the provider is VMware, Veeam, or Routed, customers can feel confident that these vendors are talking to each other, and to their partners and providers.”

Saudi Al-Hilal FC Second in FIFA Club World Cup

Al-Hilal FC of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia won the second place in FIFA Club World Cup in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco after losing 5-3 to the Spanish Real Madrid in the final match Saturday.Brazilian Vinicius Junior opened the scoring for Real Madrid in the 13th minute with his teammate Federico Valverde netting another five minutes later.Al-Hilal then changed course when it’s player Moussa Marega took one back in the 26th minute to end the first half 2-1.Spain’s powerhouse Real Madrid continued pushing forward in the second half when Karim Benzema netting for Los Merengues in the 54th minute and four minutes later, Valverde made it 4-1 for the Spanish super club.With a good restart in the second half, Al-Hilal pushed relentlessly forward trying to change course and, in the 63rd minute, Luciano Vietto scored a second goal for the Saudi team.But Real Madrid were keen on keeping the lead until Vinicius scored another in the 69th minute. Al-Hilal's Vietto responded in the 78th minute for his second goal and the third goal for the Saudi team.Accordingly, Real Madrid were crowned champion of FIFA Club World Cup for a record-enhancing fifth time in its history, while the silver medal went for Al-Hilal.

BeIN SPORTS to broadcast huge football events, NBA, & tennis on NSD 2023

 In celebration of National Sport Day that takes place on February 14 this year, beIN SPORTS will leave viewers spoilt for choice when it comes to watching the world’s best athletes competing at the peak of their powers. From the long-awaited return of the UEFA Champions League to a pair of star-studded NBA games and elite-level men’s and women’s tennis at home and abroad, audiences can enjoy a packed day of professional sports alongside their own participation in sports activities throughout the day.UEFA Champions League: PSG v Bayern MunichIn arguably his biggest match since lifting the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in December, Lionel Messi will line-up for PSG intent on helping his teammates such as Neymar and Achraf Hakimi take a step closer towards the club’s maiden – and much-anticipated – Champions League title. Bayern however will be no walk in the Parc des Princes, arriving in the French capital with a European pedigree few other clubs can boast. The six-time European Cup winners are rapid in possession and rabid without, so a fast-paced advert for the beautiful game is near certain. It’s not a match anybody will want to miss.You can watch the live studio coverage before the PSG versus Bayern match kicks-off at 22:00 MECCA in Arabic on beIN SPORTS Premium 1 and beIN 4K, and in English on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 1, leading right up to the opening whistle at 23:00 MECCA.UEFA Champions League: AC Milan v Tottenham HotspurNeither Spurs nor the Rossoneri have found much momentum this season, with both struggling at times domestically. Yet history shows that form can all go out the window when the Champions League music plays. With Tottenham manager Antonio Conte returning to the city where he led Inter to the Scudetto in 2021, a hostile atmosphere surely awaits, and last year’s league champions Milan will be desperate to kick-start a season that is at risk of fading to nothing. Yet with Harry Kane fit and firing and the likes of Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur returning to Italy with a point to prove, a mouth-watering clash awaits.You can watch Milan versus Spurs with Arabic commentary on beIN SPORTS Premium 2 and with English commentary on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 2 at 23:00 MECCA.EFL Championship: Burnley v WatfordHigh-flying Burnley look certain to return to the English Premier League just 12 months after relegation to the Championship. Vincent Kompany’s men sit top of the league after losing just twice in the opening 28 games. They host Watford at Turf Moor looking to extend their lead at the top, while Slaven Bilic’s Hornets – also relegated to the second tier of the English game last season – are themselves looking to secure a place in the playoff positions. Ismaila Sarr will, as ever, be the Watford star to keep an eye on; if anyone can hurt Kompany’s title challengers, it is the Senegal attacker. Yet Jack Cork and Co will have other ideas.You can watch Burnley versus Watford with Arabic commentary on beIN SPORTS Premium 3 and with English commentary on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 3 at 23:00 MECCA.NBA: Denver Nuggets v Miami HeatSet for the Miami-Dade Arena, the Heat and Nuggets should produce an exciting NBA matchup given both teams have eye-catching performers that bring energy and excitement to the basketball court, such as the Heat’s free-throw king Jimmy Butler and Denver’s Serbian centre Nikola Jokic. With the Nuggets sitting top of the Western Conference, they will no doubt enter the game confident, but you can never rule out the effect of a vocal Floridian crowd.You can watch the Nuggets versus Heat with Arabic commentary on beIN SPORTS Premium 3 and with English commentary on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 2 at 03:30 MECCA.NBA: Milwaukee Timberwolves v Dallas MavericksThe two games played earlier this season between the Timberwolves and Mavericks saw them share the spoils as they each captured a win. With the two franchises battling for a playoff spot, the third game is destined to be a thriller with Mavs’ superstar Luka Donicic enjoying a standout season that has him averaging 30+ points per game. On the other hand, Timberwolves’ shooting guard Anthony Edwards is doing what it takes to keep his team in the playoff positions and will be expected to continue in that vain. Who will have the final laugh between these two this season? Only one way to find out…You can watch the Timberwolves versus Mavericks with Arabic commentary on beIN SPORTS 7 at 04:30 MECCA. WTA 500 Qatar TotalEnergies OpenThe second day of Qatar’s WTA 500 event is sure to be busy with a packed line-up that includes, among others, six of the world’s top 10 players. Poland’s World No.1 Iga Swiatek won in Doha last year, marking the start of her incredible undefeated streak, while American duo Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff – World No4 and No6 respectively – return to the scene where they won doubles last year, each looking to add a singles title to their list of career achievements.You can watch the WTA 500 Qatar TotalEnergies Open with Arabic studio coverage on beIN SPORTS 5 starting from 13:30 MECCA and coverage with English commentary on beIN SPORTS ENGLISH 3 from 14:00 MECCA.ATP 500 ABN Amro OpenThe 50th anniversary of Rotterdam’s ATP 500 event has attracted an impressive field at a busy time of year, with last month’s Australian Open finalist and World No.3 Stefanos Tsitsipas joining World No.5 Andrey Rublev and last year’s champion Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada. Andy Murray was forced to withdraw after his exertions in Melbourne, so Tallon Griekspoor, the Netherlands’ second-ranked player, has been handed a wildcard and will be keen to go deep during this most special of occasions for the historic tournament. You can watch the ABN Amro Open with English commentary on beIN SPORTS 6 from 13:30 MECCA.

AI, deep learning models are no substitutes for human creativity, experts assert

 Renowned photographers Elia Locardi, Waleed Shah and Beno Saradzic have turned the spotlight on the impact of new technological trends in photography, including the rise of Web3 and NFT photography at the ongoing International Photography Festival (Xposure).At a discussion titled “Web3, NFT and AI in Photography” hosted at the festival’s newly created activation ‘Stage X’, the panellists agreed that these technologies have opened up a new frontier for selling and collecting digital art. The trio also touched upon the rapidly growing trend of AI and deep learning models, which have the capability of generating photo-realistic images from text prompts.American travel photographer Locardi said, “It is clear that the rise of Web3 and NFT photography, along with AI and deep learning models, are transforming the landscape of photography and the creative industry at large. The impact of these technologies is multifaceted, offering both opportunities and challenges, and it is imperative that we continue to engage in discussions and debates to fully understand and capitalise on their potential.”Slovenian architectural photographer Saradzirc said, “AI and deep learning models are not substitutes for human creativity. They should be viewed as tools that can enhance the creative process. The possibilities are endless, and it's exciting to see where these technologies are headed a few years from now.”Putting forth his opinion, NFT enthusiast Waleed Shah said, “AI, Web3 and NFTs have opened new markets and we must embrace and seize the opportunity. As artists, it provides us with new avenues for monetising our work and reaching new audiences. It's crucial that we address the security and safety concerns surrounding digital assets, but with the right measures in place, the potential for growth and success in these new markets is tremendous.”The panellists emphasised that these technologies, despite their potentially disruptive nature, should be viewed as tools that can augment the creative process, instead of being perceived as substitutes. They noted that while it is still early days, these technologies are likely to become even more sophisticated and will play a crucial role in shaping the future of photography and the way we perceive content at large.The Web3 NFT and AI in photography panel discussion was just one of the many highlights of this year's festival, which will continue to offer insights and perspectives on the latest advancements in everything image until 15th February.

NBADR becomes the first hotel in the region to accept crypto payments

Eazy Financial Services “EazyPay”, Bahrain’s leading and most innovative payment services provider. Announced today that it has signed a payment services agreement with Novotel Bahrain Al Dana Resort, a luxury 4-star beachside hotel in Manama.The agreement was held at Novotel Bahrain Al Dana Resort in the presence of Mr. Amid Yazji “General Manager”, Mr. Muhammad Sohail Jamil “Director of Finance” and From Eazy Financial Services Mr. Nayef Tawfiq Al-Alawi, Founder & CEO, and Mr. Khalid Showaiter Head of Merchant Services & Sales. As part of the agreement, Novotel Bahrain Al Dana Resort will be provided with a series of electronic payment services to help enhance business operations and therefore offer its customers an enhanced experience.These services include providing Novotel Bahrain Al Dana Resort with state-of-the-art Point-of-Sale (POS) Terminals placed at its outlets to accept all types of Debit and Credit cards from Visa & MasterCard, including the acceptance of the latest method of payment using Crypto assets via “Binance App”, which is regulated by the Central Bank of Bahrain, making Novotel Bahrain Al Dana Resort the first Hotel in Bahrain and the region to accept premium payments as crypto assets payments in regulated, secure and extremely fast manner.The benefits of bringing in EazyPay to Novotel Bahrain Al Dana Resort will ensure simple and effective transaction journeys for customers to ensure first-class service.Novotel Bahrain Al Dana Resort’s General Manager, Mr. Amid Yazji commented: “Keeping up with the development of technologies, and our constant desire to provide our valued guests with the highest levels of service, we are thrilled to announce that we are the first hotel in the Kingdom of Bahrain and the region to use the latest digital payment technologies in partnership with Eazy Financial Services “EazyPay”Nayef Tawfiq Al Alawi, Founder & CEO of Eazy Financial Services, expressed his delight saying: “We are very proud today to become the partners of Novotel Bahrain Al Dana Resort, by providing a competitive, and innovative payment services, which makes "EazyPay" the most leading, preferred, and Trusted POS & Online payment Gateway Service Provider in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Forbes Middle East celebrates the Middle East’s 100 Most Powerful Businesswomen

