Dentsu shop opens for business

Dentsu today announced the launch of dentsu shop, a fully integrated retail accelerator developed to help both retailers and brands win in the ever-changing and expanding shopping landscape. As one of dentsu’s growing portfolio of vertical-specific solutions, dentsu shop is a collective which draws upon the best of the network’s commerce capabilities across CXM, media and creative, to deliver on the promise and potential of the increasingly ‘shoppable’ world. Dentsu shop is a tightly coordinated ecosystem of cutting-edge technologies, led by the network’s most experienced sector consultants across retail and brand, powering meaningful, data-driven experiences throughout media, commerce and loyalty. Underpinned by modern creativity, dentsu shop was built to help clients monetize first-party data, multiply the efficiency and efficacy of buy-side media, accelerate shopper growth and generate customer loyalty on the way to creating winning retail experiences – in-store, online, on the digital shelf, or at the end of the aisle.“The simple fact is that consumers no longer go shopping, they are always shopping. With so many paths to purchase, retailers and brands need to be everywhere their shoppers are right now, while being able to predict where they will be next,” commented Neal Sharma, President of dentsu shop. “With dentsu shop, we’re bringing together both sides of the coin, giving retailers and brands the opportunity to take advantage of dentsu’s unparalleled insight into consumers and address every manner in which they shop.”“Dentsu shop combines our network’s world-class services, including Merkle’s New Stream Media, loyalty solutions and globally-scaled commerce capability along with dentsu’s industry-leading retail media activation expertise — all elevated with horizontal creativity,” said Jeff Greenspoon, President, Global Solutions, dentsu. “Orchestrated and easy to access for clients, dentsu shop will power meaningful consumer experiences across media, commerce, loyalty and retail environments – while allowing us to increase our competitive advantage in this space. Watch out for a series of external partnerships and joint product development announcements that are on our roadmap for 2023.”Dentsu shop allows clients to seamlessly blend multiple modes of shopping and deliver a consistent brand experience elevated beyond function and convenience with best-in-class experts orchestrated together in an agile and proven integrated model.For the first time, clients can benefit from the deepest expertise in brand and retail value creation, brought together in one holistic solution. Dentsu’s experience in helping brands activate shopping experiences positions it perfectly to help retailers create the places and spaces for brands to drive growth. Similarly, dentsu’s successes in retail enablement, allows it to help brands activate in more meaningful and effective ways, while driving brand love and loyalty.Dentsu shop’s integrated solutions include:Retail enablement – the development, operation and scaling of retail media networks (RMNs), establishment of media sales and operations groups, implementation of commerce platforms and loyalty programs, and execution of monetization systems.Brand activation – centered around performance media, search, social, programmatic, shopper marketing, retail media and marketing automation.Consulting – consumer research, audience insights, experience design, merchandising through major e-retailer platforms, commerce strategy, branding/creative development, technology selection and partnership management.Innovation – capitalizing on emerging trends and technologies to create sustainable value for clients, from leveraging identity services to innovating new products and services, or venture investing to creating new ad products.Dentsu offers retail media, commerce, and creative strategies to flagship retail and consumer brands. Find out more on dentsu shop at:

WPP partners with Stripe to expand commerce and payments solutions for brands

WPP today announced it has partnered with Stripe to develop new commerce and payments solutions on behalf of joint clients. With this announcement WPP is now a Consulting Partner within the Stripe Partner Ecosystem (SPE), a program which provides a comprehensive package of resources and access to industry-leading consulting firms.WPP, together with Stripe, will engage in strategy and consulting to help clients with a range of initiatives including digital transformation, new product launches, e-commerce design and development, mobile applications and payments infrastructure. WPP will receive early access to new product releases and go-to-market strategy in addition to receiving support from Stripe’s team of commerce and payment experts.A recent report on the future of commerce suggests that 57% of global consumer spend is already online, and 60% of shoppers say they will increase their usage of digital shopping channels in the future.By partnering with Stripe, WPP will enhance its digital commerce capabilities across its business which includes over 13,500 commerce specialists globally. The news follows WPP’s recent acquisitions of commerce agencies Diff and Fenom, and exemplifies the company’s continued investment in its commerce offer for clients. Ranked as a Leader in Forrester's latest global Commerce Services Wave, WPP already manages more than $40bn of direct and $20bn of marketplace GMV for clients.Stripe is a financial infrastructure platform for businesses. Millions of companies such as Amazon, Ford, Maersk, Shopify, and Le Monde use Stripe to accept payments, grow their revenue, and accelerate new business opportunities. Stripe’s partner ecosystem provides the services and technology to enable enterprises across all industries to transform their ecommerce experience.Stephan Pretorius, WPP’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “As companies increasingly move to digital channels to improve the customer experience, it becomes important that they implement a robust system with quality data to integrate their brand and commerce strategies. Through the deployment of best-in-class technology platforms, like Stripe, we’re able to support bold client ambitions, promote powerful data-driven commerce performance and remove friction in delivering first-rate customer experiences."Dorothy Copeland, VP of Global Partnerships and Alliances at Stripe, said: “The increase in online spending is accelerating, and companies need to innovate quickly to stay ahead of consumer demand. By combining Stripe with WPP’s extensive commerce experience, businesses can modernize, get more out of their digital channels, and grow entirely new revenue streams.”

