Twitter to develop video app for smart TVs

Twitter has announced its latest endeavour to revolutionize user engagement through the development of a state-of-the-art video application for smart TVs. This innovative initiative, confirmed by Elon Musk, reinforces the company's commitment to advancing its video content strategy.In a tweet, Elon Musk officially confirmed Twitter's ongoing efforts to introduce a dedicated video application for smart TVs. This strategic move aligns seamlessly with the platform's overarching objective of prioritizing the expansion of video content to cater to the evolving preferences and demands of its diverse user base.During an investor presentation held on Thursday, the newly appointed CEO of Twitter, Linda Yaccarino, along with Elon Musk, unveiled a comprehensive roadmap outlining Twitter's future plans. With an unwavering focus on video content, creator collaborations, and commerce partnerships, the company aims to revitalize its business model beyond digital advertising, as reported by Reuters. The introduction of the video application for smart TVs represents a significant milestone in this transformative journey.Twitter's forthcoming video app for smart TVs serves as a testament to the platform's unwavering dedication to video content. In recent years, Twitter has made substantial strides in enhancing the user experience by embracing the potential of video. This new application will empower users to seamlessly access a wide array of captivating video content directly from their smart TVs, unlocking a whole new level of engagement and entertainment.As the digital landscape continues to evolve, Twitter remains committed to driving innovation and delivering remarkable experiences to its users. The video application for smart TVs signifies the platform's progressive vision and determination to stay at the forefront of technological advancements in the social media space.

Grocery, apparel spending likely to increase among UAE consumers in future

Dubai: More than two in five (44%) consumers in UAE have seen a decrease in their disposable income over the past 12 months while 27% have seen no change, according to the latest data from YouGov’s Global FMCG/CPG & Retail whitepaper 2023 – Changing purchasing habits in a cost-of-living crisis, shows that . With only 22% having experienced an increase, overall, the negative impact on disposable income outweighs the positive more by two-fold.When it comes to changes by age groups, we can see how the over 35 are hit hard by inflation, with the 55+ adults experiencing the hardest impact (at 53%). On the other hand, young adults between 25–34 years appear to be the least impacted. The report also explores the products and services that are showing increasing price sensitivity in the past six months.Food related products rank in the top four most price sensitive categories with groceries being the top concern for more than two in five UAE consumers (44%). A similar proportion (41%) is conscious of the price of clothing/ shoes. Around a third have been concerned about the cost of mobile phones (35%) and take-out food (31%). Air travel (30%) and electronics (29%) fall within the next tier of price sensitive categories, along with utilities (27%), car/vehicle (26%) and medicine & healthcare products (25%). Despite experiencing a change in disposable income, consumers seem confident about their future spending and are likely to increase their spending in most of the listed categories.Grocery spending is likely to surge, with more than a third (36%) planning to increase spend on food & beverages in the next 12 months, considerably more those who intend to spend less (22%). Similarly, the apparel and household supplies/ toiletries categories can expect more or the same amount of spend from consumers than a cut back.The personal care category is likely to remain stable, with a higher proportion saying they will spend the same amount than those who may increase or decrease their spending. The two categories most likely to be affected by inflation are toys/puzzles/games/books and alcohol, where consumers are more likely to not buy or reduce their spend than increase it.In order to manage their expenses better, consumers are resorting to a number of smart shopping tactics. More than a third of consumers in UAE have shopped at a budget or cheaper store (35%), compared prices (34%) or maintained a tight budget (34%). Using discount codes or coupons to save money was the next best tactic (32%), closely followed by waiting for sales to buy their desired products (31%).Looking ahead, using discount codes to apply a reduction in price is expected to be the top future tactic, with two in five UAE consumers saying so (40%). This is closely followed by waiting for the price of products to be slashed in sales or on sale days (39%), shopping at budget stores (37%), price comparison (37%) and a tight shopping budget (37%).

PRCA MENA strengthens presence in Saudi Arabia

Dubai: With an aim to explore further opportunities and discuss the development of the PR industry, Monika Fourneaux, Head of EMEA at PRCA, visited PRCA MENA partner One Group in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last week. The two-day visit also served as an occasion to meet local prospects and extend greetings to current PRCA MENA members.“Networking with local agencies provided valuable insights into their perspective on the local market and the challenges they face. I was very pleased to engage with industry professionals and discuss the forthcoming support PRCA MENA will offer them,” said Monika Fourneaux, Head of PRCA EMEA.Faris Aljameel, Vice-chair of One Group, commented, "We are pleased to be partnered with PRCA MENA. This global association, renowned for its ethical values, brings significant networking advantages to the region, along with access to prestigious awards and professional training."PRCA MENA remains committed to expanding its presence and fostering collaboration in the Saudi Arabian market. The visit emphasised the organization's dedication to supporting and empowering PR professionals in the region.

Amazon Ads partners with Lenovo to empower female gamers

Dubai: Lenovo has partnered with Amazon Ads to launch an impactful Q4 campaign for their Lenovo Legion brand, aimed at creating an authentic gaming experience for audiences, particularly women within the gaming community. By leveraging Amazon DSP video, display banners, and other ad products, Lenovo successfully connected with customers and celebrated the diversity of players in the gaming world.One of the campaign highlights was a hero video featured on the Amazon website homepage, showcasing a female protagonist who exemplifies leadership, strength, and effective collaboration while gaming on Lenovo Legion laptops. The inclusion of a female lead underscored Lenovo's commitment to inclusivity, empowering and encouraging women in the gaming community.Lenovo's Legion campaign was executed in three phases: lead-in, lead-up, and lead-out. During the lead-in phase, the brand used a multichannel approach to target Amazon PC gaming shoppers with video ads, dynamic banners, and static displays. The lead-up phase focused on peak events like Singles' Day and White Friday, employing Sponsored Brands, Sponsored Display, and display banners to convert brand-aware audiences and drive consideration. The lead-out phase concentrated on fostering loyalty and engaging in-market audiences through responsive e-commerce creatives (REC) and Sponsored Products.The results of the Lenovo Legion Q4 campaign exceeded expectations, reaching a broad audience in the UAE and generating significant revenue. The campaign garnered 33 million impressions, effectively raising awareness of the Lenovo Legion brand. With a strong return on ad spend (ROAS) of 7.81, the campaign demonstrated its ability to drive revenue and deliver a positive return on investment. Furthermore, 71% of the customers were new to the brand (NTB), indicating the campaign's success in expanding the reach of Lenovo Legion.The campaign's awareness-focused tactics, including video ads, achieved a remarkable 60% video completion rate (VCR), capturing viewers' attention and delivering engaging content. The campaign's click-through rate (CTR) of 0.18% surpassed industry benchmarks, showcasing the effectiveness of the creative messaging in driving user engagement. In terms of consideration, the campaign achieved a detail page view rate (DVPR) of 1.1%, indicating its success in driving potential customers to explore Lenovo Legion products.Demand generation tactics, such as REC and Sponsored Products, resulted in an exceptional ROAS of 19, highlighting the campaign's ability to drive conversions and create demand for Lenovo Legion laptops. Lastly, the campaign led to a 14% relative lift in ad recall, solidifying the brand's increased recognition and recall among the key audience.Lenovo Legion's Q4 campaign exemplifies the brand's dedication to empowering and supporting women in gaming, showcasing the versatile opportunities their products offer to enhance the gaming experience for all. By successfully reaching and resonating with their target audience, Lenovo has further strengthened their position as a leader in the gaming industry.