Forbes Middle East has revealed its flagship annual list of the region’s most powerful businesswomen for 2023, ranking the female leaders championing business success in the Middle East and beyond. The list was constructed based on the size of the business, the individual’s impact, achievements, and performance over the last year, and the scope of CSR and other initiatives led by the person.Hana Al Rostamani, Group CEO of the First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), climbed two spots to land first place this year. In June 2022, FAB completed a merger with Bank Audi Egypt under the umbrella of FABMISR, making it one of the largest foreign banks in Egypt, with assets worth $10 billion as of March 2022. Raja Easa Al Gurg, Chairperson and Managing Director of Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, and Lubna S. Olayan, Chair of the Saudi British Bank and Chair of the Executive Committee and Deputy Chair of Olayan Financing Company, rounded up the top three. NBK’s Sheikha Khaled Al Bahar ranks first in Kuwait and fourth regionally. Al Rostamani and Al Gurg were also both recognized on Forbes’ 2022 list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.The 2023 ranking celebrates business titans from 27 different nationalities across 27 sectors. Emirati and Egyptian women dominate the list, with 15 and 12 entries, respectively. They are followed by Saudi with 11 listees, Kuwait with eight, and Lebanon, Oman, and Qatar with six each. Leaders working in the banking and financial services make up 23 of the 100 listees. Diversified conglomerates and the investments industry follow with 11 and eight women, respectively.Three industry disruptors entered the top 10 for the first time: Shaista Asif, Cofounder and Group COO of PureHealth Group; Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Managing Director of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC); and Wadha Ahmed Al-Khateeb, CEO of the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC). Half of the top 10 ranked women work within the banking and financial services industry.Many of the businesswomen on this year’s ranking are placing significant importance on education and empowerment initiatives. The Apparel Group, led by Founder and Chairwoman Sima Ganwani Ved, launched its Digital Learning Academy in October to offer bilingual courses in the GCC. Rawya Mansour, Founder and Chairwoman of RAMSCO, spearheaded a partnership with the National Council for Women to empower women in Africa through an organic farming project and entrepreneurs’ initiative for zero-waste eco-villages. And Hind Bahwan, Founder and Chairperson of Bahwan CyberTek Group, signed an MoU with Dubai’s Heriot-Watt University to offer internships and deep work immersions to students to tackle the growing demand for emerging technologies like AI, ML, and IoT. Top 10 Most Powerful Businesswomen In The Middle East 2023Hana Al RostamaniNationality: EmiratiGroup CEO, FABRaja Easa Al GurgNationality: EmiratiChairperson & Managing Director, Easa Saleh Al Gurg (ESAG)Lubna S. OlayanNationality: SaudiChair of Saudi British Bank; Chair of the Executive Committee and Deputy Chair of Olayan Financing CompanyShaikha Khaled Al BaharNationality: KuwaitiDeputy Group CEO, National Bank of Kuwait GroupRenuka JagtianiNationality: IndianChairwoman, Landmark GroupWadha Ahmed Al-KhateebNEWCOMER TO TOP 10Nationality: KuwaitiCEO, Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC)Sarah Al SuhaimiNationality: SaudiChairperson, Saudi Tadawul GroupHanan Mohamed Al KuwariNEWCOMER TO TOP 10Nationality: QatariManaging Director, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC)Shaista AsifNEWCOMER TO TOP 10Nationality: PakistaniCofounder & Group COO, PureHealth GroupRanda SadikNationality: JordanianCEO, Arab BankTop 5 Women In Banking & Financial ServicesHana Al RostamaniNationality: EmiratiGroup CEO, FABLubna S. OlayanNationality: SaudiChair of Saudi British Bank; Chair of the Executive Committee and Deputy Chair of Olayan Financing CompanyShaikha Khaled Al BaharNationality: KuwaitiDeputy Group CEO, National Bank of Kuwait GroupSarah Al SuhaimiNationality: SaudiChairperson, Saudi Tadawul GroupRanda SadikNationality: JordanianCEO, Arab Bank

The future belongs to those employing data to drive progress & innovation : OAR

Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and the Future and Vice Chair of the World Government Summit (WGS), stressed the importance of data and data protection in shaping future governments and businesses.During a session titled "The Role of Data in Government Development", within the Global Policy Platform, held at the pre-Summit day of the WGS 2023, Al Roumi said that the future belongs to those who succeed in employing data to drive progress and innovation.She confirmed the growing role of data in supporting government decision-making around the world, highlighting the UAE’s successful experience in this field, which positioned the country as the 1st in the Arab world and 25th globally on the Global Knowledge Index for the year 2022.Al Roumi stated, “Thanks to the futuristic vision of our leadership, the UAE has become a global model for establishing effective measures for data protection, through adopting advanced technologies and best practices. This led us to maintain our position as the first in the Arab world for the seventh year in a row on the United Nations E-Government Survey.”She stressed the importance of establishing joint efforts between governments, decision makers, and societies to protect data and enhance data regulations in the evolving digital world.During a session entitled “Data-driven Behavior: Is it a Myth", Raja Al Mazrouei, Managing Director of Etihad Credit Insurance, and Prof. Arturo Bris, Director of IMD World Competitiveness Center, referred to the significant role of the UAE’s legislations in protecting data as high value assets for governments and institutions.Jon Clifton, CEO of Gallup, stated that decision-making is driven by data, highlighting the role of data as a measurable source that reduces errors, and increases proactivity.Yoon-Seok Ko, Executive Principal & Leader of Data Department, National Information Society Agency, (NIA) and Chief, Korea Data Dam Project, Republic of Korea, stressed the importance of promoting data quality as a major factor of businesses success and a main contributor in avoiding budget deficits.

MG Motor sales ends 2022 with 40% growth across the Middle East

MG Motor continues to rise up the rankings in the GCC’s top ten car manufacturers as the brand secured 6th position with an unprecedented sales performance in 2022. The year concluded with MG recording a remarkable 4.7 percent market share. With total sales of 57,506 units, the company’s achievements are particularly impressive considering the competition it faces from rising Chinese brands in the GCC market.This remarkable milestone could not have been achieved without the exceptional support from MG’s dealer network and the aggressive expansion plans the brand has implemented. As a result, the brand now has a total of 49 showrooms in the region, currently open, with 6 new showrooms penciled for opening in H1 2023. The brand has always focused on ensuring the highest standard of customer service, with 4 new facilities opening in H1 of 2023, being added to the 64 state-of-the-art facilities already used by our customers.MG continues with its double-digit growth ever since it kicked off its operations in the Middle East region, as such increasing the brand’s sales by 40%. Now, the brand is one of the top 6 Automotive brands in the region and MG continues to lead with large increases in market shares across the GCC. With MG5 and MGZS being the best-performing models across the year. Customers have shown their appreciation of the British-born brand’s products.Tom Lee, Managing Director of MG Motor’s Middle East operations, commented: “MG has recorded another year of extraordinary growth in the region despite the ambitious goals we have set for ourselves and the slew of new competitors. The growing awareness, popularity and desire for the MG brand has been really evident as we have maximized accessibility to the brand for customers across our nine markets, and as we look to introduce two new markets in Q1 of this year.”Mr Mohsin Hani Al Bahrani, CEO, MHD ACERE, said “It has been a tremendous performance by MG in the region and my hearty congratulations to the team. We are equally proud that Oman has been a significant contributor to this growth story. With the highest market share growth of 8.2%, MG today stands as the 2nd largest car brand in Oman. We are confident this momentum will continue in to 2023”.   Furthermore, MG will continue to enhance its services as it tends to its customer’s needs, while its 10 years / unlimited km warranty on all models, combined with exceptional offers available to new and current customers, will ensure complete peace of mind.

Cenomi Retail reports stable revenues

Cenomi Retail, Saudi Arabia’s pioneering retail brand partner, today announced its results for the third quarter and nine-month (9M) period of FY2023, ending 31 December 2022 (Q3-FY23 and 9M-FY23). The company reported revenues of SAR 1,460 million, and SAR 4,538 million, respectively, with gains in KSA supported by a renewal in consumer sentiment and a solid international retail performance. The positive top line performance was diluted by the accounting adjustment related to the four exited F&B brands.As the company strategically aligns its business with Champion Brands and operating excellence, several key milestones on its transformation journey were successfully achieved during the period. This includes the strategic brand rationalization program, with the goal of divesting 26 non-strategic brands, four of which have already been exited. This is expected to impact revenues by approximately SAR 288 million, while boosting profits by SAR 25 million once the program is completed. The company also confirmed its ongoing commitment to growing its F&B footprint, by completing the acquisition of 30 directly operated Subway stores in Saudi Arabia to add to its franchisee portfolio. Further store openings will support Champion Brands Subway and Cinnabon in 2023. In addition, a recent staff optimization review, in the head office and stores, led to downsizing of 15% of the HQ headcount, delivering an annualized saving of SAR 50 million. Importantly, the company continues to add to its leadership team, with the appointment of the new Chief Technology and Information Officer to drive system wide digitalization and efficiency.In line with Cenomi Retail’s continued focus on optimizing its operations and effectively managing its inventory levels, the company recorded a one-off inventory charge of SAR 290 million during Q3-FY23, adjusting for which would result in a net profit figure of SAR 91 million, thus representing an increase of 10% YoY. The company adopted a conservative approach to addressing inventory balances that were realigned following the ongoing store closures as well as extra ordering driven by concerns over the global supply chain bottlenecks. Furthermore, in an effort to support the transformation program and brand rationalization initiative, the company accounted for additional provisions to pave the way for its brand exit strategy. With these conditions now largely past, the resulting one-off inventory charge is not expected to have further financial or operational impact.Mohamad Mourad, Interim Chief Executive Officer at Cenomi Retail said: “Our successful rebranding, the acceleration of our transformation program, and the initiation of our strategic divestment program come together to improve profitability, as we focus on aligning our business with Champion Brands, investing in F&B growth and successful international markets. With these measures, we are now ready to embark on a new phase of growth and development for Cenomi Retail."“The country’s transformative initiatives and progressive vision aligns perfectly with our goal of being the leading retail brand partner in the Kingdom, whilst remaining committed to expanding our international footprint in key strategic growth markets and strengthening our digital capabilities.”Ahmed Belbesy, Chief Financial Officer at Cenomi Retail commented: “Our Q3 financial results were supported by revival in demand in the domestic market and a strong performance from our international portfolio. This, together with the focus on optimizing our operations and inventories, provides a more stable and assured footing for the business. We have made great progress on settling legacy related party receivables and have already received payments of nearly SAR 270 million, which will be reflected in our financial statements for the upcoming quarter. Furthermore, we have appointed advisors to undertake a comprehensive reassessment of the balance sheet and restructure our debt to provide a solid platform to fuel our growth.”  9M-FY23 Highlights – top-line stability aided by online channels and international portfolioCenomi Retail recorded a revenue of SAR 1,460 million in Q3-FY23 compared to SAR 1,466 million in Q3-FY22. This result was due to the exit of four brands as part of the brand rationalization program that saw a 25% YoY decline in F&B revenues, as the full impact of discontinued operations was reflected in the third quarter. Revenue for 9M-FY23 was broadly flat at SAR 4,538 million, as a result of the decline in F&B sales, which has largely offset the positive impact from the international portfolio.Saudi retail revenues were relatively unchanged at SAR 1,035 million in Q3-FY23, supported by early signs of a pickup in consumer sentiment and demand in the Kingdom. For 9M-FY23, revenues amounted to SAR 3,309 million, a YoY decrease of 2%. Taking into account the exited brands, Saudi retail, and in particular fashion and apparel, have returned to growth, which bodes well for the remainder of the year.International retail operations continued to thrive, with revenues of SAR 326 million in Q3-FY23, up 9% YoY, and SAR 877 million in 9M-FY23, up 13% YoY, with Jordan and the CIS countries maintaining their positive momentum. Cenomi Retail is still focusing on growing its market share in key growth markets across the globe.F&B segment recorded a decline in revenues of 25% YoY to SAR 99 million in Q3-FY23 from SAR 131 million in Q3-FY22, with a net closure of 75 stores during the quarter, including 58 store closures of the four exited brands. For 9M-FY23, F&B revenues amounted to SAR 352 million, decreasing 5% YoY. This was due to Cenomi Retail’s brand rationalization program, which saw the exit of Azal restaurants and Shawarma Almuhalhel, translating to a revenue impact of SAR 46 million in Q3. During the period, the company completed the acquisition of 30 Subway stores (sub franchisor) across the Kingdom, and is looking to add a further 17 stores, in addition to 15 new Cinnabon outlets, which are scheduled for opening in 2023. Cenomi Retail will continue to explore the introduction of novel and distinctive concepts that are intended to meet the rapidly shifting needs of today's consumers.Inventory optimization measures have continued during the period, with a one-off charge of SAR 290 million. Adjusting net profit for this impact, would result in an amount of SAR 91 million in 9M-FY23, a YoY growth of 10%. Inventory levels have dropped by over 40% from SAR 1.7 billion to SAR 1 billion, thus allowing the business to grow from a more efficient base.

