DET launches the annual Dubai Tourism Summit

Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) has announced the launch of the annual Dubai Tourism Summit, a first-of-its-kind travel forum in the region which will lay the foundation for a home-grown world-class thought leadership programme to boost the city’s resurgent tourism industry and support regional and global tourism.The DET announced the forum today at its bi-annual ‘City Briefing’ event held during the Skift Global Forum East, the first-ever MENA extension of the Skift Global Forum. The Dubai Tourism Summit will provide a networking platform for industry stakeholders to share their vision, ideas, strategies and best practices, as well as insights on leveraging the latest innovations and trends to create a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable future for global tourism.The DET also shared the latest tourism report for the first ten months of 2022. Data showed that Dubai welcomed 11.4 million international overnight visitors between January and October, an impressive year-on-year increase of 134%, taking the city further on its journey to becoming the world’s most visited destination.The DET’s ‘City Briefing’ was presided over by His Excellency Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General of DET, and attended by more than 1,000 executives from across the tourism ecosystem, including aviation, travel, hospitality and retail sectors. The meeting provided an update and outlook on the industry. It explored ways to continue accelerating the momentum to reinforce Dubai’s position as a global hub for business, investment, talent and tourism.Helal Al Marri said: “We are grateful to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for his visionary leadership, inspiration and guidance that has led to several milestones in 2022. Dubai has always been an international icon of innovation and excellence. The Dubai Tourism Summit will see us working even more closely with our domestic and global stakeholders and partners as we focus on pushing the boundaries further to highlight Dubai’s position as the top international destination and the best city in the world to live in, work and invest. With the Dubai Tourism Summit, we will elevate our blueprint for sustainable growth, contributing towards our industry’s continued success and supporting the recovery of regional and global tourism.”Al Marri added: “Our performance in the first ten months of 2022 indicates that we are on target to achieving our tourism goals, which dovetail with the UAE Tourism Strategy 2031 announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to attract AED100billion as additional tourism investments and 40 million hotel guests by 2031. It is also a testament to our city’s resilience, robust and diversified market strategy, solid collaboration model between the government and private sectors, and the strength of the city’s diverse destination proposition. We are well-placed to end this year on a resounding note and perform even better in 2023 and beyond, steadfastly supported by our aviation, travel and hospitality partners, who continue to champion Dubai’s position as the first-choice destination for global travellers.”Key markets continue to deliver on tourism volumesThe 11.4 million international overnight visitors who arrived in Dubai between January and October 2022 represented a quantum leap over the 4.88 million visitors that the city welcomed for the same period in 2021. The numbers are close to the pre-pandemic record of 13.50 million international visitors in the first ten months of 2019. Dubai’s international tourism arrivals significantly outperformed other major global destinations, giving Dubai a head start on post-pandemic recovery.Hospitality sector shines across many metricsParticipants were also briefed on the hospitality sector’s outstanding success, as it played a significant part in Dubai’s impressive rebound. Dubai’s growing popularity among global travellers is evident in the fact that there were 54 million online searches for Dubai per month during Q3 2022, which was close to pre-pandemic levels, with bookings in the last few months surpassing pre-pandemic levels.Dubai shares limelight with other global cities with 71% occupancyAverage hotel occupancy in Dubai between January-October 2022 stood at 71%, one of the highest hotel occupancies in the world. This compares to 64% in the corresponding period of last year and just short of the 74% during the pre-pandemic period of 2019. Dubai’s occupancy continues to closely trail the top benchmark cities: Istanbul (75%), New York (74%), Paris (73%), London (73%) and Los Angeles (72%).Hotels register strong growth; supply up by 18% over pre-pandemic levelsDubai’s hotel inventory in October 2022 comprised 144,737 rooms at 790 hotel establishments compared with 122,185 rooms available at the end of October 2019 across 724 establishments. The total number of hotels in the first ten months of 2022 saw an 8% growth over the same period in 2021, highlighting strong investor confidence in Dubai’s tourism sector.The hotel sector outperformed pre-pandemic levels across all other key measurements: Occupied Room Nights, Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR). Despite the significant 18% increase in supply compared with pre-pandemic levels, Dubai hotels achieved strong growth across ADR and REVPAR over 2019 levels. Dubai hotel establishments delivered a combined 30.40 million occupied room nights during the first ten months of the year, a 23% YTD growth and a 17% increase over the corresponding pre-pandemic period of 2019, which yielded 26.01 million occupied room nights.The ADR of AED506 in the first ten months of 2022 surpassed the ADRs for the first ten months of 2021 (AED384) and 2019 (AED400), with a 32% increase in ADR in YTD October 2022 vs YTD October 2021 and a 27% increase vs YTD October 2019. The stellar performance of the hotel sector is also demonstrated in RevPAR growth: a 48% increase in RevPAR in YTD October 2022 vs YTD October 2021 (AED362 vs AED245) and 23% vs pre-pandemic YTD October 2019.Taking Dubai to the worldThe stakeholders and partners were also briefed on the creative global campaigns that Dubai has consistently launched across multiple traditional, digital and social media platforms to highlight the city’s multi-faceted appeal to audiences in international markets. For instance, the highly successful Dubai Presents campaign comprises a series of movie-style trailers featuring Hollywood stars Jessica Alba and Zac Efron and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan. Most recently, the ‘Where the World Celebrates’ global campaign features French football star Karim Benzema coinciding with the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.His Excellency Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), said: “Inspired by our visionary leadership, 2022 has been a transformative year for developing and broadening Dubai’s global appeal, designed to keep thedestination top-of-mind and to cater to the varied needs and tastes of international travellers. With the world on the move again, our ability to quickly react, adapt, evolve and tap into existing and new segments of travellers is key to Dubai’s efforts to leverage and benefit from a rapidly and radically evolving global tourism landscape. We have ensured a steady influx of international visitors by offering more value than any comparable destination. We will maintain our competitive edge through our strong public-private partnerships, expansion of the diverse destination offering and constant launching of innovative initiatives and international campaigns to showcase Dubai as a ‘must-visit’ destination, as well as cement its position as one of the most accessible and liveable cities in the world.”Dubai, a family destination and global liveability hubThe briefing highlighted the results of the DET’s International Visitor Survey. The survey revealed that, in H1 2022, Dubai gained significant ground as it consolidated its position as a destination of choice for families and couples (79%) and that international visitors stayed longer in Dubai during their visits in H1 2022 (+0.8 days vs H1 2019). With this, Dubai has seen positive performance across all tourism pillars, from culture to cuisine, adventure, entertainment to shopping. The survey also highlighted that young travellers in the under-35 age group constituted a significant proportion (40%) of travellers to Dubai in H1.A Skift trends report published for the Skift Global Forum East in collaboration with the DET shed more light on Dubai’s emergence as a global destination. The report titled ‘Livable, agile, resilient – Dubai’s blueprint for a 21st-century tourism destination’ highlights the experiences and lessons learned by the city’s leaders, tourism partners, and global industry leaders as they navigate numerous challenges together.Dubai ranks highest among the region’s most liveable citiesThe report highlights that Dubai annually ranks highest among the most liveable cities in the Middle East according to the Economist Intelligence Unit report, a leading provider of global insights and market intelligence. The report underscores the city’s focus on improving the quality of life and its efforts on building a well-rounded and sustainable community, noting that Dubai was ranked No. 2 in 2021 in the Euromonitor International Top 100 City Destinations Index. It also shows that Dubai was the only city with four Top-10 rankings out of sixcategories: Tourism Policy and Attractiveness, Health and Safety, Economic and Business Performance, and Tourism Performance.The Skift report also shared DET data that ranked Dubai highly on tourism-specific pillars. More than 80% of visitors gave “general entertainment” and “hotels/accommodation” at least a nine out of 10 rating in 2021, with several other key areas — outdoor adventure and sports, family entertainment, and shopping and retail — earning such high marks from more than 75% of visitors to the emirate. Each of these areas saw anywhere from four to 12 percentage-point gains in visitor satisfaction.Attractions, achievements and accoladesBuilding upon the city’s drive to diversify its offerings to ensure a broad choice for travellers of all ages, 2022 saw the opening of new attractions and leisure landmarks, including the Museum of the Future and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library. Dubai continued to be honoured with awards and recognition from the industry. Dubai ranked as the No.1 global destination, the No.1 destination for ‘City Lovers’ and the No.4 destination for ‘Food Lovers’ in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2022. The accolades speak volumes about the city’s appeal to a diverse global audience.The biggest success story of the past year was Expo 2020 Dubai, which played a pivotal role in driving worldwide interest in Dubai and accelerating momentum across several sectors, including tourism. Expo attracted 192 participating nations and more than 24 million visits by residents and global travellers, placing Dubai at the heart of a dynamic international agenda and positioning it as a leading global city for trade, investment and tourism. A game-changer in this direction is Expo City Dubai, the dynamic legacy of Expo 2020 that will be a futuristic destination driven by sustainability, innovation, education and entertainment and a model city of the future.A global gastronomy hubDuring the briefing, DET shared the initiatives contributing to these successful tourism figures. The city’s Gastronomy Always On (GAON) campaign has worked tirelessly to bolster Dubai’s position as a global gastronomy hub. The GAON campaign championed Dubai’s array of home-grown dining destinations and street food eateries through a series of events, including the Dubai Food Festival.Dubai’s reputation for serving diverse culinary experiences was further enhanced by the launch of MICHELIN Guide Dubai in June and the arrival of the renowned fine dining food critique brand Gault&Millau. Further, the inaugural edition of Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants recognised 16 Dubai restaurants in February 2022. Dubai is home to more than 13,000 restaurants and cafés serving food and beverage from the cultures of over 200 nationalities residing in the city. This year, the DET also launched the region’s first-ever Gastronomy Industry Report, a comprehensive study of the city and region’s gastronomy scene, reinforcing Dubai’s position as a sought-after global destination for food tourism.A year-round destination for international eventsDuring the briefing, the DET presented the city’s year-round calendar of events, which has been a driving factor behind Dubai’s thriving tourism sector. With an impressive line-up of even more citywide events, activations and experiences led by the iconic Dubai Shopping Festival, the annual Retail Calendar is being unveiled on a large scale throughout 2023, featuring festivals, events, celebrations and promotions.Dubai is also celebrating the FIFA World Cup in Qatar with several pop-ups, alfresco experiences and fan zones, which broadcast live the FIFA World Cup games. These fan zones include BudX FIFA Fan Festival at Dubai Harbour, with Dubai being one of only six cities around the world designated to host official BudX fan zones.This year, Dubai also hosted the first edition of the inaugural Dubai Esports Festival, experiencing great success with attendance by global audiences and celebrity appearances. It reaffirmed Dubai’s position as a global pioneer in technology and sports and further reinforced its international reputation as a leading city for year-round events.The briefing explored Dubai’s position as a key destination for global business events, with 370 bids submitted for international events with 283 international business events in the pipeline and set for future hosting in Dubai. In addition to Expo 2020, the city has hosted globallyrecognised business events and activities throughout the year, including Gulfood, Arabian Travel Market, Gitex Global and now the Skift Global Forum East. These international events have helped amplify Dubai’s position as a tourist destination and welcome an array of ‘bleisure’ travellers.His Excellency Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO, Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DRFE), said: “As a multi-faceted destination that offers visitors a multitude of experiences, events form a key element of Dubai’s tourism strategy. Our reputation as a pioneering year-round international events destination has been bolstered considerably this year, thanks to a roster of quality international leisure and business events. As we reach the end of a landmark year for Dubai in terms of festivals, events and entertainment, we are already looking ahead to 2023 and beyond to cater for the evolving needs of a diversified visitor profile. In preparing for such an outlook, sustained cross-industry partnerships will be even more crucial to retaining Dubai’s status as a leading global events destination.”Cruise hub of the region set to welcome 900,000 cruise touristsCruise tourism also played a pivotal role in the success of Dubai’s tourism sector, with the new season kicking off with the arrival of the cruise liner TUI Cruises (Mein Schiff 6) at the Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal, Mina Rashid in October. The 2022-2023 season will see 166 ship calls between Mina Rashid and Dubai Harbour, bringing in an estimated 900,000 cruise passengers and crew.New initiatives to spur growthDubai’s ambition to become the city of the future will be primarily driven by the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, which aims to expand Dubai’s offering and place a reimagined focus on enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors, with sustainability at the core of these developments. Dubai continues to launch bold regulatory citywide initiatives to promote accelerated growth across the tourism sector, including streamlining access to the city by establishing hassle-free entry procedures for business and leisure travellers and long-term engagement with the city. Such initiatives include the introduction of the 60-day tourist visa from September 2022 and the Five-Year Multi-Entry Visa for employees of multinational companies. These were in addition to other previously announced initiatives – including theGolden Visa initiative targeting investors, entrepreneurs and specialised talents, and Virtual working and Retire in Dubai programmes.During the last year, Dubai has built momentum in business tourism with more flexibility for talent to visit and stay back in Dubai. The new era of flexible working means that people can work from anywhere and at the same time enjoy the diverse offering of that particular destination. Remote workers favour Dubai due to its vast array of co-working spaces, attractive hotel packages, and growing popularity as a global liveability hub.

BeIN sports to broadcast FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 final on free-to-air and YT

beIN MEDIA GROUP (“beIN”) has revealed its extensive broadcast plans for the upcoming final of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – including live, exclusive, and multilingual coverage of 18 December’s finale between Argentina and France. The broadcast will be made available on beIN SPORTS’ free-to-air channel and, as part of its commitment to making the Arab World’s first World Cup accessible for viewers across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the match, as well as the entire day’s coverage, will be available to stream free of charge on beIN’s official YouTube channel.As the official broadcaster in 24 countries across MENA, beIN has played a central role in showcasing Qatar and its ground-breaking tournament to the world this past month, with more than 5 billion accumulated views since the biggest sporting event on the planet kicked off on November 20.Sunday’s trophy match between an Argentina side looking to secure a third World Cup title and the regaining world champions, France promises to be one of the most-watched sports events in history.Mohammad Al-Subaie, CEO of beIN MENA said: “The final of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ this Sunday will be a historic occasion for football, for the Arab World, and for beIN. For this reason, we are determined to make sure it is available to as many people who want to watch it as possible. We started this tournament promising to provide an unrivalled viewing experience to football fans across the region and, with billions of people having tuned in so far, we can safely say we have succeeded in doing that. Now, with two games remaining, we are set to finish the tournament as we started, and cannot wait to witness – and broadcast – history as it is written.”Ahead of the 18:00 final match kick-off inside the iconic Lusail stadium, Arabic coverage will start at 08:00 MECCA on beIN SPORTS’ free-to-air channel, beIN SPORTS MAX 1, and beIN SPORTS’ YouTube channel, with a series of shows and countdowns, before the in-studio build-up gets underway from 16:00 to 02:00 MECCA the following day.English live coverage starts at 11:00 MECCA on beIN SPORTS MAX 3 with the World Cup Daily, followed by a countdown show from 13:00 to 15:45 MECCA. The commentary on the final match will kick off at 16:00 until 21:45 and is available in both Spanish as well as English.French live coverage will begin at 10:00 MECCA on beIN SPORTS MAX 5, with the live pre-match show kicking off at 15:30 MECCA direct from Lusail Stadium. Final match commentary will proceed from 16:00 until 22:30, with Sunday’s coverage being completed with a post-match show.beIN will have the best line up of regional and international talents anywhere in the world providing the best analysis and insight into the much-anticipated Final. Sunday’s studios will include: Mohammed Aboutrika, Tarek Al Jamala, Kaka, Marcel Desailly, John Terry, Ruud Gullit, Omar Da Fonseca and Daniel Bravo.