Philips Domestic Appliances names OMD Group as its Global Media Partner

Philips Domestic Appliances selects Omnicom Media Group (OMG) as global media agency. The partnership includes all of the company's kitchen appliances, coffee makers, indoor climate control, clothes steaming, ironing, and floor cleaning appliances in more than 100 countries. By supporting the company through a tailored media platform, OMG will play a key role in implementing a new marketing model and advancing Philips Domestic Appliances' accelerated growth agenda as a global leader in home appliances.The mission of Philips Domestic Appliances is to make houses into homes. OMG will support the company in this by planning and purchasing traditional, digital and performance media for the company's full brand portfolio and extensive campaign schedule. The collaboration will start on April 1, 2023.‘’Consumers want a complete experience. They don't differentiate between the message and the medium. That's why we designed an agency model that really puts the consumer at the center and is focused on making an impact," says Trix van der Vleuten, Head of Global Brands & Marketing Strategies at Philips Domestic Appliances. “This model is about seamlessly integrating the power of big, bold ideas and creativity, enhanced and optimized by media and data. It enables us to create consumer experiences based on data-rich insights at scale and in real-time, enabling us to deliver innovative can stay in our industry.”Alex de Ruwe, Head of Media at Philips Domestic Appliances: “With OMG we have found a media partner that enables our growth and enables us to achieve our ambitious goals. OMG's tech, tools and talented people take media to the next level through integration, standardization, automation, simplification and innovation. We look forward to a good and long-term cooperation with our new agency.”Florian Adamski, CEO of the Omnicom Media Group: “OMG and Philips Domestic Appliances have a common goal: to transform the consumer experience to enable long-term growth. This goal is the foundation of our bespoke media platform and all the brands our team will work on.”

Netflix releases trailer of Saudi animation series Masameer County

Netflix today has released the official trailer for the second season of the smash-hit Saudi animation sensation, Masameer County. The six-episode series will premiere exclusively on Netflix on March 2nd, 2023.The trailer for season 2 teases the wild escapades of beloved characters, Saad , Saltooh and Trad the dog, including a daring 24-hour mission, an unexpected ride in an elevator, and a mischievous rocket launch. Created by Abdulaziz Almuzaini and Malik Nejer, the series follows the comical adventures of the mischievous citizens of Masameer County. In season 1 of Masameer County, which debuted on Netflix in June 2021, we saw the Masameer team heading into a long-standing tribal feud, a media war, and a health craze gone too far. Season 2 builds on the first season promising further exciting stories and humorous entertainment for fans alike.This series is brought to you as part of Netflix's five-year exclusive partnership with Saudi Arabian animation studio Myrkott, signed in 2020 to bring viewers Saudi-focused shows and films. Masameer County season 2 will be available on Netflix in 190 countries on 2nd March, 2023.