Epson MENA leader predicts megatrends in the future of work until 2030

In helping organizations across the MENA region plan and achieve their objectives, subject matter experts at Epson are delivering insight into the megatrends that will influence the world of work until 2030.They have identified four key areas that are driving business growth in the region’s public and private sectors: automation, collaboration, sustainability, and continued learning.“Businesses across the Middle East must formulate measurable plans to capitalise on these megatrends and be ready for the workplace of 2030. By building tech-driven and human-centered cultures, headed by purposeful and visionary people who can drive sustainable business operations, the region will develop more diverse economies that incorporate the talents of nationals within each market,” said Neil Colquhoun, Vice President – CISMETA, Epson.In the automation space, Epson anticipates scenarios from physical automation using SCARA robots that manufacture and assemble, to virtual automation using software robots to manage repetitive office tasks. For industrial organizations, this trend will be seen in techniques such as distributed production, and in office environments, it will see swathes of admin staff redeployed. Robotic process automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will be managing tasks including invoices, training and on-boarding staff.Following increased automation, Epson sees ideas as the future’s most important assets, with real-life innovation being achieved through collaboration and sharing. Hybrid meetings will continue to play a crucial role in creating a space for collaboration, and Continued innovation in versatile display tools, such as projectors will help to bridge the gap between people working remotely and those in the office. Scaling the experience, by showing life-size projections of remote participants ensures equal stature and greater presence – all of these opportunities encourage collaboration. Recognizing that the world’s resources are finite, and the human brain and body have limitations, Epson places sustainability at the heart of successful work until 2030. Beyond just reducing energy water consumption, trends include investing in communities, start-ups and partners that will lead to greater success, and committing to supporting a sustainable society through open partnerships and co-operations, working with charitable organisations and reducing underground resource dependency, are all ways that Epson sees the MENA region increasing its sustainability in the coming decade. With the need for job creation across the GCC and Levant, Epson forecasts that skill development and a serious commitment to continued learning will be vital to meeting the workforce demands of the future. The region’s emerging workforce will be one that is data literate, comfortable working with AI and robots, and has the initiative to look at what the future demands in terms of skills so that they can keep pace with evolving technology.“Epson’s forecasting of what work will look like in 2030 contains some important certainties: Automation will continue to become commonplace; organizations without a purpose and a sustainability strategy will face increased scrutiny, and finding and keeping the right people for the job will get harder,” added Colquhoun. “Heightened connectivity, unprecedented automation, shifting regional demographics, and an increasing focus on people, purpose and values create an unprecedented opportunity for both governments and the private sector to anticipate and prepare for the world of work in 2030 and beyond.”

Saudi Tadawul Group signs Singapore, Egypt & Qatar MoUs

Saudi Tadawul Group today opened the annual Saudi Capital Market Forum 2023, held under the patronage of Mohammed El-Kuwaiz, the Chairman of the Capital Market Authority (CMA). A highlight of the agenda is a series of strategic agreements with regional and international Exchanges, designed to further establish an advanced, integrated capital market infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, as well as drive innovation across global capital markets.Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, the strategic MoUs span several key areas to foster collaboration among regional and international Exchanges. The MoUs will focus on sharing data and knowledge and collaborating across ESG, fintech. The Exchanges will also work to enable dual and cross listings with the aim of fostering further collaboration between their markets.Khalid Al Hussan, CEO of Saudi Tadawul Group said: “Our aim is to collaborate with regional and international exchanges on areas ranging from dual listing, ESG, fintech, diversity and inclusion to achieve our goal of becoming an investment destination linking East and West. These agreements will also further our efforts to deliver an advanced, diverse, and integrated capital market for regional and international investors, in line with the Financial Sector Development Program under Vision 2030.”The Saudi Capital Market Forum brings together over 2,000 issuers, investors, and other market participants for two days of dialogue dedicated to advancing regional capital markets. The event is a key calendar moment for the finance industry, regionally and globally.Details of each MoU:Singapore Exchange (SGX)The agreement with SGX will form working teams to explore dual-listing opportunities; look at collaborative opportunities across product portfolios, indices, and derivatives trading; and unlock opportunities surrounding fintech advancements.The Egyptian Exchange (EGX)The agreement with EGX will explore areas including product collaboration; sharing data, research and best-practice; knowledge transfer, dedicated training and potential secondments; specialized marketing initiatives directed at companies looking to list, as well as enhance investor education; advancement of ESG standards; improve industry diversity and inclusion.Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE)The agreement with QSE will look to establish working teams to promote knowledge transfer, share data and research; explore fintech product collaboration opportunities; work towards an agreement on cross-listing; advance ESG standards; share key learnings and best practice, among other key strategic areas.

Mitgo launches Takeads

Recent years have seen the debate around the use of user data in digital advertising intensify - and it seems that now a decision has finally been made. Along with this, the global native advertising market is growing at an explosive rate. Mitgo, a leading player in the MarTech and AdTech markets, has responded to these market trends with the launch of Takeads, a privacy-first and entirely cookieless platform that brings a user-centric approach to native advertising in the MENA region.Cookies, user data and tracking software - previously the mainstay of online and digital advertising - are on their way out. The introduction of stringent new legal restrictions and data protection guidelines around the globe have seen to this - and industry leaders such as Apple and Google are having to re-write their own policies in response to new GDPR rules.Ethics aside, the business case for advertising that tracks private data such as gender, age or location is also in decline. Due in part to users, frustrated by these advert types, becoming wiser to how trackers work and taking steps to actively protect their own personal data from them, this method of online advertising is no longer as effective as it once was.At the very same time, native advertising is experiencing hypergrowth. In 2021, the global native advertising market was worth $85 billion. By 2028, Business Research Insights predicts this will reach $189.5 billion.Native advertisements do not appear like conventional ads. Far less obtrusive, more organic and content-relevant, they do not interfere with how users interact with a page or its content.According to advertising platform Outbrain, “Native advertising is considered the least intrusive form of advertising” - a form which increases purchase intent by 18%, boosts conversion rates by 3x and drops CPA by at least 35%.Mitgo, a leading MarTech firm, began working on its native advertising offering five years ago. Now launched, Takeads - a privacy-first native advertising platform - will take advantage of both of these important market shifts.Takeads is one of the first global native advertising networks to be truly privacy-centric. Completely cookieless, it delivers targeted ads using zero personal information or behavioural tracking data. Takeads’ analytical algorithm is based on content analysis, not user data. It analyses text, links and photos within a website and its subpages and accurately targets site visitors with native advertising messages in ad formats which correspond to the content itself.“Behavioural targeting and ad profiling based on personal interests are definitely out of step with modern privacy standards”, says Pawe Mazurek, a digital marketing and advertising expert with 20 years of experience in the field and Head of Takeads at Mitgo.“With Takeads, we will move users away from irritating, content-disrupting advertising and reach a native advertising Zen state, where content and ads work together, reaching relevant users in relevant times and places, raising only interest, awareness and positive reactions. All that while respecting users privacy and being in-line with newest regulations”.Takeads' goal is to eliminate intrusive and irritating advertising formats, replacing them with native, non-invasive, content-relevant advertising messages which match the interests of a given user at a given moment.“Rather than brute-forcing customers with flashy ads to get their attention, Takeads gently invites them into the brand conversation,” states Pawel Mazurek.Takeads is currently active in more than 10 countries across three continents and services more than 35,000 publishing websites and 120,000 advertising offers.“The native advertising market is growing, and we intend to provide a valuable service for advertisers outside of Affiliate Marketing and give large sites and search services an opportunity to boost revenues while taking a privacy-first approach,” says Alexander Bachmann, CEO of Mitgo.Since its launch, Takeads has experienced a surge in requests from webmasters to move away from user data-driven marketing. It now delivers millions of valuable, purchase-leading clicks daily, helping platform and project owners in the MENA region to access new revenue streams while avoiding content-disrupting advertising strategies.

Inter Emirates Motors and MG Motor UAE sales ends 2022 with 100% growth

MG Motor through its local distributor Inter Emirates Motors (IEM), a subsidiary of Ali & Sons Holding LLC, continues to rise up the rankings in the UAE’s top ten car manufacturers as the brand secured 8th position with an unprecedented sales performance in 2022. The year concluded with MG recording a market share of 3 percent. The company’s achievements are particularly impressive considering the competition it faces from established automotive brands as well as rising Chinese brands in the UAE market.The remarkable milestone for MG Motor could not have been achieved without the exceptional support from Inter Emirates Motors and the aggressive expansion strategies the brand has implemented to improve its offerings. As a result, the brand now has a total of five showrooms in the country, currently open, with a new showroom in Fujairah scheduled to open during the first quarter of 2023.IEM has always focused on ensuring the highest standard of customer satisfaction, which is why they have three service centers in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah with a fourth that is scheduled to be launched during the second quarter of 2023 in Al Quoz in Dubai.Mohamed Al Daheri, Managing Director of the Motors Division in Ali & Sons Holding LLC, said: “Over the past year, our goal was to re-introduce the MG brand to people that reside in the UAE and we have surpassed all expectations we had for ourselves. We certainly had a wonderful 2022 but we know that the best is yet to come. For 2023, we will continue to focus on our customers by providing them with exceptional value at every touch point. We plan to continue to open showrooms and service centres across the UAE as part of our national commitment to customers in the UAE.”Hisham El Sahn, General Manager of Inter Emirates Motors, said: “We believe in putting the customer first and ensuring that the quality of products and services offered by IEM & MG are both considerably high and of great value-for-money. We believe that it is this commitment to our customers that has enabled us to become a top-of-mind brand for customers when they are choosing to invest in their next automobile and look forward to continue to achieve consistent growth now and in the future.”Regionally, MG continues with its double-digit growth ever since it kicked off its operations in the Middle East, as such increasing the brand’s sales by 40%. Now, the brand is one of the top 6 Automotive brands in the region and MG continues to lead with significant increases in market shares across the GCC. With MG5 and MGZS being the best performing models across the year, customers have deservingly shown their appreciation of the British-born brand’s products.Tom Lee, Managing Director of MG Motor’s Middle East operations, commented: “MG has recorded another year of extraordinary growth in the region despite the ambitious goals we have set for ourselves and the slew of new competitors. The growing awareness, popularity and desire for the MG brand has been really evident as we have maximised accessibility to the brand for customers across our nine markets, and as we look to introduce two new markets in Q1 of this year.”In response to the growing popularity of MG and the increasing demand for its vehicles in the UAE, IEM and SAIC Motor Middle East have decided to expand the MG fleet and introduce four new models to the market in 2023. This demonstrates the commitment of having MG stay ahead of the competition whilst providing its customers with the best value possible. Additionally, the growing number of satisfied MG and IEM customers in the UAE are becoming vocal advocates for the brand, further boosting reputation and popularity of both the automaker and its local distributor in the region.MG will continue to enhance its services as it tends to its customer’s needs, while its 6 years / 200,000 km warranty on all models, combined with exceptional offers available to new and current customers, will ensure peace of mind in difficult times.