Grand Mercure Hotel & Residences & ibis Styles Dubai Airport appoints Arsanious

The brand new ACCOR complex celebrating the UAE heritage is pleased to announce the appointment of Arsanious SAAD as Cluster Director of Sales & Marketing.Saad brings more than 13 years of hospitality management experience to the properties, making him a valuable asset to the hotel and group. Using his customer-centric and data-driven expertise, he will play an integral role in leading, developing and supervising the commercial strategy of the 712 keys complex.Saad aims to extend a premium level of service to guests and to build on Grand Mercure Dubai’s market position as a leading luxury hotel in GCC region.Prior to this role, he held the Cluster Director of Sales & Marketing position for IHG Hotels & Resorts Dubai (1600+ keys) where he over achieved the hotel’s revenue in the first 6 months and managed to increase the MPI growth.Saad has a bachelor in Business Administration and Commerce from Zagazig University, Egypt.On his appointment, Saad said, “I am delighted to be part of such a great team. The property has continually raised the bar for offering guests luxurious yet affordable experiences and I look forward to working with the team to build on the reputation that the ACCOR Group has created for itself around the world.” Tyrone Lodder, Cluster General Manager at Grand Mercure & Ibis Styles Dubai Airport, said, “We are glad to welcome Arsanious Saad to the team and confident in his broad skillset. Saad’s passion for optimizing sales revenue will shine as he settles into the new role, ensuring to maintain the properties in "pole position," within its compset.

UK & DIFC joint statement on deepening data partnership

On behalf of the UK Government and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the UK Minister of State for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure, Julia Lopez MP, and Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority, issued a joint statement on a shared commitment to deepening their data partnership and the promotion of the trustworthy use and exchange of data between the UK and DIFC.DIFC is the first financial centre in the MEASA region to engage with the UK Government on an adequacy assessment.DIFC welcomes the recent and noteworthy progress made by our respective officials to facilitate the free and secure flow of personal data between the UK and DIFC and will prioritise the successful conclusion of the assessment of DIFC in these discussions.International data transfers underpin modern-day business transactions and financial services. They help streamline supply chain management and allow for financial inclusion, so that businesses anywhere, particularly those in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region with ties to the UK, can scale and trade globally. There are as many as 5,000 British companies operating in the UAE, many of which depend on safe data transfers.Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: “DIFC is a destination for culture and commerce, but its key distinguishing factor is its legal and regulatory framework. The sound infrastructure built by our legislation is adaptable yet resilient enough to cater to essential, innovative legal principles and best practices that support key business activities in DIFC. The DIFC Data Protection Law 2020 is a prime example of that, and the joint statement issued today with the UK government confirms it.”Jacques Visser, Chief Legal Officer and Commissioner of Data Protection at DIFC, added: “I am pleased to share that our team has been working in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) team to build a reliable, scalable yet robust “data bridge” between our jurisdictions. The joint statement issued today is a signal that the UK is taking its place as a leader in innovative data protection policy, and the evaluation of the DIFC Data Protection Law is a key part of the overall policy framework on international transfers. We look forward to completing the assessment in the near future.”Julia Lopez, UK Minister of State for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure, said: “Trusted data transfers can unlock huge potential for trade, investment and innovation around the world. The UAE has always been an important destination for UK businesses, and I look forward to strengthening our partnership through the free and secure flow of data in the future.”The UK and DIFC share a deep commitment to high data protection standards fit for the digital age, which are underpinned by the trustworthy use of data. We are both working to ensure that our data protection laws facilitate responsible innovation, reduce burdens on businesses and deliver better, lower risk outcomes.

Blue to debut a fintech super app for Iraq and the Middle East

Blue (Ishtar Gate Company for E-Payment Systems and Services), an Iraq-based fintech company providing a wide range of technology solutions, has released its latest technology that allows users to trade US-listed stocks via a mobile app called Bluepay. Recently approved by the Central Bank in Iraq as the first and only company to offer international money transfer service, Blue CEO Ali Al-Saeed, said, “This is an unprecedented technology solution built and provided locally in Iraq. It has triggered other fintech-provided services such as a multi-currency solution that opens up a new horizon of opportunities in the Iraqi market.”Regardless of the type of cards they have, the multi-currency technology available to all users of the app helps them top up their accounts with by both dollars and Iraqi dinars, then exchange their balances into 10 other currencies. “For instance, converting to Turkish lira enabled tourists to Turkey to have a local-like card and small businesses purchasing products from Turkey had access to e-commerce platforms that only deal with Turkish-issued financial products,” he added.Corridor to ChinaVia the app, Bluepay users can issue a UnionPay Card, a Chinese state-owned financial services company, that helps them carry out financial transactions to/from China. Bluepay UnionPay opens the China corridor for SMEs in Iraq and MENA region to do more business through Chinese companies.Ali Al-Saeed explained, “Our goal is to create the first super financial app in the region that gives freedom to users, while also enabling regional banks to provide unparalleled services using our technology. We plan to expand our services in the region by focusing on Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the first quarter of 2023."Followed Blue Platinum, the first platinum prepaid card“All this comes a few months after the launch of Blue Platinum, the first platinum prepaid card that Bluepay launched in Iraq in partnership with Visa International that aims to provide normal consumers with platinum add-ons as well as other fintech technologies such as the multi-currency capability and zero fess for online transaction,” he concluded.

Study: 76% of UAE’s consumers expect to send more money internationally

Citizens and residents of the United Arab Emirates (the UAE) expect to transfer more money internationally in the next 12 months, according to a study commissioned by Western Union. Exclusive insights show that 76% of consumers who send money and 75% of consumers who receive money, respectively, expect to transfer and collect even more funds over the next year.The study, which surveyed more than 1,000 UAE-based citizens and residents who send and receive cross-border money transfers, explores consumer sentiment on how, when and why they move money. The results bolster Western Union’s recently announced ‘Evolve 2025’ (E25) strategy of combining high-value, accessible retail and digital financial services.Family support is highlighted by 60% of senders as the primary reason for transferring money overseas. Saving for the future comes in a distant second, ranked by 11% of senders. A well-known melting pot of cultures, the UAE is home to more than 200 nationalities and ranks among the top most talent competitive countries. Some of its more sizeable communities come from the world’s largest remittance-receiving economies.Caring for family back home is further re-enforced as one of the main factors driving the number and amounts of overseas transfers. Furthermore, as increased living expenses and global currency fluctuations create additional pressure on personal finances, 74% state that because of higher cost of living in the country they send to, they need to transfer more money. Seventy-one percent state that they take the opportunity to send more money when the currency value falls in their receiving country.“To remit is often a very personal decision. Western Union data also supports that one of the most common reasons why consumers remit is to support loved ones and family,” said Jean Claude Farah, President of Middle East and Asia Pacific at Western Union. “So it is only natural that as the global economic climate challenges affordable ways of living, family support takes precedence over everything else as senders move money,”“Continuously attracting such a diverse range of nationalities is a true testament to the UAE’s efforts to position itself as a global partner, and an attractive and influential economic hub,” Farah added. “We believe that these ongoing efforts will also mean that the UAE will continue to ride the top spot as one of the biggest senders of remittances in the world. It also makes it even more incumbent on us as businesses to connect people to opportunity; Western Union has been doing this for consumers in the UAE for almost 25 years and is deeply committed to the country. As we evolve and grow in the years ahead, we remain steadfast in enabling an environment that drives financial inclusion and creates pathways for long-term economic success across the country’s societies.”Cultures and familial ties influence the frequency and flow of moneySending money shortly after payday regardless of wider economic circumstance (34%), or family needs back home (32%) are the two best-known drivers of money transfer flow and frequency. However, Western Union’s study also shows a third factor: almost a quarter (21%) of consumers say they focus on sending money during festive occasions such as Ramadan, Christmas, New Year and Diwali, as well as other special occasions, such as birthdays, graduations and anniversaries.In an interesting reversal of this trend, 37% of UAE consumers who receive money transfers also say frequency and amount is influenced most strongly by festive and other special occasions, ranking higher than family needs (27%) or the timing of their sender’s paychecks (18%).“We understand that diverse populations have equally diverse needs. Festive seasons and special moments are a great example, whereby every year, we see an uptick of approximately 6% in the volume of remittance transactions as these occasions approach,” Farah said. “Western Union offers a broad mix of digital and retail channels to serve the varying payment needs of millions of customers worldwide. We believe that the trust we enjoy with consumers in the UAE and around the world puts us in a unique position to help millions of people bring their best to society.”Tech-savvy population seeks choice in the futureAs consumers consider how they would like to send and receive money in the future, they value choice above all. Western Union’s study shows that 42% currently send money across borders exclusively through digital channels. However, as they look ahead, 46% want to be able to choose how they send their funds, whether in cash or digitally.A similar sentiment is echoed among receivers. Forty-three percent currently receive money through digital channels only. In the future, 57% want to be able to choose between digital and retail channels when collecting their funds.Those who do not use digital channels, say the top barrier preventing them from sending or receiving money online is their preference for face-to-face interaction, followed by trust. Process or customer experience is also another commonly cited barrier.Farah concluded, “Findings from the research show that while most consumers can be considered digital-first, many ultimately want to able to choose between digital and retail options, based on their convenience and needs. However, being able to trust in online services is critical, and as an industry, we have work to do helping consumers overcome their concerns. Ultimately, our end goal will always be to ensure that we can support even more people’s financial needs, wherever they are geographically, culturally or economically.”

UAE SA organizes workshop to introduce the geospatial analytics platform

 The UAE Space Agency, in collaboration with Bayanat, organized a workshop to discuss the Geospatial Analytics Platform for the Space Data Center, and cover the project’s targeted objectives, outputs and services. The workshop was held on Tuesday, December 13, in Abu Dhabi.“As part of our efforts to raise awareness about the national projects and initiatives launched by the UAE Space Agency, this workshop aims to introduce the attendees to the targeted objectives, outputs, and services of the Geospatial Analytics Platform. The partnership will allow SMEs and entrepreneurs to design, develop, and commercialize space data applications and value-added services (VAS),” said HE Salem Butti Al Qubaisi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency.The workshop agenda included two technical sessions, and a full introduction of the project’s targeted objectives, outputs and services, as well as a detailed explanation of satellite image analysis techniques and models for analytical reports. The workshop also included a presentation by the UAE Space Agency to emphasize the strategic drive towards stimulating the private sector specifically the space applications and value added services market and presentations by Bayanat to highlight the project’s objectives, key requirements and implementation plans, including development and operational phases.The technical sessions discussed the production-level Artificial Intelligence (AI) development for geospatial applications, and an introduction to Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) analytics and applications. The agenda also included an open discussion and Q&A session about the project.The workshop was attended by a wide audience of federal and local governmental entities, start-ups, companies working in AI-powered smart applications and geospatial solutions, as well as academia and geospatial specialists.Through the platform, which is expected to be completed by Q4, 2023, the UAE Space Agency aims to facilitate access to satellite data for scientists, researchers, government and private institutions, start-ups, and community members, to develop solutions that support national and global challenges.On the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi Space Debate, the UAE Space Agency signed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with Bayanat to design, develop, and operate the Geospatial Analytics Platform for the Space Data Center, one of the transformation projects announced by the UAE government. The projects aim to create an innovative ecosystem for Earth monitoring applications, by harnessing the power of data management, and providing analytics reports, by using specialized satellites.

Chairman of Int’l Federation for Falconry Sports

  Ahmed bin Mohammed is elected as Chairman of the International Federation for Falconry Sports and Racing. The International Federation for Falconry Sports and Racing today held its first meeting at the Etihad Museum, during which it announced the election of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the UAE Falcons Federation, as Chairman of the International Federation.The meeting was attended by representatives from 11 countries, including the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Tanzania, Uzbekistan and Argentina. During the meeting, the attendees praised the UAE’s contributions to preserving and developing the sport of falconry.The International Federation was established as an independent international sports entity following directives by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai. The entity, which will support all sports related to falcon racing, is permanently headquartered in the UAE.In his speech, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed thanked international sports organisations for their trust, which he said reflects the UAE’s achievements in the heritage sector under the guidance of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The country’s leadership is committed to preserving the UAE’s heritage and places it at the top of its priorities, His Highness said.His Highness Sheikh Ahmed congratulated the leadership on the establishment of the International Federation for Falconry Sports and Racing under the directives of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed. The Federation will support the practice of this sport globally in an organised manner, observing sporting values and rules and regulations of the game, he said.His Highness added that the Federation would work with national falconry entities from around the world to exchange knowledge and expertise while welcoming feedback to support the sport. Members of the International Federation for Falconry Sports and Racing thanked HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed and lauded the UAE’s efforts to promote falconry as one of the key heritage sports in the world. During the meeting, Sheikh Zayed bin Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Vice President of the Board of Directors of the UAE Falcons Federation, was named as Vice Chairman of the International Federation for Falconry Sports and Racing. Meanwhile, Rashid Mubarak bin Markhan, Secretary General of the UAE Falcons Federation, was elected as the Secretary General of the International Federation for Falconry Sports and Racing. The Board of Directors of the Federation was asked to prepare an action plan and reach out to all relevant entities worldwide to promote the international federation in the next phase. On the sidelines of the meeting, Sheikh Zayed bin Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan honoured the top three winners in the UAE Falcons Federation Cup for falcon races in the categories: Sheikhs, Open Public, and Owners. Dumaithan Suwaidan Saeed Al Qamzi was also honoured in recognition of his efforts for chairing the organising committees of the Fazza Championships for Falconry since 2003.The meeting was attended by Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Chairman of the General Authority of Sports and First Deputy President of the UAE National Olympic Committee, and His Excellency Majid Ali Al Mansouri, Secretary General of the Emirates Falconers’ Club.

First-ever UAE-India Awards celebrate a dynamic partnership

The first-ever UAE-India Awards, presented by UK-headquartered India Global Forum (IGF), mark the culmination of the week-long IGF UAE 2022 – a power-packed series themed around Partners for Global Impact. The UAE-India Awards at the stunning Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, The Palm, Dubai, on 15 December 2022 brought together a star-studded cast of VIP guests, celebrities and influential figures from the world of business, politics, and the arts for a premier black-tie evening celebrating the dynamic partnership between the UAE and India. It marks a celebration of the organisations and individuals working tirelessly to strengthen and energise the UAE-India partnership. H.E. Mariam Almheiri – UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment – lauded the India Global Forum for creating a high-powered platform to celebrate UAE-India ties. She said: “The UAE and India enjoy long-standing and cordial relations across multiple fronts and this Forum is making its mark in pushing our bilateral relations to a new level.“The UAE is committed to working with India in confronting international challenges across multiple sectors to achieve a balanced and sustainable global economic growth.” Celebrated British comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner set the tone for the glittering ceremony as the host of the evening, which included a special performance by popular singer-songwriter Sonna Rele. Professor Manoj Ladwa, IGF Founder & CEO, said: “The first-ever UAE-India Awards celebrate the special relationship between the two countries and the high achievers adding to the momentum behind our strengthening ties.“As the theme of IGF UAE reflects, the UAE and India are ideally suited ‘Partners for Global Impact’ and the awards are here to spotlight those working towards making that partnership truly impactful.” The UAE-India Awards 2022 Nominees & Categories are:Investment of the YearAdani, Emmar, LuluNew Market Entrant of the YearAllen Overseas, EaseMyTrip, Lenskart, VerseLegal Practice of the YearAshish Mehta & Associates, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Keystone Law, TrilegalBanking Organisation of the YearAxis Bank, Emirates NBD, HSBCBusiness Promotion Organisation of the YearDubai Chambers, FICCI, IBPCTechnology Company of the YearInfosys, TCS, Tech MahindraInvestor in Climate Action AwardEVage, Hero, OlaSocial Impact Project of the YearAster, Faizal & Shabana Foundation *The complete list can be found here. The winners have been chosen by an eminent UAE-India Awards 2022 Jury:H.E. Ambassador Dr Ahmed Al Banna, Former Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to IndiaNikhil Kamath, Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer, Zerodha & True BeaconZubin Jal Karkaria, Founder & CEO, VFS GlobalEman Abdulrazzaq, Group Chief Human Resource Officer, Emirates NBDSunil Kaushal, Regional CEO, Africa & Middle East, Standard Chartered Bank The awards gala brings the second UAE edition of India Global Forum to a close at the end of a high-power week of keynote addresses, fireside chats, roundtables and studio conversations, with senior ministers, business leaders, lawmakers and influential thought leaders covering diverse subjects from climate change to geopolitics, fintech innovations to greentech challenges. Some of the high-profile speakers over the course of the week included:Hon. Dr S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, Government of IndiaHon. Bhupendra Yadav, Minister of Labour & Employment and Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of IndiaHon. Sunjay Sudhir, Ambassador of India to UAE, Government of IndiaH.E. Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for AI, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, UAEH.E. Reem Bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, Government of UAEDr Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Skill Development, Entrepreneurship, Electronics and IT, Government of IndiaMichael Bloomberg, Founder, Bloomberg A full list of speakers can be accessed here at India Global Forum/ Speakers and to follow the sessions live or playback any missed sessions, Login Here (Free). For more information on the event and a full programme, click here.