GCC appetite for video-on-demand shows no signs of slowing

Even as video-on-demand suffers drops in subscriptions across much of the world, numbers are growing in the GCC. On average, consumers in the region currently have access to three streaming services, while fewer than two-in-ten people are subscribed to no streaming provider at all.For longer than a decade, streaming has been talked about as ‘the future’ of video-entertainment. Early video-on-demand (VOD) market leaders Netflix and Amazon Prime saw rapid success with subscription-based models, which would deliver an almost limitless number of films and series to consumers instantly.But the last year has seen the video-on-demand boom finally grind to a halt. Recent polling from Accenture found that only 18% of consumers around the world intended to grow their subscription spending in the coming year. In contrast, 38% will cut back – with a worrying 15% saying they will “greatly decrease” the amount they spend on subscriptions.Even as ‘subscription fatigue’ continues to worry video-on-demand providers – to the extent Netflix has finally taken action to crack down on password sharing – however, no such phenomenon is impacting the Gulf markets.A new study from Oliver Wyman has found that on average, people in the GCC have access to three video-on-demand streaming services – and their appetite is growing. Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting, with offices in more than 70 cities across 30 countries.Surveying consumers across the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the firm found that UAE consumers have access to the highest number of video-on-demand services per person on average, at 3.1. This was followed by Saudi Arabia at 3.0 and Kuwait on 2.5.Rogerio Dienes, Lead of Oliver Wyman’s Communications, Media and Technology vertical in the Middle East, India and Africa, noted, “The GCC having a globally high rate of video-on-demand subscriptions does not come as a surprise considering the region has one of the highest penetrations of internet users in the world.”Video-on-demand services include those such as Netflix, Shahid, Amazon Prime, and YouTube Premium. Of those, 60% of UAE respondents said they had access to at least two services – while just 12% of respondents did not access any services at all. Similarly, only 22% of those in Kuwait and 20% of those in Saudi Arabia did not access any video-on-demand platforms.Across the whole region, GCC consumers accessed the second highest number of video-on-demand services per person, with an average of 2.9. This is only behind the United States, where each person has on average 4.7 subscriptions.Importantly, though, while US appetites seem to be fading – with only 29% of consumers considering adding a new service in 2023 – the GCC looks to have much higher growth potential. A 75% majority of respondents in the GCC said they expect to increase the number of video-on-demand streaming services they access.Dienes added, “The finding that GCC consumers are more likely to increase the number of video-on-demand subscriptions compared to other regions is in part connected to the fact that consumers here are facing less inflationary pressures on their wallets compared to those in other parts of the world.”Within the GCC, respondents in Saudi Arabia showed the highest appetite for growth in subscriptions, with 80% stating that they are likely to increase the number of video streaming services that they access.Meanwhile, the survey also found that under 25s were the age group most likely to increase their access to subscriptions. Despite having the lowest income bracket, the group is generally touted as the first movers in any ‘shift to digital’, so their enthusiasm suggests a broader shift is on the horizon for video-on-demand providers in the GCC.