Merkle appoints Andreas Skopal as Managing Director for MENA

Dubai: Merkle, dentsu’s leading technology-enabled, data-driven customer experience management company, today announces the appointment of Andreas Skopal as Managing Director for the Middle East and North Africa region. Andreas brings with him over 20 years of experience in customer experience transformation, marketing, technology, and strategy across the MENA and APAC regions. With over ten years working for reputable digital consulting firms such as PWC and EY, Andreas has a solid background in guiding organizations through their transformation journeys, and most recently served as Partner and Global Head of Innovation, Growth, and Digital at Synpulse. Andreas has also held senior executive positions in major financial institutions in the MENA region, overseeing digital and marketing divisions. His track record of building high-performing and customer-focused teams, coupled with his experience in leading complex transformational delivery programs makes him an invaluable addition to the Merkle team.In his new role, Andreas will be at the forefront of delivering Merkle's diverse capabilities and services, which encompass media, analytics, data, identity, CX, and technology. His focus will be on supporting brands in their customer experience transformation and assisting them in navigating the complex data and technology decisions that support success locally, regionally and globally. He will lead the team across Riyadh, Dubai, Cairo, and Beirut in forging stronger alliance partnerships, generating new opportunities, fostering growth with existing clients, and enabling collaboration between dentsu's CXM, Media, and Creative Service Lines.Tarek Daouk, CEO of dentsu MENA said: “I am delighted to welcome Andreas to the MENA executive team. His proven expertise in digital transformation, strategy and innovation, and passion for cultivating long term, outcome-based relationships will be instrumental in unlocking growth opportunities for both our clients and our team. Andreas' distinctive combination of skills and experience aligns perfectly with Merkle's vision of becoming a market leader in the customer experience and transformation space.”Andreas Skopal, said: “I am extremely excited to be joining a company like Merkle at a time when brands in the region are accelerating their focus on achieving a distinct competitive advantage through building experiences that truly deliver on their brand promise. My focus at Merkle will be to bring together our depth in strategic and creative thinking, technical expertise and commercial execution, to help organizations deliver meaningful customer value.”  Merkle is one of the largest customer experience transformation leaders in globally, with over 16,000 talented individuals throughout the Americas, EMEA, and APAC. Merkle works with some of the most prestigious brands in the region catering to different service lines and industry verticals to provide leading edge customer experience management through its experts in Analytics, Data & Martech, Experience & Commerce and Strategy & Transformation

Sheraa's ChatGPT Hackathon revolutionizes digital solutions

Dubai: PANGAIA, the world’s most innovative materials science company, known for bringing problem-solving innovations to the world through premium lifestyle products, is opening its first Travel Retail store in the prime location of the Emirates’ hub in Dubai.PANGAIA’s purpose is to inspire and accelerate an Earth-positive future. To bring its purpose closer to consumers and invite people on the journey, PANGAIA collaborated with Lagardere Travel Retail and Dubai Airports as strategic partners to enter travel retail, with its first outpost at DXB, – the world’s busiest international airport for the 9th year running and a trend-setter among global aviation hubs.Store Experience & DesignPANGAIA is located in Concourse B, Terminal 3, and occupies a footprint of 182 sqm. The entrance is a bespoke large digital fascia that displays a sneak peek into PANGAIA’s ethos, and serves as a platform to introduce passengers to the brand’s Earth-positive mission. Upon entering, the space offers a unique immersion into nature, starting from the custom-built terrarium as a central feature to the natural soundscape and the invigorating scent in the fitting rooms to emulate the experience of being immersed in a forest. Echoing the brand's purpose, the PANGAIA store has been mindfully designed around locally sourced finishes, natural materials and energy-efficient LED lighting throughout.Product OfferPANGAIA has curated a broad range of powered by nature products that speak to the brand’s focus on ‘high tech naturalism’ and innovation through materials science. In addition to a wide range of the iconic organic or recycled cotton 365 loungewear styles, the concession will feature a collection of FLWRDWN™ outerwear, recycled wool and cashmere, plant-based activewear, grape leather sneakers, as well as jersey styles from FRUTFIBER™ and a selection of MIRUM® accessories.The opening of PANGAIA also marks the extension of Lagardère Travel Retail’s operations at DXB to Retail, in addition to its extensive and diverse portfolio of F&B outlets.Commenting on this announcement, Vadim Motlik, CEO, Lagardère Travel Retail UAE, said: ““This is truly a partnership between PANGAIA, Dubai Airports and Lagardere Travel Retail. The journey has been marked by a very collaborative and enthusiastic spirit, eager to bring the brand to life in the world’s busiest airport.This new business venture is a testament of Lagardere Travel Retail’s commitment to provide innovative and unique experiences to passengers, alongside the strong sustainability focus our business has for the years to come.”PANGAIA collective added: “Since our inception, PANGAIA’s mission has been to inspire and accelerate industry transformation towards an Earth-Positive future. With the incredible support of our partners, we were able to create an experience connecting the traveling audience back to nature, offering them a glimpse into the movement we are creating and having them join us on the journey towards more responsible production and consumption.” Welcoming the arrival of Pangaia to Dubai International, Eugene Barry, EVP - Commercial at Dubai Airports said, "Our partnership with Lagardère Travel Retail and Pangaia not only enhances the airport consumer experience for our guests, but also reinforces our commitment to sustainable practices. By bringing this highly innovative brand to DXB, we aim to inspire travellers to make conscious choices and create greater awareness about the collective power of individual actions. Together, we are creating spaces where environmental responsibility, creativity and style seamlessly coexist, offering DXB guests the opportunity to make a positive impact on their journeys."