WhatsApp unveils new features including 32-person calls

Meta has introduced new features for better connecting. This includes group calls.The following are the new features unveiled: 32-person calls: You can now start a video or voice call on your mobile device with up to 32 people — four times the previous amount.Message or mute participants: Long pressing on a participant will enlarge the video or audio feed and allow you to either mute or message them separately, while keeping the calls going.Call links: Whether you’re making a last-minute call or planning one ahead, you can easily invite people to a group call by sharing a call link.It has also made functional changes for a more seamless calling experience:Colorful waveforms: Now, you can easily see who is speaking if their camera is off.Picture in Picture on iOS: Now in beta testing and rolling out in 2023, easily multitask while on a call thanks to a minimized in-call video screen.“While WhatsApp is best known for bringing private and secure messaging to people across the world, more people are using it as a way to connect with voice and video calls. That’s why over the course of this year we’ve launched several improvements to calling on WhatsApp, for catching up with friends and family, colleagues and communities securely,” said the company.

World’s first international Digital Economy Court unveils new specialised rules,

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts today announced the launch of a new set of industry-first specialised Rules for its recently formed Digital Economy Court (DEC) Division.In addition, leading international judicial expertise has been recruited to oversee and operate the new Court’s cutting-edge digital infrastructure and service capabilities. Under Decree No. 29 of 2022, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, has appointed Justice Michael Black of England & Wales, who will oversee the Digital Economy Court Division.Following the announcement of the dedicated Division in 2021, a global panel of lawyers, led by Tom Montagu-Smith KC and Matthew Watson of 3VB Chambers, and industry experts, were tasked to draft and confirm new specialised Rules, which were also subject to a 30-day public consultation and finalised under the supervision of Justice Michael Black.Reviewed and approved by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, and President of the DIFC, the new ‘Part 58’ of the DIFC Courts Rules will facilitate the efficient and modern resolution of digital economy disputes, standardising the use of smart forms to provide information through a dynamic, artificial intelligence driven platform. In line with the Courts’ paperless mandate, cases will also be conducted using advanced digital systems to expedite service to parties and enforcement, with a view to reducing the environmental impact of court proceedings.In 2021, the DIFC Courts established the Digital Economy Court Division to oversee sophisticated national and transnational disputes related to current and emerging technologies across areas ranging from big data, blockchain, AI, fintech, and cloud services, to disputes also involving unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), 3D printing, and robotics.Justice Omar Al Mheiri, Director, DIFC Courts, said: “The DIFC Courts has continued its trajectory to provide Dubai, the UAE, and the world, with a suite of dispute resolution services that truly break through the barrier of traditional public court services. Businesses that can adapt to embrace the future digital economy will do so with the knowledge that there is a sophisticated yet efficient venue to support and protect the continuity of business projects.With the digital economy fast emerging as a prime accelerant of global business, these specialised Rules have been engineered to strengthen our mission of building a courts system that not only absorbs current dispute resolution needs but can flex to address and resolve new emerging disputes. This strategy has been further reinforced by ensuring we blend leading judicial expertise with innovative technological implementations.”In 2022, the DIFC Courts issued a judgment in the case of (1) Gate Mena DMCC (2) Huobi Mena FZE v (1) Tabarak Investment Capital Limited (2) Christian Thurner which related to one of the first cryptocurrency litigation disputes in the region and one of the few reported cases anywhere in the world which addresses issues such as the safe transfer of cryptocurrency between buyer and seller and the obligations owed by a custodian of cryptocurrency. This case gave rise to various other interesting questions such as the nature of Bitcoins, i.e., whether cryptocurrencies are considered commodities, currencies, properties, or something entirely different, and the appropriate time to value Bitcoins.From November 26 - 27, the DIFC Courts held a virtual Moot Court, inviting 18 teams of international law students and 25 qualified judges to hold a two-day competition to test-proof the new DEC Rules across a dispute involving cryptocurrency.

Netflix celebrates a decade of Open Connect for smooth streaming

It has been a decade since Netflix launched its Open Connect programme, an infrastructure that efficiently delivers quality entertainment to it members — no matter where they are around the world or what device they’re watching on — in partnership with internet service providers (ISPs) worldwide.  It was in 2012 that Netflix premiered Lilyhammer, its first original series, and expanded to Europe, launching in the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Even in the early days of streaming, with 2.4 billion internet users worldwide and rapidly ballooning, it was clear that easy and flexible access to high-quality entertainment over the internet was soon going to become the norm. In anticipation of this growing demand from consumers and in line with our long-term vision of entertaining the world, we knew we had to invest in our own global content delivery network — and that’s how the Open Connect programme was born,” said Gina Haspilaire, Vice President, Open Connect Partnerships and Planning Content Delivery, Netflix. How does it work Every time a member presses play, Netflix want them to have the best possible viewing experience with high definition and no lag. It builds and installs servers close to where its members are, so Netflix’s shows and films are streamed from nearby, not from halfway around the world. To date, the streamer has 18,000 servers in 6,000 locations (and growing) across 175 countries. This reduces the load on networks, reducing traffic and costs for operators all around the world, which allows the streamer to smoothly deliver fan-favorites like Red Notice and Bridgerton seamlessly to members.Open Connect is built to collaborate with ISP partners around the globe. When the streamer anticipates high streaming demand for popular content, Open Connect identifies the most efficient delivery route based on ISPs preferences, and ensures that the show or film is available on local servers ahead of time. So, even when demand is at its highest, members can be assured that they can access must-watch series like Squid Game and Stranger Things and join in real-time conversations around these global hits. “This helps our ISP partners avoid paying extra fees for delivering content from a further distance. We estimate that in 2021 alone, the programme helped ISPs to avoid $1.25 billion in spend, allowing the growing demand from consumers to be handled sustainably without having to build out additional network infrastructure over time. Additionally, our improved video compression technology means that Netflix now delivers content at half the bitrate of five years ago, lessening the load on all our networks,” said Gina Haspilaire. “Netflix continues to invest in must-watch, fan-favorite series and films, and we hope to see network improvements that meets consumer demands and that the internet remains open and free without tolls on content usage online — so that people can continue to enjoy great stories from around the world,” she adds.

Abu Dhabi welcomes world’s best esports players for BLAST Premier World Final

 This year’s BLAST Premier World Final, one of the elite global esports tournaments, kicked off in Abu Dhabi from Wednesday (14th December) with eight of the world’s best teams set to compete for the chance to be Counter-Strike champions of 2022.BLAST has partnered with AD Gaming, a pioneering gaming and esports initiative to bring its season-ending tournament to the UAE capital for the first time as part of a three-year partnership.To run until 18th December at Yas Island’s Etihad Arena, the World Final will see eight of the world’s biggest esports organisations battle for glory in the seventh and last event of BLAST Premier tournament series, which will have a prize pool of USD $1 million.Among the top sides to feature are FaZe Clan (ESL Pro League 15, NAVI, (BLAST Premier Spring Final), Team Vitality (ESL Pro League 16), Outsiders (IEM Rio Major) and Heroic (BLAST Premier Fall Final). They will be joined by G2 Esports, Team Liquid and OG Esports, who finished in the top three in the World Final Leaderboard.Representing the teams will be some of the biggest esports players including Team Vitality’s ‘dupreeh’, who has won four majors, and ‘s1mple’ of NAVI - widely considered as one of the greatest and most accomplished professional gamers and esports players of all-time with 21 HLTV MVP medals and a Major.The event aligns with AD Gaming’s wider strategy and commitment to aggregate Abu Dhabi’s drive to build a thriving gaming and esports ecosystem, and continue to promote the city as a global gaming hub.The event will also attract some of the biggest names in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia’s popular gaming creator BanderitaX along with professional Fortnite players NM7 and spyerfrog.They will be among a host of top gamers, influencers and content creators including Basharkk,” and Galaxy Racer’s professional Fortnite players “Souriano” and “g1ntl” with spectators able to meet the stars in person.

MEPRA hosts its Premier Awards Night, fetes best PR campaigns and teams

 The Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) hosted its largest-ever Awards edition on 8th December, 2022 with more than 500 guests in attendance to witness prestigious Middle East-based agencies and in-house communication teams finalists battling it for top recognition across 44 award categories.The Awards ceremony not only witnessed exemplary communication campaigns that were conceptualized and executed by local PR teams but also demonstrated the kind of impact they had on society. According to the Awards organizers, this exhibited the value the industry is adding to businesses and organizations in the region.This year’s awards, which attracted close to 800 entries, saw PR teams contest in various categories including Best in Market, People & Teams, Techniques, and Sector & Services for a chance to showcase their creativity.The Large Agency of the Year award went to Hill + Knowlton Strategies while Brazen MENA scooped the Small Agency of the Year award. Unsurprisingly, this category was fiercely contested with only a few points separating the overall winner and second place in the category, demonstrating how super competitive this coveted title continues to be. The Best Homegrown Agency went to Gambit Communications with Hill + Knowlton Strategies bagging the Best Integrated Campaign award. Dubai-based Matrix PR - the only agency in the Small Agency category to win seven awards in multiple categories - maintained its winning streak after scooping Gold in the Best Financial Services category.In the Sector and Services category, the Best Business to Business and Best Consumer Good awards went to Tarsus and Four MENA and Gambit Communications, respectively. The Techniques category, The Best Use of Digital Communications and Best Use Media Relations went to Hill + Knowlton Strategies and Red Havas ME, respectively. The Best in Market category saw Memac Ogilvy scoop the Best Campaign in the UAE while Hill + Knowlton Strategies scooped the Best Campaign in Saudi Arabia. Weber Shandwick MENAT and Mastercard won the Best Campaign in Bahrain while Weber Shandwick MENAT and Mastercard emerged as the winner in Best Campaign in Egypt.Bagging 25 awards, Weber Shandwick MENAT was the most-awarded agency of the 2022 MEPRA Awards night, followed closely by Memac Ogilvy with 18 and H+K with 16. Gambit Communications scooped this year’s Home Grown Agency of the Year award while the Lifetime Achievement Award went to Mazen Nahawi, founder and CEO CARMA, and SOCIALEYEZ. Mazen, who is also the president of News Group, an organization focused on serving the communications and PR industry, is a PR stalwart with over 15 years of experience. Tapping his journalism background, Mazen believes in using actionable and measurable information as a catalyst for modernisation and progress in emerging markets is the driving principle behind his achievements. In 2007, Mazen launched the Middle East PR Measurement Summit, a major gathering of global PR and measurement professionals.This year’s Young Communicator of the Year Agency Award went to Raneem Saleh from H+K. The Fellowship Recognition was honored to Ray Eglington for his large contribution to the industry and MEPRA throughout the year as a farewell. With nearly three decades of communications experience in leading agency and in-house positions, Ray’s insightful approach to communications and industry development has been instrumental is shaping the regional PR landscape. His notable achievements include leading award-winning campaigns and teams in corporate reputation, brand-building, issues management and campaigning, across a wide range of business sectors as well as co-founding Four Communications Group in London, which has gone on to become one of the most successful independent communications agencies in the world.This year marked the 14th edition of the MEPRA Awards – an annual initiative that celebrates and recognizes the Middle East’s most impactful and creative campaigns.“The MEPRA Awards ceremony has once again exposed some of the industry’s communications experts who are going above and beyond to create not just memorable events but impactful PR campaigns that are touching lives in the region. By recognizing such brilliant talent, MEPRA is encouraging growth in industry standards, skills, and creativity. We are proud to create a platform where real PR heroes can be recognized for their noble ideas as well as their contribution to the industry as a whole. Congratulations to all finalists and winners,” said Rym Rahal, general manager, MEPRA.Entries were assessed by a panel of more than 65 regional and international industry experts to select the 2022 finalists and winners. The 2022 MEPRA Awards is supported by corporate and agency partners including, Diamond Sponsor Weber Shandwick, Acorn Strategy, and APCO Worldwide.The star-studded ceremony also included an appearance by the Ravi brothers flanked by the adidas team donning their superstar adidas footwear by Ravi, reflecting the stunning and triple gold-winning campaign adidas Originals and Ravi Restaurant by Red Havas in the categories - Best Fashion or Beauty Campaign, Best Retail Campaign and Best Use of Media Relations (Consumer/Trade).To view the full list of winners visit: /awards

Ooredoo ensures seamless connectivity

 Ooredoo – the Official Middle East & Africa Telecommunications Operator of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM - has expressed its gratitude to the many roaming partners with whom it worked to ensure the success of the event from a telecommunications perspective.Statistics show Ooredoo Qatar welcomed a whopping 1.3 million people on its roaming network while attending the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM, a figure made possible by the numerous partners with whom Ooredoo signed contracts in preparation.Ooredoo welcomed roaming guests from more than 500 partner networks across the world, with more than 90 networks experiencing the company’s 5G speeds to radically transform visitors’ connectivity experience. The surge in roaming traffic ranged from 140% up to a phenomenal 269%.Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulla Al Thani, Deputy Group CEO and CEO of Ooredoo Qatar, said: “We are proud of the telecommunications experience we are offering during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM, and extend our sincere thanks to all the network partners with whom we have collaborated to enable this success and ensure seamless connectivity. With visitors from all across the globe, it was vital that we were able to make sure they could stay connected as they do at home and share their World CupTM experience with friends and loved ones.”Roaming usage was highest from countries neighbouring Qatar, such as GCC countries and India, and countries participating in the tournament, including Argentina, the USA and Brazil.Sheikh Mohammed added: “We were delighted to be recognised by many of our partners and renowned industry bodies for our efforts to ensure an upgraded fan experience with uninterrupted roaming connectivity for our visitors. We are proud to have lived up to expectations, delivering an experience befitting our prestigious status as Official Middle East Telecommunications Operator of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Saudi Arabian Football Federation and Ecuadorian counterparts commit to new MoU

The Saudi Arabian Football Association (SAFF) has entered a new agreement with the Ecuadorian Football Federation (EFF) with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Doha today.As the first agreement of its type to be signed between SAFF and a CONMEBOL Member Association, the MoU represents a new chapter for Saudi Arabia’s football ties with the South American region.The partnership aims to advance both federations’ shared goals and objectives to grow football on pitch and off in their respective countries. It addresses a wide variety of areas including, but not limited to, talent identification, refereeing, coaching, technical development, governance, women’s football and sports science.SAFF president Yasser Almisehal and EFF counterpart Francisco Egas signed the official agreement at a signing ceremony held at Saudi House, Saudi football’s dedicated home on Doha’s corniche.Ahead of both countries’ FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 campaigns, Saudi Arabia and Ecuador faced off in a friendly match in Murcia’s Estadio Nueva Condomina in June that ended in a 0-0 draw.In recent years, SAFF put pen to paper to over 20 similar agreements with other federations across the globe, including the likes of Croatia, India, Singapore and Ivory Coast, as the country progresses its footballing ambitions and strengthens partnerships across the world.“We are delighted to signal a new era of partnership between us and our good friends at the Ecuadorian Football Federation. Ecuadorian football resonates with fans across the globe as the country has produced numerous football stars in recent years and consistently qualified to the FIFA World Cup,” said Al Misehal.He added: “Today’s agreement forms as part of our strong efforts at SAFF to grow our positive influence and collaboration with all regions and members associations. We are confident this MoU will build on our existing relationship with the EFF and bring focus and structure to it moving forward. There are plenty of opportunities for us to learn from each other and collaborate on to benefit the beautiful game across our football-passionate countries.”Earlier last month, Al Misehal joined the opening ceremony of CONMEBOL's dedicated FIFA World Cup pavilion –Tree of Dreams – in Doha, representing another sign of the strong ties between Saudi Arabia and the South American governing body and its member associations.For more information about Saudi football, you can visit the SAFF website:

Nutanix rewards partners across its entire ecosystem

 Nutanix , a leader in hybrid multicloud computing, today announced the introduction of its new Referral Program, designed to reward partners across the entire lifecycle of any project.Part of Nutanix’s innovative Elevate Partner Program, the Referral Program changes the traditional partner-vendor relationship model and recognises the entire partner ecosystem, rather than just the ones that transact the deal.It recognises partners’ different business models and the ecosystem of partners that customers engage with, depending on where they are with their buying cycle. In particular, it rewards partners who help customers shape their strategy early in the buying cycle, as well as ISV partners who engage more with line of business at the application level, but might not be involved in the end transaction.At its core, the Referral Program means that Nutanix is able to recognise all partners involved in a customer’s buying journey and help build profitable partnerships. This gives a clear signal to the industry of the value that Nutanix places on its entire partner ecosystem and the customers they serve. It also highlights how the Nutanix Elevate Partner Program framework is continuing to evolve to maximise partner profitability, based around the opportunities at hand.Adam Tarbox, Vice President of EMEA Channel Sales at Nutanix, said: “Analysts talk about how customers engage with at least seven partners across the lifecycle of any project and there are multiple touchpoints. Despite this, vendors have traditionally tended to only concern themselves with and reward the partners involved in actual transactions, forgetting the whole ecosystem around each deal and how it comes to life. We’re changing that, and our new Referral Program is intended to reward more of our partners who are involved across the process – especially those who help customers to shape their strategies in the early stages of any project and support them through the buying process.”For further details on the Nutanix Elevate Partner Program, please visit:

Global Women in PR MENA announces new Board Member

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Chapter of Global Women in PR (GWPR), a global membership organisation connecting women in senior PR and communications roles, announces that Louise Jacobson, Managing Partner of Brazen MENA, has joined as a new board member.Jacobson has 21 years of experience in communications in the UK and GCC. In 2015 she launched Brazen MENA, a multi-award award-winning PR agency based in Dubai Media City.Rachel Dunn, GWPR MENA Co- Chair and Communications Director at Microsoft MENA, said: “We are delighted to have Louise Jacobson join GWPR MENA as a Board Member. We look forward to benefitting from her rich experience, knowledge and insights in the communications field as we continue our mission to provide effective support to our talented female leaders across the region.”Louise Jacobson said: “I am excited and honoured to be on the Board of GWPR MENA as I’m hugely passionate about women in business, leadership, and communications, and tackling the issues that matter to us as we collectively strive for gender balance.“Having been a member since the MENA chapter was launched some years ago, the strides the organisation has made to connect women in our industry have been impactful in so many ways, and I’m very much looking forward to helping take GWPR MENA to the next level.”GWPR MENA board members also includes co-chair, Loretta Ahmed, Founder and CEO of Houbara Communications, Naamat Baradhy Senior Advisor at ManaraGlobal and Purti Simon Vice President at Teneo.Applications for GWPR MENA memberships can be made by emailing

Sheikh Ahmed approves launch of Dubai Media Grid

Ahmed bin Mohammed chairs Dubai Media Council meeting and issues directives to launch ‘Dubai Media Grid’‘Dubai Media Grid’ seeks to strengthen coordination between various components of the media to communicate the progress of the emirate’s development journey Meeting discusses Council’s initiatives and the media sector’s performanceAhmed bin Mohammed directs organisation of retreat to further discuss DMI’s development planMona Al Marri: The launch of the latest phase of the #DubaiDestinations campaign weaves together compelling narratives to highlight the emirate’s emergence as one of the world’s top winter destinationsHis Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Media Council, presided over the fourth meeting of the Dubai Media Council, in the presence of Her Excellency Mona Al Marri, Vice Chairperson and Managing Director of the Council, and other members of the Council.The meeting reviewed the implementation of the Council’s strategic plans aimed at enhancing Dubai Media Incorporated’s (DMI) competitiveness and further raising the quality of its content. His Highness issued directives to organise a retreat to discuss the organisation’s development plan.HH Sheikh Ahmed said, accelerating the implementation of the Council’s strategy for DMI is vital to ensuring the organisation keeps pace with the rapid evolution of media. All sectors of the organisation including print, broadcast and digital should work closely with each other to tap growth synergies, he added. The DMI strategy is based on a comprehensive study of the company’s resources and capabilities and an assessment of its goals for the next phase of its growth.During the meeting, His Highness issued directives to launch the ‘Dubai Media Grid’, an initiative aimed at strengthening coordination between various components of the media to communicate the progress of the emirate’s development journey to key audiences. Sheikh Ahmed said Dubai’s growth as a global economic hub necessitates the creation of a media platform to better streamline and further strengthen coordinated efforts to communicate its achievements and development initiatives.Her Excellency Mona Al Marri said: “Under the directives of HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed and supported by the efforts of Dubai Media Council’s members, we have developed a comprehensive strategy covering various aspects of DMI’s development in line with Dubai’s vision for the future. The Council is committed to providing all the resources needed for the development of media content and the support necessary for both seasoned and young professionals in the organisation to deliver excellence.”Al Marri said the launch of the latest phase of the #DubaiDestinations campaign weaves together compelling narratives to highlight the emirate’s emergence as one of the world’s top winter destinations. The campaign gives content creators of all nationalities an opportunity to contribute content that showcases Dubai’s emergence as the world’s best city to live in and visit.The Council’s meeting also discussed DMI’s budget for 2022-2023. The meeting reviewed various elements of the budget which will support all DMI sectors in achieving their goals in the next phase of development. The meeting discussed how the budget will support DMI’s plan to enhance its growth across print, broadcast and digital media. The Dubai Media Council meeting also explored strategic initiatives and projects to enhance Dubai's competitiveness as a leading media hub.During the meeting, Amal bin Shabib, Member of the Dubai Media Council, delivered a presentation on new initiatives to encourage Emirati youth to work in the industry. The meeting also discussed ways to identify and nurture young Emirati talent, which represents one of the Council’s highest priorities.Her Excellency Hala Badri, Director General of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and member of the Dubai Media Council, delivered a presentation on the success of cultural events in Dubai that attracted the participation of over 200,000 people. Dubai Culture attracted 10 eSports companies and approved more than 4,000 cultural visas, she said.The meeting touched on the role of media in enhancing Dubai’s stature as a cultural and creative hub and the Arab Media Capital. It also discussed the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy’s aim of transforming Dubai into the capital of the global creative economy by 2026.The meeting was attended by Dubai Media Council members, Her Excellency Hala Yousuf Badri, His Excellency Malek Sultan Al Malek, Abdullah Humaid Belhoul, Younes Al Nasser, Amal bin Shabib, Issam Kazim, Mohammed Sulaiman Al Mulla, and Nehal Badri, Secretary General of the Council.

DET announces launch of annual Dubai Tourism Summit

Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) has announced the launch of the annual Dubai Tourism Summit, a first-of-its-kind travel forum in the region, which will lay the foundation for a home-grown world-class thought leadership programme to boost the city’s resurgent tourism industry and support regional and global tourism.The DET announced the forum today at its bi-annual ‘City Briefing’ event held during the Skift Global Forum East, the first-ever MENA extension of the Skift Global Forum. The Dubai Tourism Summit will provide a networking platform for industry stakeholders to share their vision, ideas, strategies and best practices, as well as insights on leveraging the latest innovations and trends to create a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable future for global tourism.The DET also shared the latest tourism report for the first ten months of 2022. Data showed that Dubai welcomed 11.4 million international overnight visitors between January and October, an impressive year-on-year increase of 134 percent, taking the city further on its journey to becoming the world’s most visited destination.The DET’s ‘City Briefing’ was presided over by Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director-General of DET, and attended by more than 1,000 executives from across the tourism ecosystem, including aviation, travel, hospitality and retail sectors. The meeting provided an update and outlook on the industry. It explored ways to continue accelerating the momentum to reinforce Dubai’s position as a global hub for business, investment, talent and tourism.Helal Al Marri said, “We are grateful to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, for his visionary leadership, inspiration and guidance that has led to several milestones in 2022. Dubai has always been an international icon of innovation and excellence. The Dubai Tourism Summit will see us working even more closely with our domestic and global stakeholders and partners as we focus on pushing the boundaries further to highlight Dubai’s position as the top international destination and the best city in the world to live in, work and invest. With the Dubai Tourism Summit, we will elevate our blueprint for sustainable growth, contributing towards our industry’s continued success and supporting the recovery of regional and global tourism.”Al Marri added, “Our performance in the first ten months of 2022 indicates that we are on target to achieving our tourism goals, which dovetail with the UAE Tourism Strategy 2031 announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to attract AED100 billion as additional tourism investments and 40 million hotel guests by 2031. It is also a testament to our city’s resilience, robust and diversified market strategy, solid collaboration model between the government and private sectors, and the strength of the city’s diverse destination proposition. We are well-placed to end this year on a resounding note and perform even better in 2023 and beyond, steadfastly supported by our aviation, travel and hospitality partners, who continue to champion Dubai’s position as the first-choice destination for global travellers.”Key markets continue to deliver on tourism volumesThe 11.4 million international overnight visitors who arrived in Dubai between January and October 2022 represented a quantum leap over the 4.88 million visitors that the city welcomed for the same period in 2021. The numbers are close to the pre-pandemic record of 13.50 million international visitors in the first ten months of 2019. Dubai’s international tourism arrivals significantly outperformed other major global destinations, giving Dubai a head start on post-pandemic recovery.Hospitality sector shines across many metricsParticipants were also briefed on the hospitality sector’s outstanding success, as it played a significant part in Dubai’s impressive rebound. Dubai’s growing popularity among global travellers is evident in the fact that there were 54 million online searches for Dubai per month during Q3 2022, which was close to pre-pandemic levels, with bookings in the last few months surpassing pre-pandemic levels.Dubai shares limelight with other global cities with 71 percent occupancyAverage hotel occupancy in Dubai between January-October 2022 stood at 71 percent, one of the highest hotel occupancies in the world. This compares to 64 percent in the corresponding period of last year and just short of the 74 percent during the pre-pandemic period of 2019. Dubai’s occupancy continues to closely trail the top benchmark cities: Istanbul (75 percent), New York (74 percent), Paris (73 percent), London (73 percent) and Los Angeles (72 percent).Hotels register strong growth; supply up by 18 percent over pre-pandemic levelsDubai’s hotel inventory in October 2022 comprised 144,737 rooms at 790 hotel establishments compared with 122,185 rooms available at the end of October 2019 across 724 establishments. The total number of hotels in the first ten months of 2022 saw an 8 percent growth over the same period in 2021, highlighting strong investor confidence in Dubai’s tourism sector.The hotel sector outperformed pre-pandemic levels across all other key measurements: Occupied Room Nights, Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR). Despite the significant 18 percent increase in supply compared with pre-pandemic levels, Dubai hotels achieved strong growth across ADR and REVPAR over 2019 levels. Dubai hotel establishments delivered a combined 30.40 million occupied room nights during the first ten months of the year, a 23 percent YTD growth and a 17 percent increase over the corresponding pre-pandemic period of 2019, which yielded 26.01 million occupied room nights.The ADR of AED506 in the first ten months of 2022 surpassed the ADRs for the first ten months of 2021 (AED384) and 2019 (AED400), with a 32 percent increase in ADR in YTD October 2022 vs YTD October 2021 and a 27 percent increase vs YTD October 2019. The stellar performance of the hotel sector is also demonstrated in RevPAR growth: a 48 percent increase in RevPAR in YTD October 2022 vs YTD October 2021 (AED362 vs AED245) and 23 percent vs pre-pandemic YTD October 2019.

Jeff Zucker, RedBird Capital, International Media Investments launch JV

 Jeff Zucker, RedBird Capital Partners (“RedBird”) and International Media Investments (“IMI”) today announced that they have partnered to create RedBird IMI, a joint venture investment vehicle focused on acquiring and investing in large scale media, entertainment and sports content properties on a global basis. RedBird IMI launches with initial committed capital of $1 billion.Jeff Zucker is the Chief Executive Officer of RedBird IMI, and he has also joined RedBird as an Operating Partner. Mr. Zucker brings more than three decades of leadership experience across news, sports, entertainment and digital innovation to the new venture. Mr. Zucker was the CEO of CNN from 2013 to 2022, leading a transformative turnaround of the global brand. He also was the President of Turner Sports from 2019 to 2022.  Prior to that, he spent 25 years at NBC Universal, where he served as the CEO from 2007 to 2011. In 2007, he co-founded the online streaming service Hulu.Jeff Zucker said, “I've spent 35 years running media businesses at the intersection of news, sports and entertainment, creating new brands and resurrecting old ones. That experience has given me unparalleled perspective for this unique time in media, and the combination of the RedBird and IMI capital and strategic discipline, combined with my operational experience, will give this joint venture a unique advantage in the current media landscape.”Nart Bouran, CEO of IMI, said, “The RedBird IMI joint venture has come together at an important time as the media industry continues to evolve in both content creation and distribution to meet the evolving expectations of consumers globally. Partnering with Jeff Zucker and Gerry Cardinale will enable us to bring tremendous operational, investing and financial expertise to make impactful and transformative investments across the media, entertainment and sports landscapes.”Gerry Cardinale, RedBird Founder and Managing Partner, said, “We are very pleased to partner with IMI to create a long-term, fully capitalized investment vehicle that can own and operate content-focused businesses across the media spectrum in the US and globally. The skill and experience of the combined team will allow us to identify assets that will benefit from the deployment of success-based capital to further scale or diversify, while also enabling the development of new companies competitively advantaged as market and consumer trends continue to evolve. With Jeff as our CEO, this platform will integrate substantial operating expertise with sophisticated financial and investing acumen to deploy transformational capital on a scaled basis.”

Dubai Shopping Malls Group all set to give AED 1mln in cash prizes this DSF

Dubai Shopping Malls Group (DSMG) today announced the return of its highly anticipated Spin & Win campaign this Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) edition. Decked with plentiful shopping rewards and remarkable deals, shoppers are in for a treat from 15 December 2022 to 29 January 2023 across 16 participating malls Adding to the dazzle is DSMG’s DSF campaign as part of which 25 lucky shoppers spending AED 200 or more at any of the participating malls have the opportunity to take home cash prizes worth a whopping AED 1 million by entering the raffle.The 25 lucky shortlisted shoppers will be invited to the DSF main stage and can spin the wheel to win cash prizes of denominations starting at AED 10,000 and progressing through 15,000, 20,000, 25,000, 30,000 and 40,000.Majid Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Shopping Malls Group, commented: “We are delighted to bring back the annual Spin & Win campaign this year where shoppers can once again browse through the myriad of available selections and immerse in the unique ambience and fervour at our participating malls. At DSMG, we have the vision to provide the ultimate shopping experience and rewards for our patrons, and we believe this year’s promotion will mark a new milestone in our shopper reward journey and delight customers everywhere.” Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) commented: “Dubai’s retail sector is a central pillar of our economy, creating jobs and opportunities across the emirate and beyond. At DFRE, we are proud of the role we play in positioning Dubai as the world’s leading shopping destination. But we can only achieve this by working with trusted partners, like the Dubai Shopping Malls Group. It is these partnerships that enable us to further enhance shopping experiences for our residents and visitors – and to innovate and expand our offering to retain our sector leadership.”The malls participating in the Dubai Shopping Malls Group Diwali promotion this year include Al Barsha Mall, Al Barsha South Mall, Al Ghurair Centre, Al Bustan Centre, Al Khail Gate,, Al Warqa City Mall, Arabian Centre, Bay Avenue, Century Mall, Dubai Outlet Mall, Dubai Festival Plaza, Etihad Mall, Karama Centre, Lulu Silicon Central, Nad Al Hamar, Serena Marketplace.For more information, visit

Fake reviews are eroding digital trust and impacting retailers’ revenue

We may have entered a post-truth world, but the damage being caused by fake reviews is very real. Callsign, the digital trust pioneer, has today delivered a stark warning to the industry: tackle fake reviews or get ready to see sales drop.Counting the CostImpacting digital trust and ultimately leading to a loss of revenue for brands and retailers, unverified users leaving fake reviews is becoming a widespread problem.A recent report by World Economic Forum indicates that online reviews influenced a staggering $3.8 trillion of global e-commerce spending in 2021. As products fail to live up to these bogus reviews, consumers’ trust is dwindling, with many saying they trust online reviews less than they did just 12 months ago.Especially concerning for retailers was the revelation that if consumers suspect a product has fake reviews, 28% stated they would no longer trust that brand, and 25% would not purchase from the website.A Growing ConcernCallsign adds that action must be taken quickly: with the problem of fake reviews set to expand unless new solutions are put in place. Self-reported figures from leading e-commerce sites show that around 4% of all online reviews are fake.Even trusted online retailers are not immune to the problem and have become a prime target for large-scale fake review schemes by so-called ‘review farms.“Fake and unverified reviews are symptomatic of a broken digital identity system which lacks accountability,” says Saeed Ahmad, Managing Director of Callsign MENA.“To leave a retail review, we don’t have to prove who we are or that we’ve made a genuine purchase. Fake reviews are fast eroding digital trust and damaging businesses, their brand and impacting revenue,” he added.