Mobily wraps up LEAP 2023 with new partnership announcements

As LEAP 2023 wraps up, Mobily unveils a new series of agreements and partnerships across a wide range of technology fields, including cloud centers, digitalization, and cybersecurity as well as presenting their Digital Hub initiative.Thousands of delegates, experts and industry leaders attended the last day of the Kingdom’s mega-event, which envisioned the future of technology and provided a platform for new products and solutions.Highlights on day four for Mobily are announcements of new Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with companies such as Tata Consulting Services, Cisco AWS and many more.Digital Hub initiativeDuring the conference, Mobily presented its Digital Hub initiative, which enhances the Kingdom's position as the first regional hub. The center also includes an integrated system of submarine cables that connect the world from east to west, in addition to Terrestrial networks, data centers, landing stations, and the JED1 IX International Neutral Internet Exchange in partnership with Equinix.M. Thamer Al-Fadda, Senior Vice President, Wholesale and Carrier Services, said: "During the past few days in LEAP, we have signed a number of agreements with our partners, through which we look forward to achieving our goal of enhancing digital infrastructure and improving customer experience. In carriers and operators’ sector, we have invested to provide a diversified portfolio of services and solutions for expanding the local and international infrastructure. In addition to building new partnerships to achieve sustainable growth in the communications and information technology sector.”CiscoMobily inked a new 3 year-long collaboration with Cisco Systems Company to leverage the latter’s managed Security Services to cement the company’s infrastructure and offering. The agreement aims to maximize Mobily’s cybersecurity capabilities through enhanced monitoring and incident response, in addition to deploying cybersecurity content and platform management and threat Hunting solutions as well as identity and access management and Cybersecurity Infrastructure Management, which will all further accelerate the company’s operation excellence.Commenting on the agreement, Bader Alasoos, SVP, Mobily Cybersecurity department, said: “Mobily Cybersecurity department with Cisco Systems team have jointly worked on developing state of the art SOC services model, leveraging latest in technology and internally developed security content and best practices. The Security Operations delivery model caters for Mobily infrastructure growth and address challenges of Cybersecurity in our strategic IT, cloud and Telecom ventures aligned with Kingdoms 2030 vision.”Mohammed Tantawi, General Manager of Cisco Systems, said: “The next 3 years of Mobily and Cisco partnership are filled with exciting new initiatives that will transform Mobily’s Security and detection systems, developing new capabilities that will help early detection and comprehensive response to security incidents, enhance user experience for corporate and Mobily customers when interacting with digital platforms.”TCSTata Consulting Services (TCS) and Mobily signed an agreement, which will see both TCS and Mobily work hand-in-hand to develop a remote center in Jizan. The development of the center will also open up new job opportunities for local Saudi talent and benefit from low attrition, low running costs and a long running relationship with the region.The development of the center will see Mobily becoming an anchor customer with TCS for a fixed committed business. The investment will deploy a Six Sigma process consultant that will further optimize and automate the business process.Amazon Web ServicesMobily has signed an agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to become an Advanced Partner in Saudi Arabia. As part of the agreement, Mobily will establish an AWS Cloud Center of Excellence staffed with AWS-trained and certified Mobily personnel. The collaboration is in line with Mobily's aim to accelerate the digitization of the Saudi enterprise market. It includes launching a portfolio of cloud services, such as Edge Cloud solutions, Private 5G, and industry 4.0 solutions, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) services.Omar Al-Rasheed, Chief Strategy and Digitalization Office of Mobily, Said: "Mobily's partnerships with hyperscalers are essential to move up the ICT value chain and accelerate the journey of enterprise digital transformation. We are excited to collaborate with AWS, which has a wide range of edge services for enterprises, the largest developer community, and the biggest market share in IaaS. Building on both parties' joint capabilities would indeed unlock new opportunities and possibilities."RedhatMobily and Redhat have signed an agreement to build a strategic partnership to enhance digital transformation. Through the deal, Mobily will build a horizontal native cloud with a simple architecture that will support 5G functions. This includes 5G SA, vRAN, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The cloud system will further accelerate Mobily's innovations and form the basis for digital transformation with the help of automation, security and freedom, while also providing flexibility to choose the right technology as required.

Medialinks wins Straumann UAE’s digital media agency mandate

Medialinks, the leading digital agency focused on Performance, Ecommerce, and SEO, is proud to announce their recent win of the ClearCorrect account. ClearCorrect – an invisible aligner company, is a subsidiary of The Straumann Group, a dental company with a global reputation for delivering high-quality products and services.ClearCorrect Aligners are now available in the UAE, thanks to the partnership with Al Hayat Pharmaceuticals. This strategic partnership will help ClearCorrect reach a wider audience, making their products more accessible to people in the UAE who are looking for a solution to straighten their teeth and improve their oral health and appearance."At The Straumann Group, we are dedicated to providing high-quality dental products that improve the lives of people, with the launch of our Orthodontic Aligner portfolio ClearCorrect in UAE, we aim to revolutionise the market with our innovative products" said Miss. Gunjan Gupta, Head of Ortho – MEA at The Straumann Group."ClearCorrect is a global leader and offers clear aligners that are loved by consumers, leveraging Straumann's research and experience to deliver high-quality products. With the launch of ClearCorrect in the UAE, people in the region now have access to an effective solution for improving their oral health and appearance.” said Dr. Khalid Yaghi at Al Hayat Pharmaceuticals.The partnership between Medialinks and ClearCorrect will focus on creating a strong online presence and increase brand awareness, ultimately driving sales and growth for ClearCorrect in the region.In conclusion, the launch of ClearCorrect in the UAE is a major milestone for Straumann Group, Al Hayat Pharmaceuticals, and Medialinks."We are honoured to be a part of this exciting launch and bring our expertise in digital marketing to the table," said Zeeshan Sajid Amin, CEO of Medialinks. "Our goal is to create a strong online presence for ClearCorrect and help increase brand awareness, driving sales and growth in the region."

Ilyas Habibali and Michael Wakeling promise Unmissable Night of Kickboxing

The UAE Muay Thai and Kickboxing Federation has promised an unmissable UAM Fight Night K1 Pro at Etihad Arena tomorrow, February 11. Headlined by the hotly anticipated fight between Great Britain’s Michael Wakeling “The Punisher” and UAE champion Ilyass Habibali, the event will include international 28 male and female fighters from different countries, competing across various weight classes.Ahead of the event, the medical examination and weighing stages for all participants were completed on Friday, at the Yas Island Rotana Hotel, where the participating international delegations are staying. The UAE Muay Thai and Kickboxing Federation also held a press conference that was attended by Fahad Alabdouli, Director of Sports Activities at UAE Muaythai and Kickboxing Federation and Carlos Ramjanali, WAKO PRO CFO/Business Development and External Relations Director, EMEA. Additionally, Habibali and Wakeling  attended the press conference at Yas Island on Friday, discussing their individual preparations, aspirations, and promising kickboxing fans an unforgettable fight inside the Etihad Arena tomorrow. For his part, Fahad Alabdouli, Director of Sports Activities at UAE Muaythai and Kickboxing Federation said: “We are pleased to organise the UAM Fight Night K1 Pro championship with the participation of the world’s elite professionals, in cooperation with the International Kickboxing Federation.” Expressing his deepest thanks and gratitude to the wise leadership for its continuous support and endorsement of the sports development process. “The championship is the result of the directives and support of Abdullah Saeed Al Neyadi, Chairman of the UAE Muaythai and Kickboxing Federation, President of the Arab Muay Thai Federation and Vice President of the Asian Federation.” He added “the event is a main component the agenda of the Federation's activities, which constantly aspires to enhance activities and events that will enhance Abu Dhabi’s standing as one of the most sought-after combat sports destinations.”He also stressed that all the preparations for the event have been completed, and they are looking forward to an exceptional tournament distinguished from all aspects and wishing the participants all the best.”Carlos Ramjanali, WAKO PRO CFO/Business Development and External Relations Director, EMEA said: “It’s a pleasure to be in Abu Dhabi. This sport is becoming even more popular across Asia and a special thank you to the UAEMKF for their huge support for our sport. Tomorrow night we will see a mix of established stars and the next generation as we continue our mission to develop the sport and give a platform for future stars.“Since 2018 we have been part of the Olympic family and hopefully this year, we will achieve our goal to be included in the Olympics. Events such as this will only help showcase what our community and sport stand for: transparency, commitment, a clean sport, development pathways for future athletes.”Commenting on his participation in the championship, Ilyass Habibali, who first caught the eye of the international kickboxing community in 2018 by winning gold at that year’s IFMA World Championships in Mexico, said: “I promise I will keep the victory here in Abu Dhabi. I know Michael will want to take the title back to the UK, but it will be staying here for the fans, and for the UAE.” Wakeling, a three-time Enfusion, IKF, and WMC world champion, added: “It’s a real pleasure to be here to show what I can do, and fight in Abu Dhabi for the first time. I’ve been doing a lot of K1 drills in preparation, and I think I’ve got the tools to win on Saturday night. I know Ilyas is a strong fighter, but I know I have what it takes to victory.”éndez-as-general-manager

NH Collection Oasis Doha hotel appoints Daniel Méndez as General Manager

NH Collection Oasis Doha Hotel is delighted to announce the appointment of Daniel Méndez as General Manager of the hotel and beach club, ahead of its opening early in 2023.A Spanish national, Daniel possesses close to two decades of executive management experience with NH Hotels part of Minor Group. Méndez has taken several progressive career steps that expanded the depth of his knowledge.With a focus on exceptional guest satisfaction and operational efficiency, Daniel’s executive career started in his native Madrid followed by an assignment in Capetown as General Manager of NH The Lord Charles.A passionate hotelier, Méndez has a proven track record in leading change to impact performance. His extensive career took him to 3 different continents in roles where he ensured that, not only his guests are very well looked after, but that his team members are cared for, inspired to grow and developed.Méndez previouly led two notable NH Collection projects, the NH Collection Flower Market and NH Museum Quarter in Amsterdam as Cluster General Manager and NH Collection Brussels Grand Sablon, contributing to maintain their market leader status.With his ample knowledge of luxury hotel management, Daniel will further enhance NH Collection Oasis Doha Hotel positioning regionally and globally.NH Collection Oasis Doha Hotel will welcome guests to exceptional hospitality. The new property will feature a selection of signature food and beverage venues, including restaurants with indoor and al fresco seating, two lounges and a relaxing pool bar. Other hotel facilities will include a fully-equipped fitness centre, a kids’ club, NH Collection Spa, four padel courts and a relaxing rooftop lounge with impressive views of Doha skyline.Feel the extraordinaryAt NH Collection hotels, guests can enjoy some extraordinary Brilliant Basics, the elements which shape the basic proposal of the rooms in these reference hotels: exclusive NH Collection Sleep Better mattresses, a wide selection of pillows, exclusive amenities, rain-effect showers, as well as LED TVs and complete tea and coffee sets in all rooms.NH Collection Oasis Doha Hotel will join an existing portfolio of over 70 NH Collection properties worldwide, known for their outstanding service and facilities. NH Collection hotels can be found in top city locations across Europe and the Americas.