Beyon Cyber signs deal with Injazat to boost regional coverage

Dubai: Beyon Cyber, a part of the Beyon Group and a leading regional provider of cybersecurity services based in Bahrain, has entered into a strategic MoU with Injazat, a leader in digital transformation and IT solutions, headquartered in Abu Dhabi.This strategic partnership aims to combine Injazat's digital transformation expertise with Beyon Cyber's advanced cybersecurity solutions and managed services, to deliver holistic and cutting-edge digital offerings to clients in the UAE and across the region, said the statement from the Bahrain group.Beyon Cyber delivers Cyber security services in Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia in addition to Maldives, Jordan, and Channel Islands.The collaboration between Beyon Cyber and Injazat marks an important milestone in the regional cybersecurity and digital transformation landscape, it stated.By merging Injazat's and Beyon Cyber’s experience and expertise in delivering secure digital services, both entities would be able to offer a unique value proposition to customers and enable collaboration on large scale business opportunities across the region, it added.This partnership also opens opportunities in new international markets and facilitates the extension of Beyon Cyber's advanced cybersecurity offerings, notably their industry-leading managed detection and response services, to Injazat's extensive customer base in the UAE and beyond, remarked Sheikh Khalid bin Daij Al Khalifa, CEO at Beyon Cyber after signing the deal with Ali Nimer, the CCO at Injazat at the Conrad Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi.The collaboration between Beyon Cyber and Injazat signifies a shared dedication to empower organizations to embrace digital transformation securely, stated Sheikh Khalid."By combining our joint expertise, we will not only be able to expand our reach to new markets but also deliver enhanced value to our customers through fully integrated digital solutions and managed security services that address the unique challenges faced by businesses today," he noted."Injazat, an industry recognized market leader in digital transformation, known for deep industry knowledge, is poised to leverage Beyon Cyber's state-of-the-art cybersecurity services to enhance its offerings," he added.Nimer said Injazat's combined expertise with Beyon Cyber expands the group's portfolio, enhances scalability and agility, taps into a wider customer base, and strengthens its value proposition."This partnership reflects Injazat’s unwavering dedication to delivering exceptional cybersecurity services, and we are confident that this collaboration will drive significant commercial success and reinforce our position as a key player in the GCC region’s cybersecurity market," he added.

Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy launches report on 'Dubai’s VC Ecosystem'

Dubai: Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, one of the three chambers operating under Dubai Chambers, has launched its third report on Dubai’s digital economy. The “Dubai's Venture Capital Ecosystem” report provides an overview of the investor landscape backing the start-ups and scale-ups that are transforming Dubai and the MENA region.Commenting on the release of the report, Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications and Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, said, “The UAE’s advanced digital ecosystem has accelerated the development of the entrepreneurship sector and contributed to significant growth in its activity. The country’s proactive vision in developing legislation and initiatives in the digital field creates a favorable environment for startups and fast-growing companies, which has attracted unicorn companies and investors from around the world and consolidated the UAE's position as a global hub for the digital economy.”Al Olama added, “The results in the report reflect our long-term commitment to developing smart digital solutions and deploying these to build a new and future-facing model for the economic sector in the UAE, and Dubai in particular, and underline the emirate’s position as a global capital for the future economy.”As Dubai sets its sights on becoming the global destination of choice for digital entrepreneurs, Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy is tasked with attracting leading tech companies, start-ups and scale-ups that can support Dubai’s digital ambitions. The chamber was created to build the world’s best digital infrastructure and transform Dubai into an international technology hub.With a series of visionary initiatives and investments in cutting-edge technology, Dubai is well on its way to achieving its ambitions. From its world-class fiberoptic network and cloud-based systems to its innovative approaches to smart city development, Dubai has set the standard for how cities can leverage technology to enhance the lives of its citizens and attract global businesses.Just one recent example is the opening of the Moro Hub in February 2023, world’s largest solar-powered data centre. The 100-MW facility is a Dubai 10X initiative, which is an innovative program launched by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2017. The initiative entails government entities creating disruptive, exponential change, placing Dubai 10 years ahead of leading global cities.According to the report, a total of 749 scale-ups across the MENA region (excluding Israel), have raised a total of over US$19.5 billion cumulatively over the past decade (2012-2022), with UAE scaleups accounting for 65 percent of total cumulative capital raised across the region.Today, Dubai is home to over 40 percent of the MENA region’s scale-ups, with 306 scale-ups calling the emirate home. Dubai still accounts for over 90 percent of all scale-ups in the country, which is home to 338 scale-ups in total.Dubai’s 306 scale-ups have raised over US$11.7 billion in funding over the course of the past decade, which represents an impressive 60 percent of the MENA region’s total cumulative fundraising total. In addition, in 2022, Dubai-based startups doubled-down on their prior year results, fundraising over US$2 billion.In addition, the growth of funding in the MENA region has exceeded US$4 billion in 2021 and 2022 and the number of mega-rounds of US$300 million or more has seen an increasing trend with three seen in 2021 and six in 2022, including two scaleups listing on stock exchanges.In 2022, there was a significant shift in the number of funding rounds, where scale-ups raised funding, and a trend towards larger cheque sizes and funding bracket gained momentum. In the US$100 million to US$1 billion range, funding rounds increased by more than 100 percent between 2021 and 2022. Other funding ranges also saw increases between 20 percent to 87 percent.Considering the source of capital raise, venture capital and corporate rounds accounted for over three quarters of the capital raised, while IPOs and ICOs accounted for nearly equal share.The number of scaleups have also increased considerably, in Dubai, growing 26 percent between 2021 and 2022. In terms of absolute numbers, Dubai saw an increase of 64 scale-ups between 2021 and 2022 growing from 242 to 306 scale-ups.Venture funding in Dubai has seen tremendous growth in the past decade. From a time of only seed stage and earlier rounds, Dubai has grown to become the only city in the MENA region to be home to startups to raise funds in Series E and Series F rounds.The report, which was produced in collaboration with Entrepreneur Middle East, reveals that more than 30 percent of the funding rounds are attributed to startups headquartered in Dubai, implying 87 percent of all funding rounds for UAE-based companies are for firms headquartered in the emirate.By 2031, the national digital economy is expected to be conservatively valued at well over US$140 billion (from today’s US$38 billion). Together with Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, it is the collaboration between stakeholders and ecosystem players that will ensure that Dubai becomes the next digital economy capital of the world

Intigral announces partnership with Saudi-based Bedaya TV

Intigral, the media arm of stc Group and MENA region’s leading provider of digital entertainment, announced its strategic partnership with Bedaya TV, a socially-oriented Saudi channel dedicated to producing reality TV shows and promoting local content and talent. Bedaya TV is one of the largest Arabic channels in terms of television production and is widely acclaimed for its community reach and popularity among audiences in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries.Through the new partnership with Bedaya TV, Intigral emphasizes its strategy to offer users more viewing options and make all their favorite content accessible through one easy-to-navigate platform. This collaboration builds upon Intigral's commitment to empowering local talent and developing the Saudi digital entertainment sector while cementing its position as a digital entertainment leader in the MENA region.Leveraging its investment in an innovative suite of top-rated services, and strategic partnerships, Intigral harnesses the power of its aggregator platform, stc tv, to customize the viewing experience to match the individual preferences of each viewer. This customer-centric approach guarantees that subscribers enjoy a personalized and seamless entertainment journey.Commenting on the partnership, Intigral’s CEO Makus Golder said, “We are thrilled to collaborate with Bedaya TV in our shared mission to empower and promote Saudi talent and contribute to the growth of a sustainable and vibrant ecosystem for content creation in the Kingdom. This strategic partnership resonates with our strategy and the exceptional value our platforms bring to all stakeholders, including our business partners and end users. Intigral strives to captivate and delight viewers with its top-tier offerings, providing businesses with comprehensive solutions to deliver unparalleled digital entertainment experiences to their customers. By seamlessly integrating our platforms’ cutting-edge solutions and extensive content library, we empower businesses to elevate customer engagement and foster growth within the rapidly evolving digital landscape.”On his part, Bedaya TV Chairman Ibrahim Alshehri said: “We’re pleased to join forces with Intigral to provide exceptional digital entertainment and enhance customers' experience. Bedaya TV and Intigral are committed to empowering Saudi talent to indulge in captivating experiences that transcend boundaries and ignite their imaginations. Our objective is to deliver quality content that brings entertainment and joy to a wide-ranging audience, and stc tv allows us to reach the most relevant segment of video streamers in KSA”Intigral's master aggregator approach ensures a seamless digital experience supported by an industry-leading streaming service. By aggregating and curating top regional and global content, Intigral provides audiences across the region with a streamlined entertainment experience over a single platform with one account and a single bill.With a team of over 200 OTT experts and an impressive portfolio of more than 30 global content partnerships, Intigral has solidified its position as the preferred content streaming partner for telecom operators across the MENA region.