New IDC study examines the critical role of AI in SA's digital transformation

Saudi Arabia is on the cusp of an artificial intelligence (AI) revolution. AI is at the core of the Kingdom's massive economic transformation programs, including ambitious futuristic infrastructure projects. Organizations across both the public and private sectors are increasingly embracing AI, with International Data Corporation (IDC) expecting adoption of the technology to grow massively over the coming years.The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) has been at the forefront of promoting AI adoption across the Kingdom and is contributing immensely toward fostering an environment for the development of a comprehensive AI ecosystem. With this critical goal in mind, the SDAIA organized the landmark second edition of the Global AI Summit in September this year. Hosted in Riyadh, the summit showcased Saudi Arabia's promising plans to become an international hotbed for AI adoption and development.With AI taking center stage in the rapidly evolving technological landscape of Saudi Arabia, IDC has undertaken a comprehensive study — titled 'Artificial Intelligence: The DNA of Saudi Arabia's Transformation' — in strategic partnership with the SDAIA to capture the current state of AI in the country. Launched at today's IDC Saudi Arabia Government Congress 2022, which hosted more than 100 of the Kingdom's most influential IT and digital leaders, the study begins by examining latest global developments in the AI arena, with a focus on the following elements:The history of AI, its key components, the importance of data, and key use casesNational AI initiatives undertaken by key global economies, global AI spending, and the significant benefits derived by economies, industries, and societiesGlobal AI best practices, international regulatory legislation, and the policy environment for AI adoption and innovationThe report then presents an extensive exploration into the following aspects of Saudi Arabia's evolving AI landscape:The role of AI in the Saudi Vision 2030 initiativeThe key trends shaping the Kingdom's AI landscape, AI ecosystem development, AI skills development, and stakeholder engagementsThe impact of AI in Saudi Arabia and commentary on essential use casesThe role of legislation, regulations, policies, and initiatives in shaping AI development across the countryThe barriers and challenges to AI adoption in the KingdomThe future outlook for AI in Saudi Arabia  "AI is humanity's next giant leap, and Saudi Arabia has done well to appreciated its importance early on," says Hamza Naqshbandi, IDC's associate vice president for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. "The Saudi government has made significant advancements in digitally transforming itself by effectively utilizing innovative and emerging technologies to deliver upon key business priorities, including citizen experience, digital operations, sustainability, and security. As Saudi Arabia accelerates its drive to become a true digital economy, artificial intelligence capabilities will be embedded into every single digital transformation initiative that is undertaken."Commenting on the importance of AI to Saudi Arabia's future, Majid Ali Al-Shehry, general manager of the SDAIA's Studies Department, says: "Based on our belief that data is the oil of the future, we at the SDAIA, are working to unlock the potential value of data through a value chain that covers all aspects of operation, regulation, and innovation."Sourav Bhanja, IDC's associate vice president for consulting in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, says, "Saudi Arabia's national digital transformation goals would benefit greatly from a collaborative effort around AI across government entities, research organizations, local and global enterprises, and emerging start-ups. The key drivers for AI innovation and adoption in the Kingdom will be the need to improve operations through intelligent automation, enhance customer and citizen experiences, manage skills shortages, augment workforce capabilities, and create new digital business models."

Reboot01, a new world-class coding institute comes to Bahrain

Reboot01 in partnership with 01Talent, an internationally renowned IT education program provider, launches a revolutionary coding institute, in the capital of Bahrain.Supported by Tamkeen, Reboot01 mission is to bring a life-changing training that will open the door to great Tech jobs. No degree or background requirement is needed. After passing the equal opportunity selection process, all candidates will be trained over 2 years in a brand new 1600sqm campus: 18 months of initial training followed by 6 months of chosen specialization fields among Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies, DevOps, Data Science & Artificial Intelligence, Mobile and Web Development, Cybersecurity, Game Development & Augmented Reality (AR) and UI/UX.Based on the proven peer-to-peer platform & pedagogy called 01Edu, learners will work in teams and 100% on projects throughout the curriculum. Beyond the coding skills, it will be a practical and problem-solving experience that is essential to all industries such as banking, IT, service and hospitality, healthcare and government.Currently there are 18 coding schools powered by 01Edu system deployed across Europe and Africa transforming thousands of lives. By joining the 01 Network, Reboot01 aims to fill up this critical digital skills gap in Bahrain and the GCC. Significantly, those schools have had graduates who did not have any university degree and are now earning high salaries as full stack developers!“There is a really easy way for people to understand the impact of this opportunity; simply call a bank and ask them if they are hiring full-stack developers and see how eager they are to interview you.” Says Yanal Jallad, Managing Director, Reboot01 Coding Institute“In a context of talent shortage, we need more digital talent than traditional academic systems can produce and who are more adapted to the new requirements of the companies and our environment. Bahrain is no exception" Says Deror Sultan, Cofounder & CEO, 01Talent International The initial free entrance test is an online game that is designed to be accessible to all. Play the game and see if you have the natural ability to join this high paying world of tech. Supported by Tamkeen and no degree needed, are you ready to change your life?Take the online testéropostale-opens-its-39th-store-in-the-gcc

Apparel Group brand Aéropostale opens its 39th store in the GCC

The leading global and fashion conglomerate, Apparel Group, has recently announced opening of the latest Aéropostale shop at Seef Mall – Seef District, becoming the brand’s 39th store in the GCC.The new Aéropostale store is located on the ground floor between Gate No. 8 and Gate No. 9, offering a wide range of trendy, comfy, and high-quality fashion for men, women, and kids Aéropostale is the leading shopping destination for fashionable young adults, which is also famous for its attractive prices, offers, and products made of eco-friendly fabrics.For over 13 years, Apparel Group has succeeded in doubling the value of the Aéropostale brand thanks to its deep awareness of the needs of consumers in clothing and accessories, exceeding their expectations through innovation in the world of casual fashion. The Group operates Aéropostale stores in the GCC, while Aéropostale stores are also located in several locations worldwide.On this occasion, Mr. Mohammed Al Qaed, Acting Chief Commercial Officer at Seef Properties, commented: “We are pleased to announce the opening of the latest Aéropostale store in Seef Mall – Seef District, which will represent a valuable addition to the group of stores hosted by the mall, which is keen to create a diverse shopping environment that meets the needs of all family members. Seef Mall – Seef District continues to attract more prestigious international brands, thanks to its strategic location in the vibrant business area of Seef District and the modern facilities it provides, making it a preferential destination for tenants of major brand names from around the world.”Neeraj Teckchandani, CEO of Apparel Group, stated: “Over the last few years, Bahrain customers have become increasingly discerning and attentive to global shopping trends while staying true to their culture and roots. Continuing Apparel Group’s commitment to providing an elevated shopping experience to our loyal customers, we are proud to be partnering up with Seef Mall and further expanding our strong retail footprint in the Bahrain market. Our brand’s expansion with Seef Mall is in line with our strategy of being responsive to consumer demand. Bahrain continues to be a strategic market for us and we are proud to be part of the country's growth.”

Colm McLoughlin named Global Brand’s Most Inspiring Leader - Retail in the UAE

Dubai Duty Free’s Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, Colm McLoughlin was named the “Most Inspiring Leader – Retail (UAE)” at the recent Global Brand Awards held at the Waldorf Astoria, The Palm on 10th December.Organised by Global Brand Magazine, the Global Brand Awards celebrate and recognise excellence in performance from brands and leaders across a broad range of sectors.Mr. McLoughlin was acknowledged for his outstanding contribution to the duty-free industry spanning over 53 years and in particular in his role as head of Dubai Duty Free since 1983..Commenting on the award, Mr. McLoughlin said; “'I am delighted that I have been selected to receive this award which I attribute to our team of staff and the effort they make in making our business successful for 39 years. I would also like to thank my Chairman, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum who continues to inspire me and who does an absolutely incredible job.”Sinead El Sibai, Senior Vice President for Marketing of Dubai Duty Free accepted the award on behalf of M.r. McLoughlin.Global Brands Magazine is one of the largest brand publications providing opinions and news related to various brands across the world. The company is headquartered in the United Kingdom. The magazine provides readers with up- to- date news, reviews, opinions and polls on leading brands across the globe

Swissotel Al Ghurair appoints Amal El Ansari as the new GM

Swissotel Al Ghurair and Swissotel Living Al Ghurair is pleased to announce the new appointment of Amal El Ansari as the new General Manager, leading the team and driving the business for the 620-room property.Born and raised in Morocco, she brings a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry and commercials, and provides a strategic vision to the flagship hotel for Accor, connected to the historic Al Ghurair Centre shopping mall. She has been with Accor for 11 years, and held key positions and cluster roles of Director of Sales and Marketing, Hotel Manager and General Manager.Prior to this, she was the General Manager of Novotel Sharjah Expo Centre, and had successfully led her team through the global pandemic, maintaining Accor’s and the owner’s business strategy and upholding the highest standard of safety protocols and guest and employee satisfaction. While working in her role, she has successfully built brand loyalty through proactive communication while delivering impressive revenue results.An international hotelier, with business acumen and strong communication skills, Amal has successfully managed Pullman, Novotel, Ibis, Rotana and Sheraton brands while maintaining excellent relationships with the owners. She advocates innovation and strives to achieve great heights keeping the company’s mission, values and strategy in mind. A strong advocate of diversity and inclusion, she puts “Heartists” or her team members at the centre of the business. “We are in a people-centric industry, and it is of the utmost importance to value our people first, and in turn create a happy and positive environment that leads to the hotel’s commercial success” she says. Some of her key achievements include the Highest Reputation Performance score within the Economy Hotels 2017, the Customer Experience Community – Sparkle of the Month 2018, Highest Reputation Performance Score within “Ibis Brand” Middle East 2019. Amal holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, a Secondary degree in English Literature at Chouaib University Morocco, a Diploma of Technician of Tourism at C. E. G. I. S. Institute in Morocco and a Diploma of German Language. Her certifications include the Digital Distribution Campus by Accor Academy Middle East 2020, Distribution Excellence by Accor Academy Paris 2014, Influential Leadership by Accor Academy Middle East 2011. With exciting projects to lead, focussing on Swissotel’s brand elements of “Vitality”, “Sustainability” and “Craftsmanship”, Amal aims to deliver a strong commercial growth while bringing to life Swissotel’s promise of “Life is a Journey. Live it Well.”

Gartner forecasts MENA IT spending to grow 3.1% in 2023

 IT spending in the Middle East and North Africa region is forecast to total $178.1 billion in 2023 growing 3.1% from 2022, according to Gartner, Inc.Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $4.6 trillion in 2023, an increase of 5.1% from 2022, according to the latest forecast by Gartner, Inc. Demand for IT in 2023 is expected to be strong as enterprises push forward with digital business initiatives in response to economic turmoil.“Enterprise IT spending will be robust as CEOs and CFOs, rather than cutting IT budgets, are increasing spending on digital business initiatives,” said Miriam Burt, Managing VP Analyst at Gartner. “Economic turbulence will change the context for technology investments, increasing spending in some areas and accelerating declines in others, but it is not projected to materially impact the overall level of enterprise technology spending.“However, inflation has cut into consumer purchasing power in almost every country around the world. Consumer purchasing power has been reduced to the point that many consumers are now deferring 2022 device purchases until 2023, driving spending on devices down 8.4% in 2022 and 0.6% in 2023.”The technologies that are being maintained versus those that are driving the business are evident by their projected growth rates in 2023. There is sufficient spending within data center markets to maintain existing on-premises data centers, but new spending continues to shift to cloud options, as evidenced by the 11.3% projected growth for software spending in 2023 (see Table 1).In MENA, all segments will grow in 2023. Software segment is forecast to record the highest growth in MENA in 2023 (see table 2). MENA CIOs will follow the spending trend of their global peers by being cautious about the spending yet will not cut down on investing in tech for future resilience and to reduce business risk. Organizations Continue to Protect Efficiency-Driven Digital InvestmentsIn a down or deteriorating economy, conventional wisdom calls for reducing costs, including IT costs. However, a July 2022 Gartner survey of more than 200 CFOs found that 69% plan to increase their spend on digital technologies, while the 2023 Gartner CIO and Technology Executive Survey found that CIOs are being tasked with accelerating time to value on digital investments.“Companies will use digital technology primarily to reshape their revenue stream, adding new products and services, changing the cash flow of existing products and services, as well as changing the value proposition of existing products and services,” said Burt. “This trend has fed the shift from buying technology to building, composing and assembling technology to meet specific business drivers with agility. This shift is foundational to the growth of cloud over on-premises for new IT spending.“However, as organizations look to also realize operations efficiency, cost reductions and/or cost avoidance during the current economic uncertainty, more traditional back-office and operational needs of departments outside IT are being added to the digital transformation project list.”More detailed analysis on the outlook for global IT spending is available in the Gartner webinar “IT Spend Forecast, 3Q22: Is IT Spending Recession Proof?”  Learn about the top priorities for CIOs in 2022 in the complimentary Gartner ebook 2022 Leadership Vision for Chief Information Officers.Gartner’s IT spending forecast methodology relies heavily on rigorous analysis of the sales by over a thousand vendors across the entire range of IT products and services. Gartner uses primary research techniques, complemented by secondary research sources, to build a comprehensive database of market size data on which to base its forecast.The Gartner quarterly IT spending forecast delivers a unique perspective on IT spending across the hardware, software, IT services and telecommunications segments. These reports help Gartner clients understand market opportunities and challenges. The most recent IT spending forecast research is available to Gartner clients in “Gartner Market Databook, 3Q22 Update.”