‘Be Inclusive’: Global business gurus tell LEAP23 attendees to seek BD

LEAP23, the world’s most visionary technology event, finished its four-day run in Riyadh on Thursday with Steven Bartlett, the Botswana-born British entrepreneur, and Baroness Karren Brady CBE expounding the importance of diversity and inclusion to create a successful business.Bartlett is a best-selling author and produces Diary of a CEO, one of the world’s most-downloaded podcast series. During a session inside the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Conference Centre, the 31-year-old discussed the rapid pace of change and, citing former US President Barack Obama, the importance of building a team representative of a diverse world.“We both spoke at a conference in Sao Paulo and he said to Brazil: If you are not inclusive as a country, all you are doing is punishing yourself because you are leaving your talent off the field,” Bartlett said. “If you leave people off the field, you have a blind spot – as a country, as a business, in any project you a building. It is a competitive advantage to be inclusive in the boardroom when key decisions are made because if you are not, you are only hurting yourself.”The same premise of diversity works when it comes to the creation and innovation process, said Bartlett, who is the youngest-ever investor on hit British TV show Dragons’ Den.“There are five of us on the panel, but only one mother, so if an entrepreneur was pitching a product for mothers and she wasn’t there, it would be very easy to see how we could end up deploying our capital without fully understanding the problem the product is trying to solve,” he told attendees during a fireside discussion. “If you want to build something that is representative of the world – whether it’s in VR, AI, or whatever – you need to make sure the data going in is truly representative or you’ll be disadvantaged because you’ll create imbalanced products that don’t fully represent the market.”Continuing the theme of diversity in the workplace, Brady – the first female managing director of a top-flight English football club and the youngest MD of a British private limited company – said that even while women continue to play catch-up in terms of the gender pay-gap, the benefits of having women in positions of power cannot be overstated.“For every £1 a man makes, a woman makes 86p,” said Brady, returning to LEAP for a second consecutive year. “But now you can see women changing the course; they understand their worth and are prepared to step outside their comfort zone and show determination to get the career they want. Women are great in leadership roles. They galvanise a collective spirit, they manage people’s hearts and minds. They bring those things together, see opportunities, and work in a collaborative way. And because of that we are seeing more and more women getting seats around that table.”LEAP23 also culminated in the finale of DeepFest, a new co-located event held in partnership with the Saudi Data & Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA). Themed AI Beyond Imagination, DeepFest gathered drivers of the global AI ecosystem to unveil multi-sector initiatives to home in on AI implementation in areas such as clean tech, the Metaverse, women in technology, robotics, and more.The final day of DeepFest saw Luc Vincent, VP Engineering & Product Group Lead for AI at Meta, enthral audiences with an exclusive look at next-generation AR glasses and cognitive AI technology in a keynote session entitled: AI for Augmented Reality.“We believe that AR glasses can potentially help billions of people around the world and be more useful than the smartphones we carry in our pockets today. The potential of AR glasses for egocentric experiences is unlimited,” said Vincent. “AR glasses can unlock communications and instant translation, enable voice-command photography and smart capture, heighten location services, and enable numerous other smart actions.“In time, AR glasses will start to recognise context in different situations and notify the user of high-value moments. AR glasses will learn your goals and prompt smart reminders for shopping lists, birthday presents, remembering important documents, and so on. We call this cognitive AI. It’s incredible and the surface has only been scratched - but the key tech to enable all these experiences is AI.”

Mozn joins forces with Deloitte to fight financial crime and bolster regulation

Mozn, a market leader in enterprise AI technologies, announced today during LEAP23 a strategic partnership with Deloitte, the globally leading professional services organization, to combat financial crime, bolster regulation, and empower the financial services industry in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, and North Africa to mitigate risks.The partnership which was formalized in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), was signed between both organizations and strives to transform the finance digital reg-tech, risk, anti-money laundering (AML), and compliance space. Mozn's pioneering AI-powered financial crime prevention suite FOCAL is already being utilised by many esteemed customers in the MENA region for AML screening, transaction monitoring, risk scoring, and compliance case management. Mozn's capabilities will combine with Deloitte's deep expertise in reg-tech advisory and consulting to offer cutting-edge solutions, advisory and consulting across the region’s financial sector, from banking to fintech to capital markets and insurance.“The rapid growth in digitalization has inevitably created opportunities for financial crime. As such the risk and compliance functions are now faced with the challenge of staying up to date with the constantly changing regulatory landscape and protecting organizations from potential frauds, money laundering and other financial crimes,” said Malik AlYousef, Chief Operations Officer at Mozn. “Our partnership with Deloitte strengthens our trust with customers to help them monitor and mitigate that risk. Through this collaboration, we will bring together a wealth of resources to offer state-of-the-art advisory and best-in-class solutions in the risk, compliance and AML space for all types of companies across the financial sector."“Our strategic relationship with Mozn will bring together the best technology solutions and resource capabilities to help firms in combatting financial crime”, said Steve Punch, Financial Risk and Regulatory Partner at Deloitte. “As firms look to invest in new functionality with increased accuracy and efficiency, the combination of Mozn and Deloitte will bring the best reg-tech services to our clients,” added Punch.Fighting money laundering is also essential to creating a business-friendly environment – a must for the MENA region as it builds its reputation as a leading global financial and business hub. A positive AML rating can have a significant encouraging economic impact on a nation’s credit rating and its ability to attract foreign investments. FOCAL is fast redefining the fight against financial crime offering a comprehensive suite of products that leverage powerful AI and machine learning technology to answer the challenges of AML compliance and Fraud Prevention in Emerging Markets. The AI-driven platform has access to more than 1,300 up-to-date global and local sanctions, and PEP (politically exposed person) lists for risk management and provides flexible Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that enable the automatic processing of thousands of screenings every day with seamless onboarding and scalable integration capabilities.

NetApp announces new line of low-cost, capacity flash storage for the modern DC

 NetApp, a global, cloud-led, data-centric software company, today announced the upcoming availability of the NetApp AFF C-Series, a new family of capacity flash storage options that deliver lower cost all-flash storage, and NetApp AFF A150, a new entry-level storage system in the AFF A-Series family of all-flash systems.The new NetApp AFF C-Series delivers flash performance, while remaining cost-effective and efficient for a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and a smaller storage footprint. This family of capacity flash arrays are also offered with one of the industry’s most comprehensive software suites, ONTAP One, an all-in-one license that includes all available NetApp software. Customers can modernize their data center with the flexibility to choose the right storage (performance flash, capacity flash, or hybrid) for their VMware, database, and file workload requirements, all running on NetApp ONTAP and managed centrally by NetApp BlueXP for a seamless hybrid cloud experience.NetApp also announced today, NetApp Advance, a new portfolio of storage programs and guarantees to deliver best-in-class customer ownership experience and cost-effectively future proof on-premises environments.* This gives customers the flexibility and choice to safeguard their storage investment – whether the C-Series, AFF A150 or other newly acquired AFF or FAS systems – with the ability to right-size on-premises environment and transition to storage as a service or cloud storage as their business requires. And with NetApp’s 4:1 Storage Efficiency Guarantee,* NetApp ensures that workload efficiency goals are met, or NetApp will rectify this at no cost to the customer.“In today’s challenging business environment, companies are dealing with shrinking IT budgets and an emphasis on increased ROI. Businesses also have the pressure to respond to the growing sustainability demands,” said Walid Issa, Senior Manager, Solutions Engineering – Middle East & Africa at NetApp. “NetApp is rapidly responding to the macroeconomic pressures and increased sustainability goals faced by global organizations with the introduction of several new products and services. We are directly addressing these business challenges and giving our customers a new level of high-capacity, lower-cost on-premises systems, along with new programs, enabling them to future-proof their IT expenditures and get the most value out of their investments.”The NetApp AFF C-Series, which is comprised of the AFF C250, AFF C400 and AFF C800, offers:Guaranteed storage efficiency to improve an organization’s storage footprint and energy costs to reduce TCO while simplifying operations.*Seamless scalability on-premises to allow organizations to scale capacity and performance as their data grows.Best-in-class data security with ransomware protection to keep important data secure, available and protected.The new NetApp AFF A150 is ideal for Mid-size businesses, and Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) and distributed deployments to better meet the needs of customers who require entry-level, enterprise-class storage, while providing:Better performanceMore scalability and expansion optionsHigh availability with support for MetroCluster IPThese additions to NetApp’s product line-up are ideal for entry-level to high-end workloads (including virtual machines, database, and backup consolidation), are feature-rich with ONTAP data management, and are offered at an attractive price point for customers – creating strong growth opportunities for NetApp partners to reach new markets while qualifying for NetApp Partner Sphere incentives.“NetApp continues to assert itself as one of the market’s preeminent innovators for hybrid cloud storage,” said Juan Orlandini, Chief Architect and Distinguished Engineer at Insight Enterprises. “As a leading solutions integrator and longtime NetApp partner, we know our joint customers are looking for the industry’s most innovative solutions and services to enable speed, scale and resilience for their business. With these new capacity flash and entry level offerings, we’re opening the door to acquire new customers at scale.”NetApp Advance is available today. The NetApp AFF C-Series family and NetApp AFF A150 will be available starting in March 2023, and NetApp and Cisco plan to offer these storage options within the industry-leading integrated infrastructure offering, FlexPod, in Q4 FY’23.

Aster DM Healthcare appoints Rahul Kadavakolu as Group Chief Marketing Officer

Aster DM Healthcare, one of the largest integrated healthcare providers in GCC and India, has announced the appointment of Rahul Kadavakolu as Group Chief Marketing Officer. In this role, Rahul will be leading the overall Group Brand, Marketing, Communications and Go to Market strategy across the company by aligning closely with the strategic vision of the organization. The appointment comes amid the diversification of the company’s business portfolio and its ongoing evolution and foray into different markets.Commenting on the new appointment, Ms. Alisha Moopen, Deputy Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare, said, “We are delighted to welcome Rahul to lead the Brand, Marketing and Business development function for the Group. We are sure that with his international expertise and domain knowledge, he will play an essential role in Aster’s journey ahead. With his appointment as the Group Chief Marketing Officer, we are excited to embark on the next chapter of the evolution of the brand.”Rahul has over 22 years of experience in Strategy, Branding, Marketing, Communication, Sports & Entertainment projects spanning across industries. Prior to joining Aster, Rahul was with Rakuten Group, a conglomerate with 70+ businesses, where he led Global Branding, Marketing & Partnerships for the Group. He was instrumental in inking partnerships with FC Barcelona, Golden State Warriors, NBA, Davis Cup and helped build strong associations with Stephen Curry, Andres Iniesta, Messi’s Cirque Du Soleil show, Shakira’s Eldorado World Tour, etc. to name a few. He also led the Global Sports Business.Talking about his new stint, Rahul Kadavakolu, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Aster DM Healthcare, said, “Aster is a transformational leader in the healthcare industry. Health and Wellness has now become a top priority and center forward in everyone’s life. I’m thrilled to be joining an amazing leadership team and contributing to the organization’s strategic goals and community.”Rahul began his career in advertising at Hakuhodo Percept, managing a portfolio of Domestic and Japanese brands. He later went on to work for Ogilvy & Mather before transitioning into the IT & Digital Services industry. His longest stint was with Wipro where he held leadership positions within the brand and marketing function.

Stephanie Michael joins as Global Head of HR, the Global FinTech and Financial Services Provider has today announced a new addition to a team that has been expanding at a rapid pace over the past few weeks: Stephanie Michael has joined as the new Global Head of Human Resources (HR).Stephanie has extensive experience in human resources and a proven track record of success in working within the world of financial services. She will be responsible for overseeing all HR functions, including talent acquisition, employee relations and performance management. The new head of HR will play a crucial role in attracting and retaining top talent, promoting a positive company culture, and ensuring compliance with labour laws and regulations.Mohamad Ibrahim, Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at commented on the new hire:“We are thrilled to welcome Stephanie Michael as our new Head of HR to the team. Her expertise and passion for human resources will be a valuable asset to the group as we continue to grow and evolve at a rapid pace. I am confident that Stephanie’s leadership will help us attract and retain top talent, create a positive and supportive work environment, and drive our business forward. I look forward to working closely with her to achieve our shared goals for the growing XS brand.”Stephanie Michael, the new Head of Human Resources at, said:“I am honoured to join, a dynamic and innovative global broker as the new Head of HR. I am eager to use my expertise and passion for human resources to support the group's mission and growth. I believe that a strong HR function is key to attracting and retaining top talent, fostering a positive culture, and ensuring the well-being of employees. I am excited to work with the team to drive the XS Group forward and make a positive impact on the business and the lives of our highly valued employees.” The XS Group is committed to providing its clients with a seamless and personalized trading experience for a wide range of asset classes including Shares, Indices, Metals, Energies, Commodities, Currencies and Cryptocurrencies and to being a responsible and innovative leader in the industry. The addition of Stephanie Michael as the new Head of HR is a key part of this commitment. With a focus on innovation and responsibility, the company is dedicated to being a leader in the online trading industry. This news announcement comes only a short while after the XS Group announced further additions to the team with Mohamad Ibrahim recently joining as the Group’s new CEO and Ahmed Negm joining as’s new Head of Market Research for the MENA region.