Meta launches Voicebox, revolutionizing speech generation with cutting-edge AI

Meta has launched Voicebox, a cutting-edge generative AI model designed to revolutionize the field of speech generation. Voicebox demonstrates remarkable capabilities in audio editing, sampling, and styling, unlocking a wide range of possibilities for creators and users alike.Voicebox leverages state-of-the-art AI algorithms to perform tasks such as editing, sampling, and stylizing audio content, even without explicit training for these specific functions. By utilizing in-context learning, this groundbreaking model can produce high-quality audio clips and manipulate pre-recorded audio while preserving the original content and style. For instance, Voicebox can seamlessly remove unwanted background noises like car horns or barking dogs, offering a transformative audio editing experience.One of the most remarkable features of Voicebox is its multilingual capabilities. The model can generate speech in six languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Polish, and Portuguese. This versatility opens up a world of possibilities for future applications. Imagine virtual assistants and non-player characters in the metaverse speaking with natural-sounding voices or visually impaired individuals receiving written messages from friends read aloud by AI in their own voices.The potential use cases for Voicebox are vast and include:  1. In-context text-to-speech synthesis: With Voicebox, a mere two-second audio sample is sufficient to match the audio style and use it for text-to-speech generation.  2. Speech editing and noise reduction: Voicebox can recreate interrupted speech segments or replace misspoken words without requiring the re-recording of an entire speech. It acts as an audio editing eraser, effortlessly enhancing the listening experience.  3. Cross-lingual style transfer: By providing Voicebox with a speech sample and a text passage in different languages, the model can produce a natural reading of the text in any of the supported languages. This breakthrough technology fosters authentic communication across language barriers.  4. Diverse speech sampling: Voicebox has been trained on diverse data, resulting in the generation of speech that accurately reflects how people speak in real-world scenarios and across the supported languages.Meta's Voicebox represents a significant leap forward in the realm of generative AI research. This breakthrough technology not only paves the way for enhanced audio editing and manipulation capabilities but also offers numerous possibilities for enriching human interactions, accessibility, and creative expression.Meta looks forward to further exploring the audio space. The company encourages other researchers to build upon this work and collaborate in pushing the boundaries of generative AI.

MENA beauty and personal market to reach $61bln by 2026

Dubai: The global beauty and personal market is expected to reach USD 729 billion by 2026 while the Middle East & Africa region is worth USD 36 billion, and is expected to reach USD 61 billion by 2026, according to Euromonitor. GCC countries continue to have one of the highest per capita spend globally of $250 within the category.In the same context, Qaadu, a premium brand specializing in ayurveda, plant-based, cruelty-free beauty and wellness products, has announced its official launch in the UAE. Inspired by the rich heritage of Ayurveda, Qaadu was conceived in the vibrant city of Dubai, where traditional wisdom blends harmoniously with modern lifestyles.“We are delighted to announce the introduction of Qaadu to the dynamic market of Dubai. Recognized as a cosmopolitan center that thrives on diversity, innovation, and sustainability, Dubai provides an ideal platform for our brand. With utmost confidence, we anticipate that the astute clientele of Dubai will warmly embrace the meticulously designed, cruelty-free product range that Qaadu has to offer,” said Shafin Kalathingal, (pictured above), Founder of Qaadu.During the COVID crisis, Shafin Kalathingal, a dedicated investment banker in the UAE, experienced job loss. However, refusing to succumb, he summoned unwavering determination and unleashed his visionary creation, Qaadu, upon the world.Qaadu, which translates to 'forest' in several Indian languages, takes inspiration from nature and herbal remedies for all its formulas. Qaadu has partnered with several pharmacies and hypermarkets across the United Arab Emirates. The brand's products are now available across Lulu Hypermarkets in the UAE. Qaadu is also accessible across pharmacy stores of DOCIB Group, Med7 and Aster Group. Qaadu products are extensively available on the brand's official website, as well as popular platforms such as, Carrefour UAE, Mumzworld, Bevegan, Noon and more.Qaadu's product line encompasses skincare, hair care, bath and body, and wellness essentials. Each product is formulated with a meticulous approach, ensuring the highest standards of purity, efficacy, and environmental responsibility."Our wide-ranging product portfolio caters to a diverse spectrum of health and wellness needs. From nourishing hair care solutions to revitalizing skin care essentials, we offer a comprehensive selection suitable for individuals of all ages. Moving forward, our vision is to establish ourselves as the ultimate brand for health and beauty needs for the entire family," added Shafin.All products from Qaadu have obtained certifications from The Vegan Society of the United Kingdom, the oldest and most respected vegan certification available. Additionally, all their products are manufactured in facilities certified under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), and their nutraceuticals and ayurvedic wellness products are produced in facilities registered with the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).Qaadu has secured a favourable investment from an Angel Investor within the oil and gas industry. This funding will be allocated towards inventory management, product development, and marketing endeavors. The brand has also formed partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to initiate its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