Appetito & Jumlaty announce merger to join forces with Nomu

Two foodtech eGroceries startups, Saudi-based Jumlaty and Egypt-based Appetito, announce their merger into a new entity, NOMU. Aiming to become MENA’s leading food-tech supply chain platform, NOMU is currently present in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, with the capacity to cover the existing infrastructure of 25 million people and 100,000 F&B stores including strategic partners such as, Savola, Almarai and and Nestle. “Appetito and Jumlaty have been, separately but similarly, working hard to reinvent the grocery supply chain. Both have focused on reliability, speed, and affordability, building a solid reputation and a loyal customer base of families and F&B businesses. Our merger will set us on the path to reach SAR 100 Million in revenue (USD 25 Million) and positive EBITDA within 2023, with important synergies on the tech, marketing and procurement fronts.” commented Shehab Mokhtar, CEO of Appetito, now CEO of NOMU.The deal was facilitated by a shared mindset and direction, as Salman Attieh, CEO of Jumlaty, now Chairman of NOMU, stated, “Both companies shared the same vision on how to transform the industry, combining smart tech, lean operations with a deep focus on unit economics. Together we capture the entire value chain, from monthly shopping to weekly refills and outdoor dining. Most importantly our journey now as one company will be accelerated thanks to an incredible team of international talents and supportive investors.” Ahmed Demerdash, COO of Appetito, who continues as COO of NOMU comments on the impressive potential of the merge, “Our new entity is now present in four promising countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, with a smart grid of 16 warehouses, and a capacity to cover the existing infrastructure of 25 million people and 100,000 F&B stores, and delivery promises that range from one hour to next day fulfillment”.Speaking on the growth of the company and ambitions to achieve in the coming months, Yassir El Ismaili El Idrissi, Chief Growth and Expansion Officer at Appetito, and now at NOMU, shares, “We are redeploying our tech talent towards advanced AI-based algorithms covering smart pricing, predictive demand planning and LTV optimization, and new community-oriented features including group buying, loyalty and embedded finance. On the marketing front, we will keep local brands where it makes sense and all our apps in all our countries will use a common tech and growth platform.”NOMU will have its headquarters in Riyadh, with a holding structure in Abu Dhabi's International Financial Centre, ideally placed to develop its operations further, with ambitions to cover Pakistan and key sub-Saharan countries in the near future.

Alliance for creativity and entertainment surpasses 50 members

The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), the world’s leading anti-piracy coalition, today welcomed an additional 11 media and entertainment companies from key markets. ACE’s latest expansion brings the total number of member companies to 52.This growth extensively increases ACE’s global network, including key partnerships with local law enforcement and other authorities, and its ability to shut down illegal piracy operations around the world. This year, ACE has added 18 members, including members focused on live sports piracy.“I am extremely proud of ACE’s explosive growth this year, which is a clear reflection of the impact it has had on combating the illegal piracy operations that threaten legal content creators,” said Charles Rivkin, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association and Chairman of ACE. “Every new member has seen firsthand the threat piracy poses to their business, and they recognized that joining ACE is the most effective way to combat that threat. With every new member, ACE grows stronger and better equipped to protect the creative economy.”Jan van Voorn, Executive Vice President and Global Content Protection Chief for the MPA and Head of ACE, said the coalition aims to continue its rapid growth ­– in 2023 and beyond. “To be clear, we’re just getting started,” said van Voorn. “In both the near and long term, ACE will continue to expand our global reach and impact as we pursue and shut down illegal piracy enterprises.”ACE’s new members include some of the largest entertainment and media companies in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The new ACE members are:Ampro, media company in Latin America.Caracol TV, entertainment and information multi-media Colombian company that produces and broadcasts multiplatform content.Chilevisión, Chilean Free-to-Air television network.Estudios TeleMexico, media production company majority owned by Paramount Global based in Mexico.France Televisions, French national public television broadcaster.GMA Network, the Philippines’ leading broadcasting company.Ole Distribution, TV distribution division of Ole Communications in Latin America.OSN, entertainment content company servicing the Middle East and North Africa, based in Dubai.RTL Deutschland, Germany’s leading cross-media entertainment company.TeleColombia, media production company majority owned by Paramount Global based in Colombia.Total Media, media distribution company in Latin America.ACE is supported by a network of experts operating in high-tech investigations and law enforcement, in partnership with local governments and international organizations including Interpol and Europol, to take on the full supply chain of pirated content.Piracy of digitally streamed content, which accounts for 80% of overall piracy, puts innovation, creativity and investment at risk and threatens creators, innovators and consumers alike. According to the Global Innovation Policy Center, piracy amounts to as much as $71 billion annually in lost domestic revenues. Additionally, consumers are harmed when accessing illegal content – one-third of pirate sites target consumers with malware that can lead to a range of problems, including identity theft and financial loss, according to a report by Digital Citizens Alliance.

Sharjah Media City launches ‘Shams Valley’

Sharjah Media City (Shams) has launched a new venture builder called Shams Valley to launch startups in the media and technology sectors, create new opportunities for the growing economy of the Emirate of Sharjah, and play an active role in enhancing its diversity and competitiveness.Launched in collaboration with leading UAE-based venture building studio Grow Valley, the initiative builds on Shams’ pioneering role in supporting entrepreneurship and driving innovation and development in the media sector. The partnership allows Shams to tap into Grow Valley’s extensive expertise in the field, which covers everything from experimenting with startup ideas to developing them into viable businesses that cater to market requirement, in addition to ensuring their longevity and growth in the future.A launch ceremony for Shams Valley was held at the Shams Business Centre in Sharjah, attended by Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City (Shams); Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of Sharjah Research, Technology, and Innovation (SRTI) Park ; Tariq Saeed Allay, Director-General, Sharjah Government Media Bureau; Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq); Mohammed Juma Al Musharrakh, CEO of the Sharjah Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Office (Invest in Sharjah) : Reem Bin Karam, Director of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment H.E Alya Alsuwaidi, Director, Sharjah Government Media Bureau;b Dr. Mona Al Ali, Manager of Badiri Education and Development Academy.Speaking at the event, Dr. Al Midfa said, “Since its inception, Sharjah Media City has been working to help fulfil the visions and directives of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to strengthen the emirate’s position as a global centre for culture, civilisation, and innovation. Shams is committing to positioning itself as an international hub for media and creative industries in the region, opening the doors for talented and qualified professionals to transform their ideas into pioneering and inspiring media, innovation, and advanced technology projects.”“Shams Valley was launched in collaboration with our partners at Grow Valley to build and establish start-ups in the media sector, in accordance with the highest international standards,” added. “We strive to guarantee the continuity and prosperity of these businesses in the future, establishing a dynamic market for them to operate in – one that brings together innovators with creative idea, or projects that embrace advanced technologies.”“Our goal is to build an integrated system to launch a new generation of media companies, and play our part in shaping the future of media in Sharjah and the region. Shams Valley will be another step in our journey to establish a media industry that is rooted in advanced technology and innovation in Sharjah, the UAE, and the region,” Al Midfa concluded.Shams Valley aims to build an integrated system to launch a new generation of media companies and help shape the future of media in Sharjah and the region. The company will serve as an integrated platform that brings together media talents, entrepreneurs, and experts to establish ambitious media projects supported by advanced technology.The mission of Shams Valley is to evaluate ideas for startups in the media and technology sectors, making all necessary arrangements to launch these companies, in line with market trends and with the vision of Shams and the Emirate of Sharjah for the media industry. The idea is to ultimately establish a promising media sector with progressive ideas that keep pace with the rapid developments of our time.The agenda for the launch event included a panel discussion titled ‘Venture Building - The way to create winning startups’, This was followed by a workshop titled ‘Media Industry Challenges & Solutions Workshop’, that shed light on key challenges in the media industry and then proposed innovative solutions for them.

DMCC launches Gaming Centre to advance MENA region's gaming industry

DMCC – the world’s flagship free zone and Government of Dubai Authority on commodities trade and enterprise – has announced the launch of the DMCC Gaming Centre in support of the increasingly growing global and regional video games industry. Currently standing at USD 1.8 billion, revenues generated by the gaming industry in the MENA region are expected to reach USD 5 billion by 2025.Launched during the Dubai Esports Festival, the DMCC Gaming Centre formalises DMCC’s efforts in the gaming and esports space, creating a supportive environment in which all gaming and esports companies can thrive. DMCC is currently home to over 50 gaming companies, from game developers and producers to esports teams and tournament organisers. The DMCC Gaming Centre will be based in DMCC’s award-winning free zone, providing unparalleled access to a vibrant community of gaming industry peers to unlock new opportunities for collaboration. Gaming companies looking to expand their global reach and connect with audiences across the world will also benefit from DMCC’s fully digital setup process, world-class infrastructure, and commitment to increasing the ease of doing business.Under the DMCC Gaming Centre, members will have access to the wider esports community through regular events and esports tournaments and industry support from DMCC’s ecosystem partner YaLLa Esports, a leading esports organisation in the UAE. Furthermore, members will have the opportunity to join gaming specific acceleration and market entry programmes through our ecosystem partner, AstroLabs, a leading tech ecosystem builder in the MENA region. Earlier this year, DMCC partnered with the global VC firm Brinc to provide members with access to USD 150 million in funding through their accelerator programmes ZK Advancer and The Sandbox Metaverse. Those programmes will also be open to DMCC Gaming Centre members developing games on blockchain and web3 technologies.  “Gaming is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, with nearly 3.2 billion people playing and spending a combined total of USD 196.8 billion in 2022. The size and growth of the industry today is staggering compared to when video games first appeared in the 1970s,” said Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DMCC. “These passionate communities are constantly looking for greater immersion and storytelling in their chosen form of entertainment. As our roster of gaming companies expands rapidly and as we see more of our DMCC Crypto Centre members enter the blockchain gaming space, there is no better time to formalise our efforts by opening the DMCC Gaming Centre. Through this facility, we will solidify Dubai’s position as a global hub for all forms of gaming and esports.”Gaming has become the most popular form of digital entertainment across the world, with rich storytelling and greater immersion than other forms of content. DMCC’s research shows that eight out of 10 Gen Zs and millennials are gamers, and that gamers between the ages of 25 and 40 spend as much as seven hours gaming each week. Esports is also a rapidly growing industry, with 68% of the online population watching gaming-related content and 10% being esports enthusiasts. Esports has grown to become watched more than many traditional sports leagues such as the NBA and MLB.Find more information and learn how to set up at the DMCC Gaming Centre here.

Over 50 powerful discussions to be held at SEF 2022

The 6th edition of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) — set to take place on the 17th & 18th of December at the inspiring location of the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park — will see more than 50 diverse discussions, covering visions and presentations from some of the leading authorities in global entrepreneurship.The festival, organised annually by Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), has been a highlight on the calendar for future changemakers, thought-leaders as well as investors looking to discover the next ‘Fortune 500’ company in the making.With the vision to easily find your business niche, under the theme “Where We Belong”, SEF 2022 will have five dedicated stages for visitors to associate their passions, namely Impact Stage, Creative Stage, Tech Stage, Community Stage, and Wellness Stage. Exciting activities, workshops, networking and investment opportunities, and inspiring discussions are lined up to cater to all communities of entrepreneurs, creators and changemakers.Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, said: “With over 130 speakers spearheading rich discussions on the latest trends and technologies, entrepreneurs and attendees of the two-day festival will have the opportunity to engage with and learn from industry leaders directly. Our speakers and sessions this year have been carefully curated to provide our community of changemakers the knowledge they need to realize their entrepreneurial dreams.”Here are 10 featured talks across the five different stages that display the diversity of the festival, as well as providing a good example of why SEF has become a global attraction for all those with an entrepreneurial spirit.VCs and the startup ecosystem: Bracing for headwindsThis discussion featuring VCs, Tala Al Jabri, Basil Moftah and Mahmoud Adi, will cover the role and trajectory of venture capitalists in the startup ecosystem especially in this economic climate, their relation to the Middle East and the type of businesses that are most attractive to them. Panel Discussion: Breaking stereotypes and championing a new path for young womenThe panel will feature two world famous professionals, Hamda Taryam (Drag-Racer) and Reema Al Mheiri (Industrial Designer and Architect), who will discuss their experience in breaking stereotypes in traditionally male dominated industries and what the future holds for women thriving in new sectors.From building the region's most popular podcast to selling a multi-million media companySaudi podcast host and media entrepreneur Abdulrahman Abumalih, the most popular podcast host in the Arab world, will recall his journey of building Thmanyah, a media company which he partly sold for over $9 million US. His story is proof that there's hope for independent media companies from the region to make it big.Sustainable InnovationThis discussion will feature Dr. Robert Wolcott, Co-founder and Chairman of The World Innovation Network, a global connective of innovators who power a ‘serendipity engine’ to manifest purpose and impact, and reveal how entrepreneurs can make innovation a sustainable practice and how innovation is central to our future.To infinity and beyond: The case for solar powered vehiclesThis informative talk will feature H.E Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTIP, and Tom Selton, VP Business Development of Lightyear. It will give insight into the world’s first solar powered car produced by Lightyear, the vision behind UAE Net Zero 2050 as well as the role and infrastructure of clean mobility in the world.Web3.0 and the tech ecosystemThis discussion will feature Azeem Khan (Gitcoin), Ola Lind (GBBC), and world renowned personality and blockchain expert Jamil Abu-Wardeh (METKAF), who will provide valuable information about how Web 3.0 technologies are being leveraged to create smarter and more efficient systems, and the role of decentralised technologies and digital economies.Branching out and expanding your horizonsLebanese media personality, communication advisor, and strategy-led business developer Wissam Breidy will host a discussion about turning challenges into opportunities and the unique position that entrepreneurs have to craft sustainable solutions to persistent global issues.Panel Discussion: MENA to Y-CombinatorThis panel discussion will be aimed at Y-Combinator graduates and feature one of the founders of DAPI — a real-time banking API that enables companies to accept bank transfer payments within any application instantly at a near-zero cost — as well as Nuha Hashem co-founder of Zywa — the first ‘neobank’ that is exclusively tailored for ‘Gen-Z’ in the Middle East and North Africa — and Faisal Toukan co-founder of Ziina, the UAE's first peer-to-peer payment app that is on a mission to simplify finance for everyone.Building psychological systems for Entrepreneurial Journey - BelongingThis empowering discussion will revolve around psychological theories of entrepreneurship that put emphasis on the emotional and mental aspects of the individuals that drive their entrepreneurial activities. The talk will feature royal guest HH Sayyida Basma Al Said (Whispers of Serenity Clinic), a pioneer and a champion of mental health accessibility.Engineering the path to happinessBest-selling author Mo Gawdat will host a talk that looks back on his 30-year career in tech and how one moment in his life motivated him on his mission of making one billion people become happier.Mariam Bin Al Shaikh, Director of the Sharjah Business Women Council, which is a major partner of SEF 2022, said: “We aim to foster female entrepreneurs who have already become integral part of the larger entrepreneurship community within Sharjah and the wider UAE. We are looking forward to working with Sheraa by initiating dialogues and addressing barriers that are proving hindrance to people attaining their full potential. This is just a taste of what to expect from the festival this year, in its efforts to empower and elevate interest in the entrepreneurial landscape and create a sustainable pathway to success.”For those interested in attending the two-day extravaganza and finding where they belong in their respective industries, should register and secure tickets at

ASICS partners with Apparel group to launch ASICS retail stores in the GCC

Japanese sports brand ASICS and leading regional conglomerate Apparel Group have partnered to launch ASICS retail stores in Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain.  Signifying the brand’s commitment to the region, the franchise contract encompasses the rollout of 20 stores within the next five years and kick starts with the official opening of ASICS store in Qatar on December 5th.Located in Doha Festival City Mall, the first ASICS retail concept in Qatar features 165 square meters of space, showcasing running, tennis, padel, volleyball and kids collections. Customers can find in store the new GEL-KAYANO™ 29 - the running shoe that is arguably ASICS’ most iconic model and that has now been improved even further through advanced technologies, as well as NOVABLAST™ 3 shoe - the third generation of ASICS’ unique cushioning running shoe that offers a bouncing running experience and combines Japanese origami design with technology.The new ASICS stores will also feature ASICS’ Run Analyzer™, a free ASICS specialized gait analysis and foot mapping technology that helps customers find the right running shoe for their personal running style, increases running efficiency andreduces load on the foot. Trained staff members in-store assist with fittings and diagnostic services, pronation analysis, supination and pressure distribution, creating a unique shopping experience for consumers.Commenting on this partnership announcement, Mano Takayuki, General Manager, ASICS Arabia says, “We are very proud to partner with Apparel Group for the launch of ASICS stores in the GCC. This marks a new stage of growth for the brand in the Middle East and signifies our commitment to enhancing communities through sports.”The next openings in line are set to roll out in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, bringing Europe’s #1 running and tennis brand’s retail concept to the rest of the Middle East, spearheaded by sustainable design and usage of sustainable materials throughout the stores, as part of the brand’s mission to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, helping conserve the ability of future generations to continue experiencing the uplifting power of sport on the mind.Neeraj Teckchandani, CEO of Apparel Group said, “As Apparel Group continues its journey to strengthen its position as one of the leading retail conglomerates in the region and globally, we are proud to announce our strategic partnership with ASICS. With this partnership, Apparel Group remains committed to identifying innovative approaches to strategic alliances that enable us to stay at the forefront of consumer trends and grow our global footprint.”ASICS will also be expanding its current ASICS FrontRunner program, a unique ambassadorship program that selects inspiring individuals from each of the countries ASICS is present on to become ambassadors for the brand. Those selected individuals have a unique role – to inspire, motivate and educate the communities on the importance of movement for better mental and physical well-being and help promote ASICS founding philosophy of, ‘A Sound Mind in a Sound Body’.“The opening of ASICS stores in the region allows us to connect further with local, grass root sports communities and share our passion for movement and Sound Mind Sound Body philosophy. We are witnessing unparallel growth in running, tennis and padel sports in the Middle East, and we want to ensure we help those sports enthusiasts to find the right footwear and apparel to increase their performance ’