HUB71 launches new innovation ecosystem

Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem, has announced the launch of Hub71+ Digital Assets, a dedicated Web3 specialist ecosystem, with more than AED7bn+ ($2 billion) of capital committed to fund Web3 startups and blockchain technologies from Abu Dhabi.Hub71+ is a specialist ecosystem dedicated to advancing specific technology sectors. The first Hub71+ to launch is Hub71+ Digital Assets, focussing on unleashing the disruptive potential of Web3 and the growth of digital assets.Web3 describes the evolution of the internet into a decentralised online space increasingly built on innovations such as blockchain technology and metaverse applications. Web3 startups, from seed to unicorn stage, will benefit from the ability to scale globally through Hub71+ Digital Assets, unlocking access to a host of programmes, initiatives, and its extensive range of Web3 focused corporate, government and investment partners in the UAE and global markets. Hub71+ Digital Assets will be based at Hub71 in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) where Web3 startups can operate in a progressive regulatory environment, which offers world-class blockchain and virtual asset infrastructure.First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the UAE's largest bank and one of the world's largest and safest financial institutions, and its research and innovation center, FABRIC, join Hub71 as the anchor partner of Hub71+ Digital Assets. FAB will identify leading Web3 startups, entrepreneurs, and breakthrough technologies to help the UAE’s largest bank reimagine financial services in the metaverse.Hub71 has also onboarded a diverse range of partners and Web3 players that form part of Hub71+ Digital Assets including digital asset exchanges and service providers Binance and MidChains, that will facilitate the discovery, trading and custody of digital assets.Technology Providers Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Mastercard will also help to bridge the gap between Web2 and Web3 and providing effective infrastructure platforms, and venture studio DAO will assist in facilitating the build and acceleration of new Web3 and digital assets startups.Providing access to capital and investment opportunities, a number of venture capital funds will be available including Binance Labs’ $500 million Investment Fund to invest in Web3, Venom Foundation through its USD 1 billion venture fund, Venom Venture Funds (VVF) in partnership with ICEBERG Capital an ADGM regulated investment manager, Ton Foundations’ $250 million TONcoin.Fund, as well as existing venture capital partners from Hub71 that are set to invest in Web3 companies.In addition, blockchain platforms Algorand, Polygon, SUI Blockchain, Ton Foundation and Venom Foundation, will enable transparent recording, tracking, and sharing of assets.The combination of these elements aims to support participating startups to launch tokens and promote tokenisation, as part of the fundraising journey.Ahmad Ali Alwan, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Hub71, said: “Hub71+ Digital Assets signifies that Abu Dhabi is open to disruptive businesses driving forward change and transformation on a global level. Decentralisation is the future of a blockchain-based internet, and Web3 startups will play an immense role in accelerating this transition. Teaming up with ADGM, FAB and its research and innovation center, FABRIC, alongside the world’s leading Web3 companies and enablers under one roof will provide founders with an opportunity to fundraise, develop and commercialize innovations safely while operating within the largest regulated jurisdiction of virtual assets in the MENA region.”Dhaher bin Dhaher Al Mheiri, CEO of ADGM, said: “We are pleased to strengthen our association with Hub71 on the launch of Hub71+ Digital Assets. In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, we have seen the rise of new technologies, and ecosystems such as Web3 that have the potential to transform the world. At ADGM, we are dedicated to providing a holistic environment that facilitates a seamless and secure adoption of digital assets to foster the growth of this new digital landscape. This alliance will help start-ups and digital assets to benefit from ADGM's diverse ecosystem and progressive regulatory environment by accessing world-class and innovative infrastructure. This further reinforces ADGM’s commitment to developing the UAE economy and keeping pace with global trends with a risk-based approach. We are delighted to be at the forefront of this revolution by empowering the next generation of businesses and look forward to the long-term growth it will present to the start-ups of the UAE and beyond.”Suhail Bin Tarraf, Group Chief Operating Officer at First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), said: “FAB is trusted as a financial partner to our customers in the real world, and those same customers are now increasingly active in the Web3 space as well. Staying ahead of the curve when it comes to innovations such as blockchain, NFTs and the metaverse, is yet another way we fulfill our Customer First promise as we leverage new opportunities at the intersection of digital identity, ownership, and value. Through this partnership, it is our intent to meet our customers in this emerging digital space and keep them ahead with their financial needs.”Web3 startups at the unicorn stage (valued at more than $1 billion) will also benefit from Hub71’s value creation programme to support business relocation to Abu Dhabi and growth in the Middle East and global markets.Hub71+ Digital Assets will contribute to supporting the UAE Digital Economy Strategy, which aims to double the contribution of the digital economy to non-oil GDP to more than 20 per cent within 10 years.

Egypt shuts down second-largest piracy ring in Middle East

MyCima, the second-largest piracy operation in the Middle East region, was shut down by the Egyptian authorities following a referral from the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), the world’s largest and most effective anti-piracy coalition.Based in Alexandria, Egypt, the illegal service averaged more than 55 million visits per month prior to its shutdown and comprised more than 70 domains and numerous copycats. Some 12,000 movies and 26,000 TV series, including content from all ACE members, were offered for direct download or streaming.“The latest shut-down in the Middle East reinforces the fact that no matter where in the world they are, criminal distributors of pirated content can’t hide,” said Jan van Voorn, Executive Vice President and Global Content Protection Chief for the Motion Picture Association and Head of ACE. “Whether they operate on a global or national level, these operators will have to face the consequences of their illegal actions. We applaud the action taken by the Egyptian authorities and look forward to supporting them in further actions. We would also like to thank the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Internal Affairs for their work in the investigation and protection of intellectual property rights.”ACE partnered with two of its new MENA-based members, OSN and MBC GROUP, on this action.“The shutdown of MyCima is a significant victory for the entertainment industry and sends a strong message to those who engage in the illegal distribution of content. As a member of ACE, OSN is committed to protecting the rights of content creators and producers and will continue to support actions that combat piracy in the region,” said Joe Kawkabani, Chief Executive Officer of OSN, a leading MENA provider of premium global and local content. “Through collaboration and collective efforts, we will protect the creativity and innovation that drives the global growth of our industry.”Natasha Matos-Hemingway, Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer at Shahid, a leading Arabic streaming platform by MBC GROUP, added: “MyCima was identified as one of the top pirating websites that was streaming our content illegally. Unsurprisingly, this affected our business as it would affect any media production company in the region.We have successfully managed to block more than 121 websites in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and more than 26 websites in the United Arab Emirates. Together with ACE, our efforts towards terminating these illegal platforms will help discourage and decrease the number of pirates stealing our content.”