Vivium Holding joins MEVP as Cornerstone Partner

Dubai: Vivium Holding, a progressive single-family office headquartered in Dubai, has announced its partnership with MEVP (Middle East Venture Partners), a leading venture capital asset manager in the MENA region, as Cornerstone Partner. The collaboration marks an important milestone in expanding both companies’ investments horizons, fostering growth and innovation in the region's entrepreneurial ecosystem.MEVP has been at the forefront of venture capital investing in the MENA region for more than a decade with a strong record of successful investments in technology start-ups across various sectors. Vivium Holding’s mission to invest in talent, ideas and build brands to leave a meaningful generational impact establishes powerful synergies that strengthen the collaboration. By joining forces with MEVP as Cornerstone Partner, Vivium aims to leverage its expertise and resources to identify and support the most promising technology start-ups in MENA.Vivium Holding is focused on building purposeful value creation for investors, stakeholders, and businesses in the MENA region through its diversified investment portfolio in the areas of luxury residential and hospitality, technology, and passion investments such as art and design.MEVP currently manages four regional technology-focused venture capital funds with more than USD 300 million in assets under management and USD 1.6 billion in co-investments. MEVP has successfully backed more than 60 start-ups across MENA including industry leaders such as Anghami, the Nasdaq-listed MENA leader in music streaming and digital entertainment, digital payment infrastructure provider HyperPay, and Fresha, one of the top global digital marketplaces for beauty and wellness services.The partnership is established as MEVP launches its fourth flagship MENA VC fund – the Middle East Venture Fund IV (MEVF IV) – with a target size of USD 150 million. MEVF IV’s will focus on investing in innovative early-stage and growth-stage technology companies and supporting their growth into MENA market leaders.“We are pleased to join MEVP in this strategic partnership that underscores our commitment to support the growth of innovative start-ups in MENA.” said Elie Khouri, Founder and CEO of Vivium Holding. “Together, we will accelerate the development of the region’s thriving VC ecosystem, empowering start-ups to grow into mainstream regional and global champions and to create long-term sustainable businesses.”Walid Hanna, Chairman and co-CEO of MEVP, added: “My MEVP Partners and I are thrilled to have Vivium Holding join us as Cornerstone Partner. Vivium Holding’s strong focus on technology investments and their global perspective on innovation will complement MEVP’s existing capabilities, allowing us to together create even more value to both our portfolios and to the wider entrepreneurship community in the MENA region.”Vivium Holding's appointment as Cornerstone Partner with MEVP is timely; the MENA region continues to witness a surge in entrepreneurial activity, with startups disrupting traditional industries and driving digital transformation. The collaboration between Vivium Holding and MEVP is poised to drive economic growth, job creation, and technological advancements across the MENA region.Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Hopscotch expands footprint with new Saudi office

Riyadh: HOPSCOTCH Groupe, a communications consulting group and a major player in digital, PR, influence, and events, has expanded its presence with the launch of a new office in Saudi Arabia. To mark its Saudi debut, HOPSCOTCH Saudi, has taken part in Saudi Entertainment and Amusement (SEA) from May 28th to May 30th May.This strategic move reflects HOPSCOTCH’s ongoing growth and market influence, as well as its commitment to meeting the increasing demand for its high-quality services in Saudi Arabia, in support of Saudi Vision 2030. With this expansion, HOPSCOTCH’s integrated international network now spans 37 offices across 5 continents, positioning the company’s capacity to engage and support clients on a global scale.His Excellency the Ambassador of the Republic of France to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, graced the opening of Hopscotch Saudi office and expressed his warm welcome for the launch. He stated, “We are thrilled to witness the official launch of HOPSCOTCH Groupe, a leading French-based Global PR, in Saudi Arabia. We strongly believe that Hopscotch’s presence in the region will further strengthen the successful cooperation between France and Saudi Arabia, while actively supporting Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. The French-Saudi cooperation is diverse, offering great opportunities for French companies, especially in the areas of sustainable cities, energy, healthcare, education, digital economy, hospitality, and tourism sectors”.“The expansion of HOPSCOTCH is in line with our strategy of providing the most creative and innovative communications solutions. The opening of our Riyadh office represents a significant milestone for our Group as we continue to expand our network and influence in the region. As part of our commitment to support Vision 2030, we have been operating in the Middle East, collaborating with high-end clients in Saudi and the GCC on a number of projects,” states Frédéric Bedin, Managing Director and President of the Management Board of Hopscotch Groupe. As part of HOPSCOTCH’s operations in Saudi Arabia, the company has actively participated in the Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Expo (SEA). This global event brought together professionals from around the world in the fields of entertainment and attraction under one roof, creating a unique global experience for like-minded individuals.Pierrick Moizan, Hopscotch’s Middle East Director, said: “The establishment of our new Riyadh office provides us with the opportunity to further support our clients in Saudi and the GCC, enabling their visibility and reputation through fresh, innovative, and tailored communication strategies. As we support our clients in their international growth, we had the pleasure of participating in the Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Expo (SEA). I greatly enjoyed contributing to various influential panels, sharing Hopscotch’s best practices and success stories with industry peers.”Marie-Laure Boulot de Vomecourt has been appointed as Managing Director of Hopscotch Entertainment and Communication. Marie has over 20 years of experience in both France and Saudi Arabia.

Dell, NVIDIA introduce Project Helix for secure, on-premises generative AI

Dubai: Dell Technologies (NYSE: DELL) and NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) announce a joint initiative to make it easier for businesses to build and use generative AI models on-premises to quickly and securely deliver better customer service, market intelligence, enterprise search and a range of other capabilities.Project Helix will deliver a series of full-stack solutions with technical expertise and pre-built tools based on Dell and NVIDIA infrastructure and software. It includes a complete blueprint to help enterprises use their proprietary data and more easily deploy generative AI responsibly and accurately.  “Project Helix gives enterprises purpose-built AI models to more quickly and securely gain value from the immense amounts of data underused today,” said Jeff Clarke, vice chairman and co-chief operating officer, Dell Technologies. “With highly scalable and efficient infrastructure, enterprises can create a new wave of generative AI solutions that can reinvent their industries.”“We are at a historic moment, when incredible advances in generative AI are intersecting with enterprise demand to do more with less,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO, NVIDIA. “With Dell Technologies, we’ve designed extremely scalable, highly efficient infrastructure that enables enterprises to transform their business by securely using their own data to build and operate generative AI applications.”Project Helix simplifies enterprise generative AI deployments with a tested combination of optimized hardware and software, all available from Dell. This delivers the power to convert enterprise data into smarter, higher value outcomes, while maintaining data privacy. These solutions will help companies quickly deploy customized AI applications that drive trusted decisions from their own data to grow and scale their businesses.Blueprint for on-premises generative AI Project Helix will support the complete generative AI lifecycle – from infrastructure provisioning, modeling, training, fine-tuning, application development and deployment, to deploying inference and streamlining results. The validated designs help enterprises quickly build on-premises generative AI infrastructure at scale.Dell PowerEdge servers, such as the PowerEdge XE9680 and PowerEdge R760xa, are optimized to deliver performance for generative AI training and AI inferencing. The combination of Dell servers with NVIDIA® H100 Tensor Core GPUs and NVIDIA Networking form the infrastructure backbone for these workloads. Customers can pair this infrastructure with resilient and scalable unstructured data storage, including Dell PowerScale and Dell ECS Enterprise Object Storage. With all Dell Validated Designs, customers can use the enterprise features of Dell server and storage software, with observability through Dell CloudIQ software. Project Helix also includes NVIDIA AI Enterprise software to provide tools for customers as they move through the AI lifecycle. NVIDIA AI Enterprise includes more than 100 frameworks, pretrained models and development tools such as the NVIDIA NeMo™ large language model framework and NeMo Guardrails software for building topical, safe and secure generative AI chatbots.Project Helix includes security and privacy built into foundational components, such as Secured Component Verification. Protecting data on-premises reduces inherent risk and helps companies meet regulatory requirements. “Companies are eager to explore the opportunities that generative AI tools enable for their organizations, but many aren’t sure how to get started,” said Bob O’Donnell, president and chief analyst, TECHnalysis Research. “By putting together a complete hardware and software solution from trusted brands, Dell Technologies and NVIDIA are offering enterprises a head start to building and refining AI-powered models that can leverage their own company’s unique assets and create powerful, customized tools.”