Saudi's Ministry of Communications and IT inks MoU with Huawei

The Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and Huawei signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation in the field of communications and information technology. The MoU was signed in Riyadh on the sidelines of the historic visit of His Excellency President of China Xi Jinping to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by Eng. Bassam Al-Bassam, Deputy Minister for Telecom and Infrastructure Saudi Arabia, and Eric Yang, CEO of Huawei Saudi Arabia. The event was attended by HE Eng. Khalid AlFalih, Minister of Investment, HE. Eng. Haytham Alohli, Vice Minister, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Mr.Steven Yi, the President of Huawei Middle East and Central Asia region, and several officials from both parties.Under the terms of the agreement, the Ministry and Huawei will collaborate to realize a '10Gbps Society', seeking to build a superfast broadband infrastructure to support the digital transformation goals of Saudi Vision 2030. These improvements will also enhance the competitiveness of Saudi ICT infrastructure globally. Towards this end, Huawei will leverage its global expertise and success stories to support the MCIT in finalizing the business case and designing the required regulations to accelerate the 10Gbps society goal. An initial 10GB district pilot will be launched in 2023.Small businesses are the backbone of the Saudi economy, while its bourgeoning startup ecosystem is inspiring unprecedented innovation and disruption across various domains. To support this evolution, Huawei will work with the Ministry to support digital entrepreneurs working on smart cities, IoT, AI, gaming, fintech, e-commerce, and blockchain projects. The two entities will also jointly promote the HUAWEI CLOUD startups program, a support program for empowering SMEs to develop their cloud capabilities.Additionally, the Ministry pledged to provide Huawei with support to build a cloud computing region in the Kingdom as cloud adoption accelerates in Saudi Arabia. Huawei will, on its part, work to strengthen partnerships with local data center service providers.Saudi Arabia recognizes ICT talent development as a key pillar of its Vision 2030. The MoU establishes a joint framework to launch a Huawei scholarship training program to train university students, including visits to Huawei headquarters to experience the company's technology first-hand. This initiative extends existing Huawei skills development programs in Saudi Arabia, including the ICT Academy and Seeds for the Future.    As Saudi Arabia accelerates the shift toward a digital government, the Ministry and Huawei will also collaborate to build a nationwide Unified Government Network Infrastructure standard to serve all government entities.Steven Yi, the President of Huawei Middle East and Central Asia Region, who had witnessed the ceremony said, "This partnership aligns with Saudi Vision 2030 and the Ministry's continuous efforts to advance digital transformation, enhance ICT skills, and foster a culture of innovation. As a long-term partner of Saudi Arabia's service providers and enterprises, this MoU reflects our continued commitment to supporting the Kingdom's efforts to become a global leader in ICT, leveraging our global expertise and technologies."

MoIAT and EDGE launch ‘Pioneers 4.0’ hackathon series

The Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) and EDGE Group PJSC (‘EDGE’ or ‘the Group’) have completed the first ‘Pioneers 4.0’ Hackathon series, as part of a series of initiatives to accelerate digital transformation. This follows the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the two parties in August 2022, which aims to expand the offerings of EDGE’s Learning & Innovation Factory to the UAE’s industrial ecosystem, and to collaborate on the establishment of an Industry 4.0 Enablement Centre.The ‘Pioneers 4.0’ Hackathon series will host two challenges per year. Each challenge will have a unique problem statement that addresses industrial pain points to encourage digital transformation and operational excellence in various factories setups, and to enable participants to better predict and prepare for the industry’s needs and future requirements.The inaugural challenge of ‘Pioneers 4.0’ took place from 21-22 November 2022 at the EDGE Learning & Innovation Factory in Abu Dhabi in partnership with Microsoft as a Technical Partner. It enabled 15 students from some of the UAE’s leading universities, including the American University of Sharjah, Higher College of Technology, Khalifa University, Mohammed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), New York University Abu Dhabi, Zayed University and the University of Manchester, to collaborate in teams and to propose an innovative solution for the chosen problem statement.The challenge required participants to leverage data from sensors and manufacturing execution systems to develop a solution using artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to enhance predictive maintenance. It aimed to enhance maintenance threefold: firstly, to predict machine outages and unplanned downtimes; secondly, to predict energy consumption and anomalies in sensors during a manufacturing process; and thirdly, to analyse manufacturing data of the production line during production cycles, and to assess the quality of the manufacturing process with the current available data.On the second day, 22 November, participating students pitched their solution to a jury of subject matter experts from MoIAT, EDGE, and Microsoft – in a bid to be crowned winners of the challenge.Zhaksylyk Kazykenov, Aidana Nurakhmetova, and Samar Fares from MBZUAI, and Shaikha Al Athmani from the University of Manchester, won the first Hackathon challenge for their unique business case and their ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking.The ‘Pioneers 4.0’ Hackathon is aligned with the UAE’s Industry 4.0 programme (I4.0), which aims to promote the adoption of advanced technologies in the industrial sector through various enablers and incentives. The Champions 4.0 Network, which is a group of leading national and international companies including the likes of EDGE and Microsoft, is a key pillar of I4.0. Under the network, companies explore collaborations and exchanges that lead to the acceleration of digital transformations and the adoption of 4IR solutions.Tariq Al Hashmi, Head of Technology Development and Adoption at MoIAT, said: “Through initiatives such as the Champions 4.0 Network, the Ministry is committed to bringing partners together to support the digitalisation and competitiveness of the UAE’s industrial sector. This Hackathon is a prime example of how leading national companies can work together with global corporations – and academic institutions – using the UAE’s industrial ecosystem as a platform to support not only one another’s objectives, but also the upskilling of national talent. We congratulate the winners of the first Pioneers 4.0 cohort and look forward to witnessing the longer-term impact of the initiative.”The ‘Pioneers 4.0’ Hackathon series aims to bridge the gap between the university studies and the industrial ecosystem, creating an opportunity for Bachelor, Master and PhD students to put theoretical knowledge into practice, and to contribute in solving some of the nowadays industry’s pressing challenges.Mohittin Milen Kourtev, Head of EDGE Learning & Innovation Factory, EDGE, added: “The Pioneers 4.0 Hackathon series is a key Industry 4.0 initiative that will promote the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies and encourage digital transformation in operations. In collaboration with MoIAT, EDGE is striving to bring together some of the nation’s brightest minds to solve current and future challenges within the industry, and help shape the future with smart and practical solutions.”EDGE Learning & Innovation Factory combines theory, technology and practice under one roof to drive improvements and inspire an innovative approach to encourage digital transformation and modernisation of operations. It provides trainees with experiential, gamified, and actionable learnings in line with the industry’s future requirements.Members of the Champions 4.0 Network include EDGE, Microsoft, ADNOC, Honeywell, Unilever, Schneider Electric, Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), Cisco, Siemens, Aveva, SAP, Etisalat, IBM, Huawei, Strata, PTC, and Ericsson. By supporting companies to integrate 4IR technologies into their operations, the network enhances the UAE’s overall industrial competitiveness, driving down costs, increasing productivity and efficiency, enhancing quality, improving safety, and creating new jobs.

Ericsson Mobility Report: GCC 5G subscriptions grow 30 percent annually

The November 2022 edition of the Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) Mobility Report forecasts that 5G subscriptions in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region are projected to grow steadily at an average annual rate of 30 percent, from 15 to 71 million up to the end of 2028, accounting for 86 percent of total connections at that time.Currently, 4G accounts 72 percent of mobile subscriptions in the GCC with 5G at 20 percent of the total mobile subscriptions. With the expected growth of 5G subscriptions, 4G subscriptions are expected to decline from 55 million in 2022 to 8 million in 2028. The monthly data traffic per smartphone in the GCC will almost double from 25 GB per month in 2022 to around 53 GB per month in 2028.Nicolas Blixell, Vice President and Head of Gulf Council Countries at Ericsson Middle East and Africa, says: “As communication service providers explore diverse service offerings, 5G is anticipated to be the segment with the fastest growth. The demand for and growth of Fixed Wireless Access is also exceeding our expectations, as depicted by the latest Ericsson Mobility Report. It is worth noting that we have observed communication service providers in the region increasingly building on B2B opportunities as well.”Global 5G subscriptions remain on track to top one billion by the end of this year, and five billion by the end of 2028, despite current and developing economic challenges in many parts of the world. By the end of 2028, five billion 5G subscriptions are forecast globally, accounting for 55 percent of all subscriptions. In that same timeframe, 5G population coverage is projected to reach 85 percent while 5G networks are expected to carry around 70 percent of mobile traffic and account for all contemporary traffic growth.On 5G itself, about 110 million subscriptions were added globally between July-September 2022, bringing the total to about 870 million. As forecast in previous reports, 5G is still expected to reach one billion subscriptions by the end of this year – two years faster than 4G did, following its launch. The statistic reinforces 5G as the fastest-scaling mobile connectivity generation.Overall mobile subscriptions are expected to top 8.4 billion by the end of 2022, and 9.2 billion by the end of 2028. Most subscriptions are associated with smartphones. At the end of 2022, 6.6 billion smartphone subscriptions are estimated, accounting for about 79 percent of all mobile phone subscriptions.The report also forecasts global fixed wireless access (FWA) connections to grow faster than previously expected. FWA – the wireless alternative to wireline broadband connectivity for homes and businesses – is one of the major early 5G use cases, particularly in regions with unserved or underserved broadband markets. FWA is forecast to grow at 19 percent year-on-year through 2022-28, and top 300 million connections by the end of 2028.The latest report also highlights the importance of reducing environmental impact. The telecommunications sector has a key role to play in addressing global sustainability goals, both by reducing its own emissions and through its potential to reduce carbon emissions across other industries.To reduce the environmental impact, the growing data traffic needs to be managed with smart network modernization combined with a balanced approach to network performance.Read the full November 2022 Ericsson Mobility Report.

The BIBF participates in the Arab International Cyber Security Summit

The Bahrain Institute of Banking & Finance (BIBF), the region's leading training and development provider, participated as a Knowledge Partner in the Arab International Cyber Security Summit, which was held from December 6 to 8 at the Exhibition World Bahrain, under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander, and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and attended by a large group of regional and international experts.Bringing together cybersecurity experts and thought leaders from around the globe, the Summit aimed to drive innovation in information security, highlight major international initiatives and trends in the field, discuss main cybersecurity challenges in the MENA region, as well as explore the best practices and solutions to foster information security across all industries.Highlighting the Kingdom of Bahrain's effort to drive digital transformation in the region, Director of the BIBF Dr. Ahmed Al-Shaikh stated, "As an integral part of the Kingdom's national security and economic growth, cybersecurity comes on top of the Kingdom's national agenda. We are proud to have participated in this event which explores current and future trends in cybersecurity, especially in the banking and financial sectors"."The BIBF is committed to delivering quality training programmes and professional qualifications that are based on market demands, to develop the national cadres in the fields of digital transformation and cybersecurity.” Dr. Al Shaikh added.On her part, Acting Head of Digital Transformation and Project Management Centre at the BIBF, Ms. Maryam Majed, stated "Participating in the Summit has allowed the BIBF to further support digital transformation efforts by fostering cooperation with international partners in cybersecurity, digital transformation, and other related fields. As the Knowledge Partner of the event, the BIBF encouraged knowledge sharing by providing free sessions to raise the awareness of both individuals and organisation about the importance of cybersecurity and digital transformation.”At the Summit, the BIBF's expert trainers delivered a series of sessions which aimed to raise awareness about various topics related to the cyberspace. The Blockchain Expert, Mr. Fawaz Shukrallah, delivered a session entitled "Blockchain Security", and the BIBF Lecturer, Mr. Nishanth Kumar, presented a live demo of DevSecOps, while the BIBF Senior Lecturer, Mr. Yousif Faraj, delivered in a session entitled "Stay Secure", in which he addressed the risks of cybercrime and the effect of modern technology on the financial and business sector.Finally, IT and Management Consultant, Mr. Khalifa Aljawder delivered a session to explain more about the ISACA certifications offered at the BIBF in cooperation with ISACA Bahrain Chapter, and how these qualifications can significantly increase the learners’ chances of improving their career and getting high-paying jobs.

CNN expands the CNN Academy programme

CNN has delivered a unique journalism training experience to participants from its CNN Academy hubs from across the world as the network further develops its training and education programme, CNN Academy. Over five days, CNN last week created a realistic breaking news environment that enabled 88 participants – all currently enrolled in the network’s various CNN Academy programmes – to refine and utilise the skills obtained throughout their learning on various CNN Academy courses around the world.Hosted at twofour54’s Yas Creative Hub in Abu Dhabi, the large-scale event saw participants working in teams to explore a fictitious scenario that allowed them to function as reporters, news writers and content producers. This included verifying sources, attending mock press conferences, conducting mock interviews, responding to email updates, deciphering documents and navigating a custom-made simulated social media platform which was updated in real time throughout the event and included evidence, bots, decoys and news to sift through. The participants also investigated and news gathered at a scene built on a film set at the twofour54 Kizad backlot where they interacted with CNN journalists playing the roles of eye-witnesses, activists and corporate representatives. Devised by CNN journalists in conjunction with Prof. Rex Brynen of McGill University, a leader in serious gaming, and Jim Wallman of game design company Stone Paper Scissors, the scenario encouraged strategic thinking, team building, tact and decision making. After deducing the story and best angles the participants pitched to a panel of senior CNN staff, replicating the interaction with editors in a newsroom, and six teams were selected to write, produce and edit final packages.The ground-breaking initiative provided a safe-to-fail environment where participants could apply their skills under CNN guidance and supervision whilst experiencing the fast-paced environment that journalists work in each day.Alongside the simulation, masterclasses were chaired by Becky Anderson, Managing Editor of CNN Abu Dhabi and Anchor of Connect the World with Becky Anderson, delivering valuable insights into the operations behind CNN’s reporting from large-scale global events and the perspective of photojournalists, how they use various kit and operate in the field.The 88 participants comprised 28 different nationalities from CNN Academy partnerships with Loyola University Seville, Chu Hai College of Higher Education in Hong Kong, University of Nottingham Malaysia, University College Dublin, along with those taking part in the latest CNN Academy Abu Dhabi, where the programme is supported by Abu Dhabi talent development initiatives creative lab and Arab Film Studio, and CNN Academy Erbil (Erbil Media City, Iraq). Since the launch of CNN Academy in 2020, CNN has collaborated with creative, educational and media partners to combine CNN’s renowned global journalism expertise with academic excellence. The variety of innovative CNN Academy programmes offer dynamic learning through a wealth of resources, in-person exercises, digital courses and expert-led workshops, with CNN now developing new CNN Academy concepts and formats with other partners. Phil Nelson, Chief Operating Officer, CNN International Commercial said, “Beyond extending CNN’s mission in bringing exceptional journalism to the world, CNN Academy is also an innovative way for us to work with a wide array of educational, creative and media partners. Since the launch of the first CNN Academy in Abu Dhabi we have trained over 350 participants in our various programmes worldwide. I am delighted for the inaugural newsroom simulation to be hosted in Abu Dhabi, as we take this initiative to the next level and further expand the way we train emerging journalistic talent and contribute to CNN’s legacy of unparalleled global newsgathering and reporting.”Becky Anderson said, “This was a tremendous event, I’ve never known anything like it in the industry. It really replicated what it’s like to newsgather in a different environment, working with new colleagues and uncovering information to get the facts and to the heart of a story. The participants were fantastic throughout the week and demonstrated skills that are vital for a career in journalism. It has been great to collaborate with future talent from around the world and bring everyone together in Abu Dhabi to build connections with their international contemporaries and get first-hand advice and expertise from our global team at CNN.”