Dragos appoints former intelligence community expert Kurt Gaudette

Dragos Inc., the global leader in cybersecurity for industrial controls systems (ICS)/operational technology (OT) environments, today announced it has appointed Kurt Gaudette as Vice President of Global Threat Intelligence. Gaudette brings more than 30 years of operational and technical intelligence experience to Dragos and will lead the company’s world-class team of adversary hunters, threat analysts, research engineers and analytic developers to discover, track, and disrupt threats to industrial control systems across the globe. After transitioning from the military, Gaudette served as part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Senior Executive Service (SES), leading large enterprise-level organizations focused on the collection and analysis of foreign intelligence ranging from space and weapons, to industrial control systems and emerging disruptive technologies. He has led globally distributed teams and organizations of up to 4,000 personnel, and executed budgets over $1B. “Kurt is a renowned threat intelligence and access expert with unrivaled experience building and leading global enterprise teams,” said Robert M. Lee, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Dragos, Inc. “Kurt is first and foremost a leader with vision and initiative. Couple that with his keen understanding of the threat landscape worldwide and you have an executive who will help drive innovative ways to stay ahead of sophisticated and quickly evolving industrial cybersecurity threats.”  Kurt previously served as a senior officer in the U.S. military, twice commanding major organizations running large-scale intelligence collection operations overseas. He also served as the Director of Intelligence/CJ2 for a large combined joint interagency task force in Afghanistan. “I was drawn to Dragos by its clear, defined and meaningful mission, its ethos, and its exceptional people. It’s a privilege to be part of this team,” said Gaudette. “I’m excited to get started and to help contribute to the safety and well-being of the industrial community and to the populations who are so dependent upon these basic and essential services like food, water, light and fuel.”

‘Startup performance will boost higher with more regional collaborative efforts’

During an edifying session titled ‘Regional Efforts that Help Companies Scale-up,’ on the second day of the sixth Sharjah Investment Forum (SIF) 2023, panellists discussed investment opportunities and challenges facing the business community in the UAE and the region, stressing the support needed for ventures to become global competitors.Moderated by Shafique Ibrahim, MD-Digital Transformation and Payments, Walvat, founder of FXB payment, panellists Anuscha Ahmed Iqbal, CEO and Co-founder of Spotti, Elizabeth Donaghy, Vice-President of Internal Operation at Sarwa, and Ekta Bhowjwani, Vice-President of Product Management of Kitopi, shared their insights on regional efforts to enhance companies growth.Anuscha Ahmed Iqbal shed light on her startup journey in the UAE since its launch in 2020 and then expanding to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain by October 2021. She spoke about the different levels of support that start-up companies receive from governments, and the varying regulations to be adhered to by the business owners.Elizabeth Donaghy highlighted the UAE government’s efforts to encourage starting businesses by providing significant facilitations such as reducing fees and taxes, creating an open market, and an inclusive environment for investors. “Our mission is to help everyone create wealth by making their money work in a smart way that is simple, accessible, innovative, and transparent,” she said.Elizabeth also added that women only receive 2% of the investment opportunities, pointing out the percentage of Saudi women investing in technology as an example, and calling for more initiatives to support women and youth to preserve the continuity of the business ecosystem in the region.Ekta Bhowjwani praised the support of the UAE government in scaling startup business owners, highlighting the keen efforts from authorities for constant development and providing opportunities. “When the country becomes an exciting place to live in, it's a lot easier to recruit talent,” she added.The SIF panellists also applauded the UAE government’s flexibility and continued easing of regulations, both of which are helping to attract more talents to start businesses and investment opportunities.

DEWA to enrich its services with ChatGPT technology

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) announced that DEWA is working to enrich its services with ChatGPT technology supported by Microsoft. This will make DEWA the first utility globally and the first UAE government entity to use this new technology. This is part of DEWA’s continuous efforts to promote its leadership locally and globallyThe announcement was made as Saeed Al Tayer received Naim Yazbeck, General Manager of Microsoft UAE. The move underlines DEWA’s pioneering successes in all digital areas and is a continuation of its use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which started in 2017 by developing an AI roadmap. DEWA has already launched various services and initiatives that use AI to enrich the experiences of customers, employees, and other stakeholders.The meeting was attended by Marwan Bin Haidar, Executive Vice President of Innovation and Future at DEWA, and Mohammed bin Sulaiman, CEO of Moro Hub (Data Hub Integrated Solutions),DEWA intends to provide ChatGPT technology through Moro Hub (Data Hub Integrated Solutions LLC), a subsidiary of Digital DEWA. The aim is to provide services supported by this technology and employ it in serving customers and employees. This will ensure providing integrated and advanced services that enhance productivity and meet current and future needs.“Our collaboration with Microsoft is a translation of the vision and directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to benefit from digital technologies and Artificial Intelligence to improve performance and enhance people's lives. It also supports the Dubai 10X initiative launched by His Highness, and our endeavour to contribute to shaping a new digital future for Dubai through Digital DEWA, the digital arm of DEWA, becoming the world’s first digital utility to use autonomous systems for renewable energy and storage. We are also expanding the use of AI and digital services,” said Al Tayer. “DEWA is investing in developing its digital infrastructure to accelerate its digital transformation to enhance customer happiness and provide added-value advanced digital services that enrich their experiences. This promotes DEWA’s global position as one of the most distinguished and pioneering utilities in the world, added Al Tayer.“We applaud DEWA for their pioneering spirit and look forward to further exploring the possibilities of integrating cutting edge technologies into their products to enhance their business, services and customer experience,” said Naim Yazbeck, General Manager of Microsoft UAE.ChatGPT, which uses AI and smart algorithms, is distinguished by its superior ability to interact with users through dialogue, in addition to its advanced ability to learn and understand their needs and enquiries. It is also capable of writing programming codes and solving coding problems, in addition to its ability to create different scenarios.SH

The Red Sea IFF announces dates for the third edition

The Red Sea International Film Festival (Red Sea IFF) has confirmed the third edition will take place from 30 November - 9 December 2023 in Jeddah, nestled on the eastern shore of the Red Sea. The second edition, was widely applauded for significantly expanding the industry and events program alongside presenting 143 films from 66 countries to 39,410 filmgoers and 4,345 film professionals, media and students, with an overall percentage capacity increase of 12%.The 2022 Festival showcased seven new Saudi feature films and 16 short films from an exciting wave of filmmakers, demonstrating the flourishing local industry and innovative filmmakers responsible for driving and bringing an exciting new vibrancy to Saudi cinema.Shining a light on films from Saudi Arabia, the Arab world, Asia, and Africa, the Festival’s film competition saw Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone at the helm and along with his fellow jurors, present 13 Yusr Awards to recognise the highest achievements in storytelling. The Golden Yusr for Best Feature Film was awarded to Hanging Gardens directed by Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji and the Film AlUla Audience Award for Best Saudi Film was won by How I Got There, directed by Zeyad Alhusaini.The Festival presented GOLD YUSR Honorary Awards to legendary superstar, actor and producer Shah Rukh Khan, Egyptian cinema icon Yousra, acclaimed British director Guy Ritchie and Academy Award winning actor and filmmaker Jackie Chan.Over the 10 days of the Festival, cinema talents including Sharon Stone, Spike Lee, Antonio Banderas, Akshay Kumar, Nadine Labaki, Jackie Chan, Andy Garcia, Luca Guadagnino, Ranbir Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Gurinder Chadha, Nelly Karim, Andrew Dominik, Fatih Akin, Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah, Mo Amer, Michel Ocelot, Kaouther Ben Hania and Gaspar Noé participated in a series of In-Conversations hosted at VOX cinemas for Festival goers.The Red Sea Souk welcomed industry professionals, acclaimed talent and pioneering filmmakers from around the world for four days to exchange knowledge, discuss creative and business collaboration and explore the rapidly evolving film industry with Saudi and beyond.The Souk comprised of the Project Market with 23 projects, six work-in-progress films, 50 exhibition stands, 13 panel discussions and facilitated over 1190 meetings across all the Souk initiatives including Talent days, a two-day initiative designed to support the development of the next generation of Saudi filmmakers. The Red Sea Souk concluded with more than a million USD awarded to projects selected in the Red Sea Souk Awards.Throughout the year the Festival supports the next generation of filmmakers and since 2019, the Red Sea Film Foundation has supported the development, production, and post-production of 170 films from the Arab world and Africa.Mohammed Al Turki; CEO of the RedSeaIFF explained: “Our second edition was a huge success and signified that The Red Sea International Film Festival is evolving into a global event that we are very proud of and grateful to everyone who supported us. We are still navigating our way being a young Festival and film industry but have been delighted with the feedback from the local community, regional and international guests. We were honoured to welcome some of the leading voices in Hollywood, Bollywood, South Korea, Africa and Arab cinema, sharing their journeys to the big screen with a new generation of Saudi creatives who are capturing the attention of the global film industry. Throughout the year, we will continue to support emerging filmmakers, welcome productions to shoot against our extraordinary landscapes and plan for our third edition as we continue to make our mark on the Festival circuit.”

Saudi Ground Services to implement Blockchain document solution

During Saudi’s leading tech event LEAP 2023, being held between February 7th-9th in Riyadh KSA, IR4LAB, a Saudi-based company specialized in disruptive technologies such as Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence., and SGS (Saudi Ground Services), jointly announced the implementation of DocCerts Blockchain management solution for all training related digital documents and ground service equipment licenses issued by SGS at 28 Saudi Arabian airports where SGS provides ground services.The Blockchain enabled solution will allow SGS to issue over 10,000 digital documents annually including licenses.Document verification is one of the major challenges internationally. DocCerts is a solution developed to solve these issues by utilizing the power of Blockchain Technology.Eng. Ayman Alghamdi, Vice President of Human Resources, at SGS, said: “We are very pleased to be announcing this groundbreaking solution at LEAP 2023. This is a historical moment and it’s the first initiative of its kind in the aviation industry. SGS delivers services to over 88 million passengers on 690,000 flights a year. Using DocCerts Blockchain solution at KSA airports we will be able verify documents and licenses easily, securely and efficiently improving customers’ experience. We are proud to be working towards achieving Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030 through these efforts.”Airport ground services support smooth aircraft operations. Functions carried out through these services include delivery of passenger services, baggage handling, ramping, traffic control, load control and fleet solutions. According to Expert Market Research, global Airport Ground Market Size will grow at a CAGR of 10.40% in the Forecast Period of 2023-2028Majd Jamal Alafifi, Co-founder & CEO of IR4LAB stated: “IR4LAB was Saudi Aramco’s first blockchain technology investment in the Kingdom given that we are committed to increasing the tech adoption in the country as well as building local capabilities. The agreement today with SGS is a clear example of the fruitful collaboration between local blockchain tech startups and leading local companies in the adoption of new technologies such as blockchain. We look forward to more agreements with other players in KSA as part of the aim to achieve Saudi’s 2030 vision and lead the way locally and globally.”Mohamed EL KANDRI, Co-Founder & CTO IR4LAB added: “This is an important milestone for the aviation industry not only in KSA but worldwide. Our customizable solution DocCerts allows any organization to create documents for their recipients using digital signatures that are then issued on the blockchain. This enables all stakeholders to verify them securely in real-time making the ground service offering in KSA airports safer, quicker, and more transparent.”