Hyundai Motor and Kia Transform R&D Organization to Embrace Startup

Dubai, United Arab Emirates,: Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation today announced they are reorganizing their joint research and development (R&D) organization to flexibly respond to the rapidly changing global automotive industry, advance the transition to electrification and accelerate the development of Software Defined Vehicles (SDVs). The new R&D organization will transform from a centralized structure focused on vehicle development to an independent Allianced Tech Organization (ATO).  By establishing an R&D organization that enables the timely development of innovative devices and services, Hyundai Motor and Kia are committed to leading the future mobility market where electrification and software capabilities are the key enablers.  To this end, Hyundai Motor and Kia have grouped together and elevated the areas directly related to vehicle development to enhance new vehicle development and secure quality in mass production. The companies also separated the next-generation innovative technology teams within the existing R&D Division as a stand-alone Tech Unit.  The revamped R&D organization will be led by its new Chief Technology Officer (CTO), with each Total Vehicle Development (TVD) Division, Vehicle SW Tech Unit, and Mobility Engineering and Tech Acceleration (META) Tech Unit, as well as new business and Design Centers being reorganized to have their own development systems.  During this organizational restructure, Executive Vice President Yong Hwa Kim, who has been leading the R&D Division, was promoted to President and named CTO. Kim will oversee the entire R&D organization, while also taking place of Head of Vehicle SW Tech Unit. In addition, Executive Vice President Heui Won Yang, who previously held the position of Head of Total Vehicle Development Tech Unit, was named to the Head of TVD Division, securing continuity in R&D amid the extensive organizational restructuring.  “The new R&D organization will be fast and flexible, operating with the agility of a startup, and will enable us to lead in the rapidly changing mobility landscape,” said President and CTO Yong Hwa Kim. “While the previous organization was focused on the efficient development of vehicles, the new dynamic structure will meet ongoing changes in global consumer demands and expands the organization to deliver aligned solutions in future mobility, electrification, software and robotics.”

Colm McLoughlin Named One of the 100 Images RetailME Icons of Retail

Dubai: Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, Colm McLoughlin was named as one of the 100 Images RetailME Icons of Retail at an exclusive celebration and awards gala held on 14th June at the Address Dubai Marina.Organised by Images RetailME, a retail intelligence media brand in the Middle East, the Icons of Retail Awards recognised the outstanding achievements and invaluable contributions of aspirational and transformational retail leaders in the MENA region.Mr. McLoughlin was acknowledged for his visionary leadership that has resulted in Dubai Duty Free's success in retailing for 40 years now.Prior to the evening awards gala, McLoughlin was one of the speakers at the Images RetailME symposium on transformational retail leadership entitled “THINK! I CAN!”. The one-day programme, which focused on the idea of decoding ‘what makes an ICON’, aimed at creating a day of learning for the retail industry and to help create the industry’s next Icons.During his session, where he was interviewed by DXB Today host Katie Overy, McLoughlin talked about his role on Dubai Duty Free’s 40 years of retail success.On receiving the award, McLoughlin said, "I’m deeply honoured and very touched to be named as one of the 100 Icons of Retail in the MENA region. My thanks to Images RetailME team for organising the event and thanks to the jury. As always, my thanks to our Chairman, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum and to our extraordinary team of employees."As a tribute to all the Icons, a first-of-its-kind ICONS Book was also launched that evening.The ICONS of Retail Yearbook is an initiative to recognise the transformational achievements of MENA’s most powerful retail personalities who have, through their efforts, brought about iconic changes to the domain of retail. The honorees list divided into four segments – the Legacy Makers, the Visionaries, the Trailblazers, and the Disruptors, has been painstakingly compiled following a year-long process of research, analysis, and adjudication. Joining McLoughlin in the list are Patrick Chalhoub, CEO of Chalhoub Group, Renuka Jagtiani, CEO of Landmark Group, M. A. Yusuff Ali, Chairman and Managing Director of LuLu Group International and Toufic Kreidieh, CEO of Brands for Less to name a few.McLoughlin was accompanied by his wife Breeda at the awards gala, along with Salah Tahlak, Joint COO, Sinead El Sibai, SVP – Marketing, Dr. Bernard Creed, SVP – Finance, Michael Schmidt, SVP - Retail and Sharon Beecham, SVP – Purchasing.

Private sector must take further action to retain Emirati talent

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: - PwC Middle East has issued its first-ever 2023 Emiratisation Survey, The Retention Riddle: How to keep Emirati talent in the private sector, that explores how the UAE is actualising the country’s national vision mandate of boosting Emirati representation in the private-sector workforce.The survey polled 500 nationals working across the UAE public and private sectors and new graduates emerging into the workplace. It finds that while interest in private-sector employment in the UAE is beginning to increase among the younger generation, nationals often do not stay the course. Two-thirds of those currently working in private companies are considering a return to the public sector.Additionally, one of the salient themes in the survey is that private sector companies must take further action to boost national talent retention to avoid any risk in delivering sustained economic development for the UAE.Khaled Bin Braik, Emiratisation Programme Leader - PwC Middle East, commented, “The Emiratisation survey was conducted to create an impact in both public and private sectors, as well as to support the government and economy. Collectively, we all must play a leading role in helping the UAE achieve its shared vision and continue building a sustainable, prosperous economic future. The time has come for us to work together to deliver the agenda of this ambitious nation.”The survey underpins five key themes as outlined below:The impetus for changeSo far, the UAE economy has heavily relied on expatriate workers, who represent 89% of the population and 92% of the workforce. Emiratis account for just 4% of employees in the private sector today.Driving nationalisation at scaleIn and beyond the GCC, countries are increasingly adopting nationalisation initiatives at scale to enhance the participation of nationals in the labour market, particularly in the private sector. 75,000 is the target number of Emiratis the UAE government aims to be integrated within the UAE private sector by 2026. Active measures include cross-cutting policies, targeted regulations, upskilling initiatives, incentives to employers, and dedicated investments to boost job opportunities and connect labour-market stakeholders.Harnessing growing graduate interest in private-sector workAccording to the survey, over half of participating Emirati graduates said they would likely join the private sector upon completing their studies. Yet, many also perceive barriers to entry.Contrasting perceptions of the public and private sectorsIn the survey, most public and private sector employees reported satisfaction with their overall job experience; more than 8 in 10 are happy with their current learning and development opportunities, and roughly two-thirds believe that there is a clear path for career progression – as well as the existence of a fair and equitable performance management system.Private-sector leaders need to act nowWhile the government continues to be the leading driver of nationalisation in the UAE, the onus is now on private-sector leaders to take up the challenge. That means transitioning from playing a supporting role to a leading one in driving nationalisation. The survey highlights seven steps for retaining nationals in the private sector.With the UAE experiencing globalisation, digital and urban transformation and sustainability are reshaping labour demand; this has created jobs that require new skills while making other employment opportunities and skills obsolete. The Emiratisation Survey 2023 emphasises that understanding and responding to the preconceptions and preferences of Emirati employees are crucial if employers are to break down traditional barriers and secure the strongest appointments long-term.PwC Middle East prioritises nationalisation as a core part of its people strategy, aligning with its purpose of solving client problems and building trust. Since 2012, PwC has launched the "Watani" programme, ensuring UAE national representation across service lines. This Emiratisation initiative, supports national talent at every career stage, offering dedicated programs, client exchanges, and comprehensive training opportunities. As part of PwC Middle East’s New Equation strategy, the firm upskills its workforce, fostering a community of solvers with human-led and tech-powered solutions.