#Dubai Destinations campaign returns

Under the directives of Ahmed bin Mohammed #Dubai Destinations campaign returns to highlight Dubai’s unique winter attractions and experiences.Running until February 2023, the campaign tells the story of Dubai’s emergence as one of the world’s best winter destinationsMona Al Marri: The campaign will weave together diverse narratives about what makes Dubai a unique place to explore in the winterContent creators of all nationalities can participate in the campaign by contributing their unique stories and creative content about Dubai’s attractiveness as a winter destination.- The Winter Sun Index issued by leading global travel package provider ParkSleepFly ranks Dubai the “world’s best winter sun destination”Elements of ‘Land, Sky and Water’ form the basic theme of the collaborative campaign- The attractions and activities offered by the Hatta region will be a key focus of the campaign- #DubaiDestinations website launched to share content, videos & guides related to the campaignDubai was tagged on Instagram more than 111 million times and has the most winter-related ‘Things to do’ Google searches in the world, according to The Winter Sun Index Under the directives of Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Media Council, the #DubaiDestinations winter campaign returns this year to showcase the attractions and experiences that make the emirate a top pick among global destinations in the cooler months of the year.The collaborative campaign, implemented by Brand Dubai, the creative arm of the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO), highlights an array of activities and experiences that people can enjoy amidst the wonderful winter weather. This season, Dubai offers residents and visitors amazing adventure, entertainment, food, art, culture, sports and fitness experiences and more. Featuring engaging content from diverse stakeholders, the campaign tells the story of Dubai’s emergence as one of the world’s best winter destinations. To mark the launch of the campaign, Brand Dubai hosted an event for the media, influencers and content creators at the Government of Dubai Media Office to showcase the activations and experiences the latest campaign will be highlighting to local and global audiences. Brand Dubai also announced the launch of the #DubaiDestinations website, which will share content, videos and guides related to the campaign.Vindicating Dubai’s strengths, a global study released late last month named the emirate the “world’s best winter-sun destination”. According to The Winter Sun Index issued by travel package provider ParkSleepFly, Dubai has been tagged on Instagram more than 111 million times and has the most winter-related ‘things to do’ Google searches in the world, reaching 55,000. The iconic city is also blessed with more than eight hours of sunlight daily and a pleasant average temperature of 20.4 degree centigrade in the winter. Another study by Remote, a global talent consultancy, issued last month, ranked Dubai the second-best winter destination for digital nomads.Mona Al Marri, Vice Chairperson and Managing Director of the Dubai Media Council and Director General of the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO), said: “The #DubaiDestinations campaign once again brings together government entities, industry stakeholders, the creative community and media to offer a new window into Dubai’s exciting winter destination experiences. The campaign is a celebration of the places, activities and attractions that provide memorable experiences in the season. The initiative will showcase the covetable culture, fascinating food, pristine beaches, stunning mountain landscapes, unique modern lifestyle, exciting adventures, centuries-old heritage and futuristic cityscapes that Dubai offers.”“The campaign will weave together compelling narratives from diverse sources about what makes Dubai a truly unique place to visit and explore. Content creators of all nationalities can participate in the campaign by contributing their unique stories and creative content about Dubai’s attractiveness as a winter destination. The campaign aims to convey Dubai’s distinctive character that combines its modern spirit and cosmopolitan ethos with its rich history and heritage,” Her Excellency added.The current season of the #DubaiDestinations campaign, running until February 2023, invites the local and global community to savour Dubai’s diverse winter attractions across land, sky and water. The elements of ‘Land, Sky and Water’ form the basic theme of the collaborative campaign whose ultimate objective is to enhance Dubai’s appeal as a destination of choice that offers enriching experiences and adventures.The Hatta region will be a key focus of the campaign. The region’s picturesque mountain scenery, archaeological sites and other tourist attractions such as the Hatta Fort, the Hatta Dam, the Hatta Heritage Village and the Hatta Hill Park will be prominently featured in the campaign. The campaign will also put the spotlight on the exceptional recreational facilities, luxury resorts and diverse adventure activities, such as camping, cycling, hiking and swimming. The Hatta Mountain Conservation Reserve, which is home to many rare birds and animals, will also be highlighted in the #DubaiDestinations winter campaign.Key partners in the campaign include: Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism; the Dubai Municipality; the Roads and Transport Authority; the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority; the Dubai Sports Council; Nakheel Properties; Shamal; Emaar; Al Serkal; the Dubai Design District; Dubai Holding; the Majid Al Futtaim Group; and the Merex Investment Group.Shaima Al Suwaidi, Director of Brand Dubai, said: “The creative initiative will highlight an array of top-rated experiences for people of different tastes and age groups at its beaches and waterfronts, public parks and entertainment venues, world-class hotels, restaurants, and natural attractions in the Al Marmoom area and Hatta. The collaborative storytelling campaign will share compelling content on Dubai’s winter destinations and events through guides, creative videos and social media as part of Brand Dubai’s objective to enhance Dubai’s profile as a must-visit destination.”Al Suwaidi added that as part of the winter campaign, Brand Dubai will continue to launch a series of guides to raise the visibility of the emirate’s various winter attractions. The guides will cover must-try winter activities, outdoor sports activities, camping journeys, winter pop-ups, outdoor dining options and other attractions. Brand Dubai will also partner with content creators to develop videos and promotional content that will highlight the city’s best activities, experiences and events and where to find them.The newly launched #DubaiDestinations website will allow users to get the latest updates about the winter campaign, helping to further raise the visibility of the city’s major attractions and recreational destinations while capturing Dubai’s distinctive winter vibe,” Al Suwaidi said.The #DubaiDestinations summer campaign earlier this year saw some of the emirate’s most accomplished creatives, including influencers, photographers, digital media content creators, animators and videographers, come together to create engaging content across traditional and new media. The campaign, which attracted the participation of over 150 influencers and content creators, drew high levels of interest from the creative community, families and visitors.The new #DubaiDestinations winter campaign will raise the profile of the activities, shows, culture, festivities and sights that make Dubai a one-of-a-kind winter hotspot.

Cinematic creations at ‘Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert’ shows cultural diversity

The second ‘Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert’ festival, which took place at the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve and concluded today, 11th December, showcased a diverse and culturally rich spectrum of Arab stories through the films screened.Organised by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), the festival renews the hopes of filmmakers for a promising future for the film industry in Dubai and the UAE, as it is one of the tributaries of Dubai’s creative economy.In line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to cement Dubai’s position as a global centre for culture, an incubator for creativity and a thriving hub for talent, Dubai Culture launched the ‘Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert’ festival in 2020, providing the community with an innovative cinematic experience in the open air within a unique, educational family atmosphere.This year’s edition enabled the audience and film enthusiasts to delve into the region’s rich history, long-standing traditions, and contemporary vibes, and showcased nostalgic issues related to identity and offered eloquent insights that reflect the remarkable diversity of the Arab culture.Shaikh Maktoum Marwan Al Maktoum, Project Manager of the ‘Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert’ festival and Senior Officer in the Projects & Events Department at Dubai Culture, said, “The films showcased at the second edition of the festival were diverse and highlighted societal issues. The stories allowed the audience to learn about our authentic cultural heritage—a heritage that deserves to be shared with the world. The collection of films was a window to innovative narrative experiences. They exhibited our youth’s creativity and artistic techniques, highlighting their competence and perspectives.”Shamma Yahya Alzaffin, Project Manager of the ‘Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert Festival’ and Senior Officer of the Arts & Literature Sector’s CEO’s office at Dubai Culture, highlighted the importance of the festival’s distinguished works that educate, entertain and inspire the audience. She said, “The festival is an innovative idea to give filmmakers an exciting opportunity and a platform to present inspiring works that reflect their perspectives and draw attention to community issues. This confirms Dubai Culture’s keenness to explore new experiences and experimental cinema.”Over three days, the festival screened 27 films—both feature films and films shortlisted for the Al Marmoom Short Film Competition. The feature films showcased included ‘Honey Rain and Dust’ by Emirati Filmmaker Nujoom Alghanem. In the film, she tells the stories of three of the most famous honey collectors in the UAE. It begins with the story of Ghareeb, a beekeeper who established a protective sanctuary at the top of the mountains where he can better manage the environs and protect his honeybees. The story then moves on to Fatima and Aisha, who prefer to roam the mountains freely to find the highest natural honey.Through her film ‘Costa Brava, Lebanon,’ Lebanese director and screenwriter Mounia Akl sought to tell the story of a family that decides to leave Beirut to live in nature. The parents believe they are saving their children from years of suffering living in the city. Nadine Labaki, Saleh Bakri, and Youmna Marwan star in this work, which Lebanon nominated for the Academy Awards.History of the marshes ‘Osha’s Gift’, a short narrative film by Emirati director Hind Abdullah seeks to introduce therapy through art and showcase how loyalty to friends remains after their departure. The film is based on the true story of the young Emirati visual artist Ashwaq, who lost her old friend, Hind, and highlights her new friendship with the child Osha.Through her short film ‘Why is my grandfather’s bed in our living room?’ Emirati director Sarah Al Hashemi tells the story of a family that lost their grandfather’s house to development plans. While its members remember their loss, an old wooden bed appears in the middle of the hall, representing the only remaining memory of the house.The short documentary ‘The Marshes of Iraq’ by director Ali Mohammed Al Hamami presents the history of the marshes, the stories of that region and, through real testimonies, an image of the close connection between the people and the land. The festival’s second edition also witnessed 23 specialised talks and workshops to promote local cinema. The festival was held in partnership with several public and private entities in Dubai: the Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Municipality, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, the Department of Economy and Tourism, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, the Ministry of Education, Emirates Airline, Careem, Meraas, The American University in Dubai, ‘Proudly from Dubai,’ an initiative of Brand Dubai, Trust Your Water, VOX Cinemas, Weyyak, Zayed University, Nikon, Raindance, Project You, New Media Academy, GTV, and Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.

Museum of the Future receives global recognition award for business practice

The Museum of the Future has received a global award recognising its commitment to diversity, accessibility, inclusion, and equity, reflecting its vision for a brighter future that is designed with everyone in mind. The museum won a Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award, also known as an ‘Edgie’, from the ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers). It was recognised for its outstanding accomplishments in administration and financial sustainability, winning the Business Practice Category. ASTC formally presented the ‘Edgie’ during a virtual award ceremony (#ASTCvirtual) that took place earlier this month.Majed Jakka Al Mansoori, Deputy Executive Director at the Museum of the Future said: “This award reflects and recognises our continued efforts to make the future – through the museum’s experiences – accessible to all. Our objectives are based on the notion that everyone has an important contribution to make to the future. We firmly believe that a future that is created without contributions from all segments of society is a future that does not cater to everyone in society.”Inclusivity and diversity are also at the heart of MOTF’s exhibits. For instance, the Future Heroes exhibition encourages young minds to make new discoveries about themselves and the technologies that will be a fundamental part of their futures. It focuses on the belief that everyone can contribute to the future, regardless of their background, age, or physical and mental abilities. Through its experiences, the Museum of the Future transports today’s generations to the world of tomorrow, offering them a glimpse of potential future scenarios. Its primary objective is to inspire and empower people to reimagine the future and build the kind of world they want to inhabit. Al Mansoori added: “The Museum of the Future provides a nurturing environment that connects Dubai’s and the world’s creative minds. Diversity and inclusivity are vital ingredients in the museum’s efforts to design and test future concepts alongside its partners. We seek to lead a global intellectual movement that actively explores and foresees future changes in scientific, economic, environmental and social sectors.” The Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Awards are presented to ASTC members and/or their staff and volunteers in recognition of extraordinary accomplishments that not only enhance the performance of their own organisations, but also significantly advance the science and technology behind it. Nominations were judged according to tangible impact or lasting effect on the institution’s business efficiency and effectiveness, as well as how the institution applies and demonstrates new ideas and best practices, and how it embodies ASTC’s commitment to diversity, accessibility, inclusion, and equity.

International Boxing Association concludes first day of Global Boxing Forum

The International Boxing Association has concluded the first day of its Global Boxing Forum (IBA GBF) in Abu Dhabi after a vast array of discussion panels, keynote speeches, roundtables and seminars.The key theme of this year’s IBA GBF is "ensuring sound opportunities for athletes and IBA’s place in the Olympic Games". The IBA GBF brought experts and industry leaders together to discuss relevant topics, such as “Sport for Peace and its Power to Support Conflict Resolution”, “Challenges and Solutions for Boxing Development on The Five Continents”, “Sports and Governance Integrity”, “Career Development Journey from the IBA to Professional”, “Digital Media and its Role in Developing Boxing in the Gulf Region”, “Social Responsibility and Humanitarian Initiatives Powered by Boxing”, and “IBA’s Digital Transformation”.Among those who participated in the IBA GBF Abu Dhabi 2022 press conference were Umar Kremlev, President of the International Boxing Association; Hassan Al Hammadi, Secretary-General of the UAE Boxing Federation’; legendary boxers Estelle Mossely, Evander Holyfield, Kostya Tszyu, Roy Jones Jr and Tammara Thibeault. Angela Barnes was the moderator. The IBA GBF Abu Dhabi 2022 is the first forum held in the Middle East. The previous two editions of the forum, held in 2018 in Sochi and in 2019 in Ekaterinburg, already proved the effectiveness of the IBA GBF as a platform for fostering the effective development of the sport.Umar Kremlev stated, “It has been my utmost pleasure to host the 3rd edition of the IBA GBF in Abu Dhabi. The IBA envisions this forum to be a catalyst for positive, two-way dialogue and the spark towards further advancements in boxing. The key and overarching theme of the IBA GBF is about the integral need for sound governance in international boxing; sports and governance integrity are essential to all international sports federations. That is why we recognise the need to bring together leading voices of the boxing community to engage in discussions which elevate us as a collective whole.”Kremlev added, “The IBA is committed to ensuring that the entire sport of boxing, boxers, and all international sporting federations connected to boxing, can work in cohesion to create a harmonious and thriving boxing ecosystem. Through forums and events such as the IBA GBF, we will remain dedicated to showcasing the IBA’s imperative role in all boxing-related activities, including the Olympic Games.”Hassan Al Hammadi said, “As boxing continues to grow and thrive in the UAE, we are delighted to host the IBA GBF in Abu Dhabi for its inaugural edition in the Middle East. The discussions, insight and transferable knowledge will help to enhance the sport in this region further.”Al Hammadi added, “It has been an honour to work closely with the IBA and recognise first-hand the esteem and merit they bring to boxing. I look forward to welcoming them again as we use the IBA GBF Abu Dhabi 2022 as the foundation of a fruitful working relationship.”Roy Jones Jr, multiple world champion in professional boxing and Olympic Silver Medallist, remarked, “The IBA GBF Abu Dhabi 2022 has been a resounding success. There is no boxing without the IBA; it truly is the home of boxing, and they have showcased that once again by creating imperative and meaningful discussions that prioritise the athletes first across all levels. Our athletes are the most important part of the boxing community. Without them, we have no boxing ecosystem. It deeply encourages me to see organisations like the IBA recognising that and being the vocal champion of all boxers.”The IBA GBF enables all participants of the international boxing movement to openly exchange ideas, learn from the best practice in the sports industry and create new connections.