Amazon Academy launches in Saudi Arabia in collaboration with MCIT

Amazon today announced at LEAP 2023 the launch of Amazon Academy, its largest professional development program, to provide training and certifications in future-facing sectors, such as cloud technology, logistics and retail, in Saudi Arabia. Amazon Academy offers a world-class curriculum that is designed specifically for Saudi Arabia by experts at Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon Operations and Customer Experience teams. The initiative complements the Human Capability Development Program of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and aims to train over 30,000 Saudi citizens and provide 35,000 certification vouchers over the next three years.Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) will collaborate with Amazon through MCIT’s Future Skills initiative to encourage Saudi talent to sign up for the skills development academy, which is operated by Saudi Digital Academy (SDA) and TUWAIQ Academy. Amazon Academy will provide transformative training and certifications, free of cost to the participants, to elevate in-demand competencies and equip Saudi talent for jobs of the future. Going forward, Amazon will continue to collaborate with government and academic institutions with the aim of driving active participation from the public and private sectors to make local talent more resilient, organizations more productive, and the Saudi economy more robust.Amazon Academy combines Amazon’s global technological and operational expertise with its understanding of the Saudi talent landscape to deploy cutting-edge skills training. The program’s industry-leading certifications will enable talent to build their technical expertise across cloud technology, logistics and retail. Certifications under the cloud computing path will include basic and advanced to specialized levels across Cloud Architecting, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Analytics and other job-ready technology certifications to propel professionals and companies towards a digital future. All courses will be underpinned by Amazon’s ‘customer backwards’ philosophy and leadership principles, equipping learners to develop management and leadership models that unlock customer obsession and create passion for invention and innovation in their careers and at their companies. Amazon Academy will be open to all candidates, from novices to experts, at no cost.Ronaldo Mouchawar, Vice President, Amazon MENA said, “Amazon is known to have a culture that cultivates continuous learning, knowledge, and innovation. We want to share this with the incredible talent available in the Kingdom, and that’s why we’re launching Amazon Academy. Specifically tailored for Saudi Arabia, the program will empower the next generation of Saudi youth, entrepreneurs and professionals at any stage of their career to achieve success across various in-demand skills such as cloud computing, logistics, and leadership.”As Saudi Arabia accelerates towards a digitalized and diversified economy, Amazon Academy will launch with a curriculum that focuses on cloud computing powered by AWS. Many Saudi-based enterprises, startups, and public sector organizations use AWS to lower costs, become more agile, and innovate faster.Eng. Faris AlSaqabi, Deputy Minister for Future Jobs and Capabilities at MCIT, said: “We are delighted to be launching the Amazon Academy through MCIT’s Future Skills initiative, which seeks to benefit more than 30,000 talented Saudi up-and-coming professionals. We will be extending all support necessary to enable digitally savvy young men and women to enroll in the academy, which offers a range of cloud-based training courses from Amazon together with guidance, academic learning, and online workshops. This innovative platform will empower young Saudi talents by enhancing their digital capabilities, enabling them to excel in tomorrow’s jobs and contribute to Saudi Arabia’s dynamic future.”Wojciech Bajda, Director of Public Sector Middle East and Africa, AWS, said: “We are honored to collaborate with MCIT to launch Amazon Academy, which will offer opportunities for participants to train and develop their skills as well as create a pathway for greater adoption of new technologies. Saudi Arabia has established itself as a technological powerhouse owing to smart infrastructure and cutting-edge technologies. Amazon Academy will provide the Saudi workforce with the newest tools and abilities to excel in the digital economy, providing major competitive advantages, cost savings and efficiencies. By leveraging the training program, organizations can gain the confidence and expertise they need to lead successful digital transformation in line with Vision 2030.”Upskilling talent for the burgeoning demand for e-commerce-related services, courses in logistics and operations will become available later this year. This learning path will incorporate Amazon’s distinctive capabilities in building and managing customer-centric operations at scale, innovations that power customer experience, and training that will empower local entrepreneurs to set up and manage their own scalable e-commerce operations.The program’s immersive curriculum combines the scalability of virtual learning with the engaging connections that are established through in-classroom sessions and hands-on workshops. The Academy’s flexible model allows candidates from all walks of life to integrate courses to suit their own schedules and learning needs. Candidates will benefit from a higher bar of learning through regular assessments and examinations that will prepare them for a competitive job market, enabling career advancement at both regional and international levels. In addition to skills development, the Academy will offer 100 internship opportunities.Working professionals, entrepreneurs and new graduates who are interested in learning more about Amazon Academy and the courses available can visit

‘Fail until you succeed’: Global tech figures share key insights

American billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper today expressed his regret at not investing in ChatGPT, believing the Artificial Intelligence-driven chatbot will change industries in a way unseen since the creation of the internet.Draper, whose most prominent investments include Hotmail, Skype, Tesla, and Twitter, was speaking during a session entitled Global Collaboration: The Fuel For Innovation at LEAP23 – the world’s most visionary tech event – which runs at Riyadh Front Exhibition and Conference Centre until February 9.In front of a packed audience, the California native said the entrepreneurial pitches that catch his attention when looking to uncover his next unicorn are those that most surprise him and those that lean heavily on new technology.“Media, communications, entertainment, they all changed because of the internet,” he said. “Bitcoin is transforming huge industries such as insurance, finance, commerce, and government. But I think we have another one now and that is ChatGPT. I’m sorry I didn’t invest in that one. It is extraordinary and it’s really starting to change industry after industry after industry. I can see an entire government bureaucracy running with ChatGPT; an entire law firm running with ChatGPT, I can see media being driven by it.”Regarding governments, Draper said his travels to some 80 countries worldwide had left him with two clear conclusions when it comes to successful government: “Trust and freedom – you can’t have one without the other. I have been thrilled to see what is happening in Saudi Arabia because these leaders have trusted their people and set them free and attracted other people to their country,” he said. “And I know it’s happened all over this region; a lot of places are starting to really trust their people and set them free, and it makes all the difference. It’s the same as being in North Korea where they don’t trust you to do anything and in South Korea where they trust you to do everything.”Draper also revealed that his California-based Draper University has seen 120 Saudi Arabian students graduate from its 10-week start-up programme, the last five weeks of which are focused on going out into the world and building a business. “We tweak people’s brains to go out and try things,” he added. “We say: ‘Don’t worry about failing, do whatever you can’. One of the lines of our pledge is: ‘I will fail and fail again until I succeed’.”Draper is one of more than 700 speakers presenting at LEAP23, with the talent roster ranging from billionaire entrepreneurs and business magnates to sporting heroes and musical icons. Shortly after the 64-year-old stepped off stage, 17-year-old Gitanjali Rao took his place – two globally renowned innovators representing two very different demographics yet sharing a similar message of not fearing failure, embracing mistakes, and persevering until success is achieved.Rao, an American student, author, and STEM promoter, has already created an array of patented innovations, from a program that can diagnose snake bites to a device that can detect lead in drinking water; a digital AI service that reduces cyberbullying to an electrically charged pollen screen that prevents airborne allergies.“A teacher told me once that fail stands for ‘first attempt in learning’ and I stick with that on a daily basis,” said Rao, who was named Time magazine’s top young innovator in 2020 and named on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for her innovations. “Be a risk-taker – never stop taking risks. Failure is just another step to success.”A three-time TedX speaker, Rao outlined to LEAP23 attendees her “five-step innovation process that normalises failure”: Observe, brainstorm, research, build, and communicate. Having shared the process with children as part of an innovation movement in the USA, Kenya, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, and the UAE, among others, Rao presented it in front of a packed-out conference hall filled with men and women of all ages and nationalities.“Observe: identify a problem in your community that you are passionate about,” she said. “Secondly, brainstorm: Come up with a list of solutions and focus on quantity over quality – it’s always important to come up with as many solutions as possible. Third: Research, which is when you narrow down that list of solutions to one or two. Next, build them and bring them to life. And finally – the most important and underrated step – communicate. Post about ideas, leverage the power of social media. Get feedback and ask questions to improve.”With more than 100,000 tech innovators and disruptors in Riyadh this week, LEAP23 is expected to help fast-track Saudi’s economic and societal transformation. The enduring legacy of this year’s event, which is powered by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) in conjunction with Tahaluf – a strategic joint venture co-owned by Informa PLC and SAFCSP – is expected to be a huge catalogue of breakthrough products, ideas, and partnerships.Michael Champion, Regional EVP of MEA at LEAP23 organisers Informa Markets, said the involvement and insights from such inspirational figures as Draper and Rao can only support the technological development of Saudi Arabia, which announced nine funds worth a combined US$2.4 billion on Tuesday, all intended to support the growth of start-ups in the Kingdom as it embarks on creating a more competitive tech ecosystem.“The speaker line-up at LEAP23 is unlike anything this region has seen before. It will help drive the development of Saudi, the wider region, and the entire global tech industry,” said Champion. “This is only the second day of the event’s second year, yet we are already seeing that LEAP is fast becoming unmissable on the international calendar of entrepreneurs, startups, and venture capitalists worldwide.”

Rise of the robots as Saudi Arabia underscores global data and AI aspirations

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today enhanced its game-changer status in the global data and artificial intelligence (AI) sectors with the opening instalment of DeepFest - a new co-located event held in partnership with the Saudi Data & Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) - on the side-lines of LEAP23, the world’s most visionary tech event.The inaugural DeepFest has gathered drivers of the global AI ecosystem to unveil multi-sector initiatives in a three-day thought-leadership conference with sector-specific tracks, trainings, live-demos, and startup pitches.Complemented by a dedicated exhibition featuring companies transforming the world we live and work in, the DeepFest conference program – themed AI Beyond Imagination – homes in on AI implementation in areas such as clean tech, the Metaverse, women in technology, and more – including robotics.Robots and avatars take centre-stage in future vision of human-robot symbiotic societyAmid the assembled pool of change-makers, big tech pioneers, data scientists, innovators, enterprises, academia, startups, and innovative business entrepreneurs, famed roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro delivered an inspired session titled Avatar and the Future Society.Ishiguro, the director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory – part of the Department of Systems Innovation in the Graduate School of Engineering Science at Japan’s Osaka University – has been pioneering advancement in humanlike robotics since 1997. The 59-year-old has also been creating eerily realistic androids for over 15 years, including Geminoid HI-1 - the roboticist’s own virtual twin, who joined him on stage at DeepFest.Having spent his career dissecting the nature of what it means to be human, Ishiguro outlined how advances in robotics and avatars are narrowing the separation between human and humanoid.“By 2050, we want to realise a society in which people are free from the constraints of the body, brain, space, and time. The technology is being developed already; with our automated robotic tech, we can create avatars that anyone can use easily. I believe we can create avatars that will allow anyone – from children to the elderly, and everyone in between - to play an active role in society. With avatars, I believe we can change the world. We can choose to work, study, and socialise with real-life robotic or computer graphic (CG) avatars. Many companies in Japan are already using CG avatars for customer service - not in place of humans, but with humans controlling their own avatars. In Japan, we have an aging population problem, and we need to find solutions that allow people to work – this can be solved by using avatars and advanced robotic technology,” said Ishiguro.Other sessions in the day one DeepFest agenda included Neural-Symbolic AI Driving Progress Toward Artificial General Intelligence with Dr. Benjamin Goertzel, CEO of the SingulaityNET Foundation; Generative AI Revolution with Leonid Zhukov, Director of Boston Consulting Group’s Global AI Institute; How Technology is Inspiring the Future Workforce with Beverly Rider, CCO of Tonomous and CEO Tonomous VentureStudio, and more.