Bajaj Allianz Life establishes presence in Dubai

Dubai: Bajaj Allianz Life, one of the leading private life insurer, has announced the opening of its first representative office in Dubai, UAE. The expansion of its presence in the region is in line with the Company’s strategy to deliver on its Customer First promise to its NRI customers based in Dubai and the GCC region.The Company’s representative office will enable any customer to walk-in and experience a seamless customer service journey. Customers with Bajaj Allianz Life’s products, ranging from protection, investments, savings, and retirement, will now find it easier, simpler and faster to resolve their queries and receive any relevant updates. With a sizeable NRI customer base in the GCC region the Company will focus on offering unhindered service with regards the customers policy as well as resolve queries related to fund values and more.Commenting on the Company's international expansion, Mr. Tarun Chugh, MD & CEO, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance said, "GCC’s sizable NRI community is of pivotal importance to us, and we are glad to have had the opportunity to be present here through our new office. The Company is geared to offer customers’ a seamless experience and ensure their life goals journey remains on track. With our Customer First focus we bring here empowered teams, latest technologies and contextual innovations to ensure every engagement our NRI customers have with us is a delight. I’m confident that we will continuously invest in this proposition to ensure we remain the preferred life insurer of our NRI customers based here”.The opening of the representative office in Dubai marks an important milestone in Bajaj Allianz Life's growth strategy and demonstrates the Company's commitment to better serving its customers in the Gulf market.

Dubai to host GameExpo Summit for gaming industry leaders

Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) announced the GameExpo Summit, a two-day business conference for professionals from the gaming and esports industry. The event will take place on June 21-22 at the South Halls, Dubai Exhibition Centre, Expo City, Dubai.The summit will feature more than 700 attendees, including over 100 industry thought leaders and government officials. There will be keynote speeches, panel discussions, fringe events, and networking sessions. The summit will cover topics such as AI, Web3, the metaverse, global and MENA trends, esports, publishing, and development.Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals & Retail Establishment (DFRE), commented, "We are thrilled to elevate the gametech sector in the UAE, nurturing this growing community and driving investment by bringing together global games professionals to Dubai. The GameExpo Summit is the region's premium games industry and B2B knowledge platform, with a full agenda, attracting professionals from around the world, making it an excellent opportunity for businesses to connect with potential partners from different regions. We are committed to strengthening Dubai’s leadership in gaming and esports, and the industry Summit will act as a regional hub for the sector.”Chris James, CEO of Steel Media (the parent company of the PG Connects B2B events series which is powering the GameExpo Summit), said, “The Middle East is the most dynamic and fastest growing frontier of the games market right now. Add in the fact that Dubai is a great hub for the region, a hot-bed of technological innovation, and an incredible place to visit in its own right, and the concept of having a games event here is obvious! At Steel Media we feel there's an opportunity to grow a meaningful games event in the city, starting this year - which is why we're bringing the best elements of the market-leading PG Connects conference series ( into the Dubai GameExpo Summit.”Attendees can also participate in the Investor Connector matchmaking activity, a networking session to meet with investors from around the globe, and Publisher SpeedMatch, a curated networking opportunity to connect with publishers.

Italy's top-flight football league Lega Serie A inaugurates first MENA office

Italy’s premier professional football league, Lega Serie A, today inaugurated its first Middle East and North Africa (MENA) office in Abu Dhabi at a media event that also saw the launch of the brand's strategic vision and plans for the region.The event was hosted by Lega Serie A’s Michele Ciccarese, Commercial and Marketing Director, Anna Guarnerio, International Media Rights Director, Alfonso De Stefano, Managing Director MENA and Omar Al Hakim, Head of Brand Partnerships MENA.The latest international expansion for the Italian league will enable Lega Serie A to broaden its influence across the MENA region, with an emphasis on the GCC and North Africa. The new MENA office – which is located in Yas Creative Hub on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi – will provide a regional base for the league to increase its fan base in the region by building connections with the 53% of the MENA population who have an interest in football.  The Italian league aims to do this with a strategic plan and roadmap that will unlock opportunities for collaboration with local and regional partners; raise the profile of the league’s iconic clubs, such as Juventus, AC Milan, Fc Inter, As Roma, Ssc Napoli and Lazio; and better engage with the region’s Calcio fans through increased investment in grassroots talent, new charitable activities in regional markets, and bespoke content and content partnerships designed for Millennial and Gen Z audiences. "We are very pleased to continue our global expansion project of the 'Calcio’ product and to face new challenges that represent fundamental steps towards the internationalisation of Italian football," Luigi De Siervo, CEO of Lega Serie A, stated. "With our presence and the opening of the new office, our goal is to be closer to fans and longtime supporters in a strategic market like the Middle East. At the same time, we aim to promote a healthy education of the new generations in the values of sports, involving them both on and off the field through projects with digital experiences. Additionally, we are developing entertainment initiatives for fans by localising events of Lega Serie A that will feature the presence of teams, players, and legends. Thanks to our broadcasters and regional partners, Abu Dhabi Media and Starzplay, we will bring football close to the fans for a unique and immersive experience. We are convinced – De Siervo concluded – that through the spread of our product in these areas, many young talents from the Middle East will have the opportunity to regularly play in Serie A."Commenting on the announcement, Alfonso De Stefano, Managing Director MENA of Lega Serie A, said: “The MENA region is a crucial market for us, with a deep passion for football and a growing interest in the Italian game. There are already an estimated 16 million Lega Serie A fans in the region – half of them under the age of 25 – and connecting with this fan base and with the wider audience of football lovers in the region is our top priority. Our new headquarters strengthens our regional presence, giving us direct access to fans, and opening doors to a range of future collaborations with key stakeholders in our sport and beyond.”At the office opening, Lega Serie A also underscored its commitment to establishing grassroots initiatives to encourage and develop local talent, passion and skill in partnership with regional football associations and training academies.Omar Al Hakim, Head of Brand Partnerships MENA of Lega Serie A, said: “Our mission here is not only to promote Lega Serie A, but also to be a catalyst for football development in the MENA region. We are looking to establish relationships and forge partnerships with organisations who share our values to nurture local talent and promote the appreciation for the sport throughout the region.”To build engagement with football fans, particularly its Gen Z audiences, Lega Serie A recently launched a bilingual English and Arabia Snapchat account to host regionally relevant content – the first such account from a global football league with Arabic content for MENA audiences. The league also confirmed that it will announce a number of new initiatives and content partnerships in the coming months.In 2022, Lega Serie A signed a broadcasting partnership with Abu Dhabi Media and Starzplay, which are now exclusively streaming the league’s matches to audiences across 20 countries in the MENA region.