Shakespeare Communications builds new business for Barnaby

Boutique PR Agency Shakespeare Communications is now providing its services to Barnaby Crompton, the exclusive property agent, renowned for selling the most expensive property ever recorded in Emirates Hills.Barnaby - otherwise known as Barney - a Dubai-based British-born broker, has more than 24 years of real estate experience in the UK and UAE. He moved to Dubai in 2008 and started working across property sales in some of Dubai’s most exclusive areas, from Emirates Hills to the Palm Jumeirah.Barnaby says, “My portfolio presents some of Dubai’s most exclusive properties in iconic areas, and I have quite a unique perspective on the market after many years of dealing with captains of industry and society’s movers and shakers. I need help in getting news of these rare properties out to as wide an audience as possible. Ananda and her team present a long pedigree of working with some of the leading brokers in the UAE, so I feel it’s a good fit for me and my business.”CEO of Shakespeare Communications, Ananda Shakespeare, says, “Barnaby is a real force in the local property scene, and needed someone he felt would not only understand his requirements quickly and easily, but offer a close working relationship he just couldn’t find from a bigger agency. Since I started my company, we’ve always worked with property companies, and it’s fantastic to have Barnaby join our ever-growing client roster.”Ananda and her team will soon be reaching out to key media to discuss Barnaby’s unique property portfolio, offering interviews, opportunities and tours.

Emirates, Great Britain SailGP Team announce three-year partnership

Emirates and the Great Britain SailGP Team today announced a three-year sponsorship deal.Under the agreement, Emirates will become the sailing team’s first-ever Title Sponsor starting with the race in Sydney on 18th and 19th February, 2023.Emirates’ signature "Fly Better" logo will be visible on the Great British F50 race boat, with prominent branding on the centre of the wing and hull. The airline’s iconic logo will also appear on the front and back of the team’s clothing, sailing apparel and equipment.Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline, said, “We’re delighted to announce our new partnership with one of the world’s most successful sailing teams. Emirates and the Great Britain SailGP Team share common values, ambitions, and drive – making this partnership a natural fit. Together, we’ll take the sport to new levels, bring fans closer to the action, and deliver world-class experiences to customers worldwide. We also look forward to working closely with our partners on joint sustainability initiatives that will truly make an impact - on and off the water.”Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team CEO & Driver, Sir Ben Ainslie, commented, “This is a pinnacle partnership, one that brings both commercial value and supports our sustainability ambitions to support three million young people to take climate action."Under the sponsorship deal, the airline will enjoy a wide-range of benefits including: marketing, digital and social media rights; VIP hospitality tickets; meet and greet access to the athletes, including Sir Ben Ainslie and Hannah Mills, OBE, the world’s most decorated male and female Olympic sailors; and exclusive opportunities such as "sixth sailor experience" for Emirates fans to experience the action first-hand on the water.In line with the UAE declaring 2023 as the "Year of Sustainability" – the new sponsorship will also open more opportunities for Emirates and the Great Britain SailGP Team to drive joint global environmental campaigns with the common goals of reducing emissions, consuming responsibly, and preserving biodiversity.Emirates and Great Britain SailGP Team will also support wider sustainability issues such as gender equality. SailGP has launched a women's pathway to create an inclusive sporting championship that has gender equity at its heart – where the best athletes have equal opportunity to compete on the F50.' Emirates Group has also recently signed the UAE Gender Balance Council pledge, committing to increase the representation of women in leadership roles to 30 percent by 2025.The global sailing racing calendar will see the Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team compete in the remaining races in Season 3 SailGP, with the iconic Emirates branded F50 boats featured in Sydney, Christchurch, and during the grand finale in San Francisco on 6th and 7th May, 2023. The airline will also continue to support the team for the next three seasons of the racing calendar.

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.”