Mozn announces a new AI-powered Anti-Fraud product, to bolster risk management

Mozn, a market leader in enterprise artificial-intelligence technologies, today announced an advanced AI-powered Anti-Fraud product capable of proactively identifying suspicious patterns and preventing criminals from targeting organisations and their clients to profit from financial crime.Released as an additional product suite to the company’s innovative Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) platform, FOCAL, Anti-Fraud product was announced at Saudi Arabia’s LEAP 2023 tech conference at Riyadh Front Expo Centre. In the spirit of LEAP – which gathers tech innovators and leading experts from around the world to discover new ideas and build new partnerships – FOCAL Anti-Fraud leverages powerful AI to address the increasing volume and complexity of fraud in emerging markets.FOCAL Anti-Fraud can confirm the identity of payees automatically by checking data input against the destination account’s records. The product combats fraud by combining a wealth of datapoints to score Fraud risk and then compare the derived score against custom risk appetite thresholds. The innovative new product automatically selects the best next action based on their assessed legitimacy, thereby minimizing impact for the customers of financial institutions. To date, FOCAL has been able to successfully complete more than 1 billion security and identity checks for its clients, detect hundreds of millions in Saudi Riyals worth of fraud and money laundering crimes in Saudi Arabia, in the past few months only. FOCAL has also been able to monitor more than 3 Million customers and SAR 8 Billion worth of transactions - providing financial institutions the ease of mind needed to grow and innovate and secure digital finance for humanity.FOCAL Anti-Fraud’s sophisticated design means it can expose fraudulent activity through the application of deep AI network analysis to identify devices, Geo/IP addresses, and other attributes commonly used in the detection of criminal activity. The platform’s reporting system instantly flags suspicious activity and integrates it into the Fraud Score to strengthen ongoing protections.“Banks, fintech providers, insurance companies and brokers, and indeed any industry that finds itself in the crosshairs of fraudsters will welcome the announcement of FOCAL Anti-Fraud,” said Dr. Mohammed Alhussein, Founder and CEO of Mozn. “At Mozn, we not only address the challenges of today; we look out for what is ahead to ensure that the hurdles of this year and the next are no barrier to economic innovators both inside the kingdom and across the region. FOCAL Anti-Fraud penalises fraudsters, not consumers, and delivers rapid time-to-value by empowering better decisions. Mozn will continue to fight financial fraudsters with our state-of-the-art AI-powered products and solutions so that businesses can improve their risk management and enhance protection for themselves and their customers.”Mozn’s Anti-Fraud product will run as part of its wider FOCAL suite that is rapidly bolstering the region’s fight against money-laundering. FOCAL’s AML product screens customers using advanced name-matching algorithms designed specifically for Arabic- and Latin-text characters and compares them against more than 1,300 up-to-date global and local sanctions and PEP lists.

TONOMUS teams with Oracle and NVIDIA to boost AI adoption across NEOM & SA

TONOMUS – the cognitive multinational conglomerate and the first company to be established as a full-fledged subsidiary of NEOM – today announced a collaboration with Oracle and NVIDIA at LEAP23. The collaboration is aimed at boosting the delivery of groundbreaking AI capabilities across NEOM and Saudi Arabia.The collaboration is designed to accelerate AI-powered innovation for a broad range of use cases by enterprises and government organizations. TONOMUS will provide customers with direct access to NVIDIA’s advanced AI, digital twin solutions that take advantage of the planned Oracle Cloud Region to be located at NEOM, hosted by ZeroPoint DC hyperscale data center and via TONOMUS’ digital cloud platform.Joseph Bradley, CEO of TONOMUS, said: “The longstanding alliance between Oracle and NVIDIA complements TONOMUS’ ongoing mission to build the infrastructure and ubiquitous connectivity required to enable the world’s first ecosystem of cognitive technologies. This monumental collaboration will empower NEOM with geographical advantage and place Saudi Arabia firmly on the map as a regional hub for the provision of AI capabilities, as well as further support Saudi Vision 2030 and the Kingdom’s rapidly developing cloud market.” Richard Smith, Executive Vice President, Cloud & Technology, EMEA of Oracle, said: “The futuristic city of NEOM is the ideal ground for deploying the latest AI-powered applications and customer experiences, which will help usher in a new era of smart cities. TONOMOUS will benefit from Oracle Cloud Infrastructure’s (OCI) unmatched capability of supporting modern cloud native applications in a secure environment. This, coupled with our existing partnership with NVIDIA, will speed AI adoption for enterprises.” Jaap Zuiderveld, Vice President of EMEA at NVIDIA, said: “AI and accelerated computing in the cloud enable cities around the world to improve sustainability and livability, enhance the safety and efficiency of urban mobility, and deliver more inclusive citizen experiences. NVIDIA software and systems on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure provide an ideal platform for developers like TONOMUS to build AI-forward, modern cities.” Users of TONOMUS’ seamless, cloud management platform, which combines cloud sales and management with a user-friendly digital interface, will draw a range of valuable benefits from the company’s collaboration with Oracle and NVIDIA. In addition to curating access to the world’s top cloud service providers, the platform allows users to search for and compare a wide range of options, capabilities and costs in real time, and then purchase and manage solutions.It also facilitates cost monitoring, resource optimization and visibility, centralizes customer management of multiple cloud assets and costs, and is an asset to finance and accounting departments in accessing information on historic and projected costs based on consumption.OCI’s comprehensive set of public cloud services and NVIDIA’s accelerated computing stack – from GPUs and networking to software – combined with OCI’s AI cloud infrastructure of bare metal and RDMA cluster networking and storage, will provide NEOM-based enterprises with a broad, easily accessible portfolio of options for AI training and deep learning inference at scale. The availability of the globally adopted NVIDIA AI platform will grant businesses that make NEOM their home the benefits of essential processing engines for each step of the AI workflow, from data processing and AI model training to simulation and large-scale deployment.The venture will be propelled by technology such as the NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPU and the upcoming, NVIDIA H100 – the most advanced accelerator ever produced and an order-of-magnitude leap for accelerated computing. Its combined innovations can speed up large language models by an incredible 30 times over the previous generation to deliver industry-leading conversational AI.Early adopters of the technology will also be able to enjoy various opportunities, allowing large corporations across a range of industries – from healthcare and manufacturing to telecommunications and financial services – to reduce their IT infrastructure costs, automate operations and obtain insights faster than ever before.The strategic partnership between TONOMUS and Oracle has been steadily expanding since the company was named as the first tenant at ZeroPoint DC in October 2021.

Park Hyatt Doha appoints new Director of Marketing

Park Hyatt Doha, a luxury hospitality pioneer and sophisticated luxury retreat in the cultural heart Msheireb Downtown Doha, has announced the expansion of its leadership team, as part of a series of strategic hirings that aim to drive its growth and expansion in Qatar.Christelle Bou Chebel, the new Director of Marketing and Communications, holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Lebanese University in Beirut, as well as a Master’s in Communication and Information. She brings with her a wealth of experience in public relations at several prestigious organizations in Qatar, moving up the ladder to become a Marketing and Communications Manager at The Westin Doha, as well as a public relations manager at ADabisc Future Qatar Agency and La Cigale Hotel, prior to joining Park Hyatt Doha.With her excellent capabilities in the marketing and sales industry and in-depth knowledge of brand strategy, Christelle is poised to bring added value to the team and help the hotel in achieving optimum outcomes from its marketing efforts.Commenting on her appointment, Christelle said: “I am proud and excited to join the Park Hyatt Doha family to start a new phase in my professional journey. The hotel has a great avenue for progress in this robust market, and I am here to help drive collaborative marketing efforts towards optimal growth, propelling the hotel’s position as a key luxury destination in the country.”A proven sales leader with over 13 years of experience in international hotel sales, Yildiray Satiroglu brings with him a diverse skillset in hotel sales across corporate rooms, groups, conferences, outside catering, and travel trade fields in local and international markets. He holds a Master’s Degree in Product Management and Marketing and a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality and Hotel Management.Yildiray has accumulated many achievements throughout his career, including the successful organization of the European Basketball Championship for +200 thousand fans, NATO Summit in Istanbul that accommodated above 7 thousand delegates, and lately Qatar WC 2022 at Park Hyatt Doha. Yildiray is passionate about signing multimillion valued agreements throughout his career for different hotels which he is keen to continue in Park Hyatt Doha.Throughout his career that spanned multiple positions, from Conference and Event Sales Executive to Cluster Director of Sales and Director of Sales, Yildiray demonstrated his exceptional acumen in driving the Top line Budget and Forecast by implementing a commercial strategy and business plan through to execution using all available business tools and intelligence, and all revenue streams, including but not limited to rooms, events, and outside catering fields.“I thank Park Hyatt Doha for the opportunity to join the team as Director of Sales and Marketing. I aim to bring my rich experience in the hospitality field to support the hotel’s marketing efforts and drive sales, especially my in-depth knowledge of the Hyatt brand, with which I have been since 2012. I will also leverage my knowledge and skills to establish strong relationships with all stakeholders, owners, hotel teams, and the Hyatt Sales Force to achieve accelerated commercial benefits.”Commenting on the appointment, Roger Saad, General Manager at Park Hyatt Doha, said: “I am pleased to welcome Christelle and Yildiray to our team. Their expertise and insights will be invaluable to our hotel as we start 2023 with a strategic mission to maximize our market expansion and drive further growth. I have faith that their professionalism, dedication, and energy will contribute substantially to our development.” [BCC(2] Park Hyatt Doha is centrally located only 16 KM away from Hamad International Airport for easy transfers. It is also easily accessible by metro, being mere steps away from the “Msheireb” Station which connects all three lines of the national rail. It is very close to the city’s most iconic experiences such as Souq Waqif and the picturesque Corniche which leads to the skyline of West Bay’s commercial towers, and Museum of Islamic Art.

Satellite pay TV landscape in the Arab world

A new report from Arab Advisors Group has been released to provide a business analysis of the four MENA-based pay TV providers targeting the Arab World. Arab Advisors Group analyzed a historical comparison of the airtime, packages and fees, content and channels, and interactive services of the satellite pay TV providers under study for the duration between 2014 and 2022. In addition, the report analyses satellite pay TVs’ response to its competitive forces in the region.Satellite pay TV providers need to reshape their business models in response to competitive forces and digitization of the broadcasting industry. According to Arab Advisors Group’s report, MENA’s satellite pay TV providers’ respond was fourfold. The MENA-based satellite pay TV providers which cater to the Arab World launched their own OTT streaming applications, launched multi-screen platforms, implemented price segmentation to their offerings, and entered into partnerships with telecom operators to provide telecom subscribers with their offerings, bundled with telecom services.Arab Advisors Group analyzed the four satellite pay TV providers (Al Majd, beIN, GOBX, and OSN) from 2014 to 2022, building on our previously published reports. This report includes a historical comparison of the airtime, packages and fees, content and channels, and interactive services of the four satellite pay TV providers. On the fees front, three of the four providers under study increased its monthly average package fees in 2022, in comparison to their average fees in 2016. As for their airtime, one satellite pay TV’s provide airtime dropped in 2022 by around 39%, compared to its airtime in 2016; the remaining providers witnessed an increase in their airtime during 2022, compared to their airtime in 2016. Arab Advisors Group released a new report: "A Business Analysis of MENA Satellite Pay TV Sector and its Competitive Forces 2022". The report, which was released in January 2023, answers the following questions:What is satellite pay TV providers' offerings in the MENA?How did satellite pay TV providers alter their fees for the period between 2014 and 2022?What are the changes in the Satellite pay TV providers' channels and airtime for the period between 2014 and 2022?What are the genres and languages of satellite pay TV channels catering to MENA during the period under study?How do pay TV providers' streaming applications and multi-screen platforms compare across MENA during the analysis period?Who are satellite pay TV’s competitive forces in the region?The report was released to Arab Advisors Group’s subscribers and can be purchased for a fee of US$ 5,200.Arab Advisors Group’s team of analysts in the region produced over 5,500 reports on the Arab World’s communications, media and financial markets. The reports can be purchased individually or received through an annual subscription to Arab Advisors Group’s ( Strategic Research Services (Media and Telecom).