Havas Media Middle East promotes Naveen Mathews as GM

Dubai: Havas Middle East has promoted Naveen Chako Mathews as the General Manager for Havas Media UAE. Mathews, who has been with Havas Media for over nine years in the role of Head of Business, will now oversee all media operations in the UAE and client servicing in his new position. He will also support Havas Media's CEO, Houda Tohme, in expanding the agency's offerings. In a restructuring of responsibilities, Tohme will shift her focus to the Media Group's expansion into new Middle Eastern markets and its operations in Saudi Arabia.Expressing his gratitude for the leadership's trust and encouragement, Naveen Chako Mathews, the newly appointed General Manager, shared his excitement about taking on the role and further evolving the agency's offerings. CEO Houda Tohme praised Mathews' dedication and strategic thinking, highlighting his significant contributions and outstanding results that have played a crucial role in the agency's success.Havas also announced the promotions of Fabio Silveira and Dana Tahir to Managing Directors. Fabio Silveira, who has been with the Havas Group in various markets for over a decade, and Dana Tahir, who joined Havas Middle East in 2008, will continue to develop the business in their new roles.Dany Naaman, CEO of Havas Middle East, expressed confidence in the promoted leaders and their ability to drive growth, enhance the quality of work and services, and execute ambitious growth plans in the region. The agency is also undergoing global changes, including a rebranding of its visual identity, which will be rolled out across all markets, including the Middle East, later this year.

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

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

KAVAK appoints Nicolas Ariza Bagoud as GM for GCC region

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

Veeam welcomes Kacy Hassack as Chief People and Culture Officer

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

Gambit Communications wins Majid Al Futtaim accounts

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

Rain, Amazon Payment Services partner for unique B2B advertising

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

Leo Burnett Middle East tops the Global Effies Index 2022

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

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

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

Lockheed Martin taps Abdullah Alajmi to head space business development

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

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

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

KPMG launches Generative AI Adoption framework in collaboration with Microsoft

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

Middle East emerges as a gaming powerhouse: BCG report

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

UAE IT leaders say their digital infra can accommodate AI technology

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

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

DMS partners with Footballco to revolutionize sports marketing in MENA

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

The Independents secures USD 400 million investment

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

GoDaddy introduces new cyber security offering

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

Epicor appoints Chief Product & Technology Officer

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

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

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

Super trendy furniture brand Daze launches first store in the UAE

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

Bridgestone EMIA highlights positive outlook of EV market in Middle East

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

SEVEN signs partnership agreement with Al Hilal Saudi Club

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

Epson provides insights on fostering innovation for tech enterprises in MENA

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

UAE football fans can stream Manchester City’s treble bid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharjah Communication Award recognizes impactful communication

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

Saudi media group SRMG partners with NEOM

Riyadh: Saudi-headquartered media group SRMG has signed a MoU with NEOM Media Industries. Under the MoU, NEOM will leverage SRMG’s media expertise, extensive portfolio and established partnerships to increase content production in Saudi Arabia. This builds on the growing success of the sector in the Kingdom, as investment into infrastructure and upskilling of talent positions NEOM as a world-class production hub. SRMG’s existing and new partners will benefit from the collaboration between both brands, including access to world-class production facilities. Beyond production, SRMG and NEOM Media Industries will work together to design joint talent development and industry training programmes to continue to uplift the breadth and depth of the media talent pool within the region – including journalism, script writing and production. These programmes will build on the successful collaboration between NEOM and SRMG Academy in November last year - the “Stories to Tell” journalism bootcamp – which trained and upskilled young Saudi journalism graduates and media professionals and resulted in 22 interns being hired by SRMG. Nadhmi Al-Nasr, Chief Executive Officer of NEOM, said: “NEOM aims to be an accelerator of human progress – innovating across multiple industries and sectors to redefine business. NEOM Media Industries is one such example. Our mission is to create a new world-class media hub at NEOM, one that focuses on providing for screen production, gaming and digital publishing. This partnership with SRMG complements and accelerates NEOM’s commitment to creating a regional center to establish NEOM amongst the elite global media hubs.” Jomana R. Al-Rashid, Chief Executive Officer of SRMG, added: “This partnership represents an important moment for the media ecosystem in the MENA region. Working together, NEOM and SRMG will increase capability and capacity of localized production; accelerate media technology; and create new revenue streams for the industry. Through empowering local content creators, we will ensure that home-grown talent is nurtured and that regional stories are told on a world stage. There is extraordinary untapped creativity in the MENA region, and we are delighted to have created this opportunity to champion it.” Additional aspects of the MoU include media technology development, co-organising events at NEOM, and SRMG exploring establishing an early presence at NEOM in the long run.

Astra Tech launches autonomous shopping experience with Facepay

Dubai: Astra Tech, the leading consumer technology holding group in the MENA region, has officially launched its first autonomous shopping store in Sky Tower, Abu Dhabi; the imaginative brick-and-mortar location operates solely using artificial intelligence (AI). “B Store,” an innovative retail concept, is revolutionizing the shopping experience in the UAE through faster payment processing and fewer hassles. Powered by cutting-edge AI technology and cloud integration, B Store offers a seamless and fully automated shopping experience that lets shoppers pay for their purchases by simply using their faces.Integrating facial recognition technology for customer payments in an autonomous store is a unique offering that sets Astra apart. The store focuses on grocery items with extended shelf life, ensuring customer satisfaction and convenience. This innovative combination showcases Astra’s commitment to expanding and enhancing its services. At B Store, shoppers can expect a hassle-free journey from start to finish, as the process is designed to provide a seamless and convenient shopping experience. Upon approaching the entry gates, the customer is greeted with an ELO screen displaying a message, "Tap or Scan to Enter." They have the option to pay using the POS machine by tapping their card or utilizing Payby’s revolutionary FacePay; users can act out the action instead of selecting an on screen. For card payments, customers proceed to tap the POS machine with their card, while for FacePay, they move to the FacePay machine and simply look at it. Once the payment method is completed, the ELO screen will initiate a question about their receipt.When selecting their preferred option, the gates open, granting access to the store.. Inside the store, customers can comfortably retrieve their desired items in the most convenient and smooth manner. Upon leaving, they receive a text message on the provided phone number, expressing gratitude for their trip and informing them that their receipt is being processed. A subsequent message contains a hyperlink, allowing customers to click and view their receipt conveniently.Valeriya Thores, Autonomous E-Commerce Director at Astra Tech said: "We are thrilled to introduce the first-ever B Store and redefine the future of retail. This innovative integration of facial recognition technology revolutionizes the way we shop and showcases our commitment to providing unparalleled convenience and security. Step into the future of retail with B Store, where your face becomes your ultimate payment method. Our vision has always been to simplify the everyday for our customers, and this is another step in that direction."The Ultra app is taking its offerings one step further by harnessing the power of AI and creating an autonomous store where customers can seamlessly complete transactions using the power of their faces. Driving the industry forward with its pioneering vision, Astra Tech is re-imaging the future and solidifying its leading position at the forefront of the regional technology sector.