We aim to make metaverse technology accessible to all: Shaffra’s Alfred Manasseh

“Our goal is to democratize metaverse creation, similar to how platforms like WordPress simplified website development. We plan to support the gaming ecosystem and leverage AI tools for various applications. Ultimately, we aim to make metaverse technology accessible to all users, including SMEs, and expand our reach beyond the MENA region,” says Alfred Manasseh, Co-Founder and Chief Metaverse & Operating Officer of Shaffra, the first company in the MENA region offering Metaverse-as-a-Service, enabling companies to have metaverse strategies and presence. Shaffra provides its technology to organisations to be able to build their own metaverses and to empower businesses in various verticals. In this exclusive interview with Adgully, Alfred Manasseh shares insights into the company's mission to democratize metaverse technology, its unique position in the MENA region, and its vision for the future of the metaverse. From pioneering metaverse-as-a-service to transforming industries, Shaffra is at the forefront of reshaping how we interact with the digital world. Excerpts:Can you provide an overall idea about Shaffra’s metaverse-as-service offering, and how it differentiates itself in the MENA region? How receptive is the MENA region when it comes to the adoption of metaverse?Initially when we were at the ideation phase of our startup, Shaffra, our project goals were completely different. We were about to launch a crypto exchange geared for businesses, and that's where the name Shaffra comes from. In colloquial Arabic here in the region, it means code or crypto.Now, when we initially set out to launch our project, our primary goal was to develop a unique business model that would harness global talent. To achieve this, we envisioned running our operations entirely in a virtual environment. However, as we delved into the available options for making our operations completely virtual, we couldn't find anything that fully met our expectations. It was at this point that we made a crucial decision: let's create our own solution. With three co-founders on board, one of whom boasts technical expertise gained from working at Nintendo and developing gaming engines, as well as experience in handling large web data applications, we embarked on building our virtual world or proof of concept (POC), whichever term you prefer. During this process, we recognized that the potential for growth in the metaverse within our region far exceeded that of the crypto exchange industry.Can you name some of your major clients in the region?When we started, we were fortunate to participate in a challenge in Abu Dhabi, which led to our first client, Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism. I can't disclose specific projects, but we're working on about three to four different initiatives for them, scheduled to launch in January 2024. These projects cover areas such as employee interactions, resident interactions, marketing, and tourism. Another client we're currently working with is Omantel in Oman, a telecom company. Their initial focus is on enhancing customer service experiences. We're also in discussions with various banks, telecom companies, and government departments, although I can't provide details at this time.What industries or sectors do you see benefiting the most from Shaffra's metaverse solutions and what specific challenges do they face that your technology aims to address?The primary sector we target is the service aspect of the metaverse. For instance, our work with Omantel transforms how telecom companies serve customers. This concept can extend to police departments, where residents interact with law enforcement, or banks, where customers engage and learn in novel ways. We aim to enhance digital experiences and interactions, making them more engaging and dynamic compared to traditional websites. As for challenges, adoption remains a hurdle, but by working closely with corporations and governments, we aim to create experiences that benefit both organisations and users. We believe the metaverse is the future of the Internet, offering enhanced access to information and efficient interactions.How does Shaffra leverage blockchain technology to ensure the security and integrity of virtual assets within the metaverse?While blockchain can be part of the metaverse, it's not a requirement. We can use blockchain to facilitate transactions and experiences, and we are blockchain-agnostic. However, direct integration with blockchain systems can limit metaverse adoption since not everyone is familiar with crypto wallets like MetaMask. We believe in blockchain's potential but acknowledge that it can currently hinder widespread metaverse adoption. We prioritize accessibility for all users, including those who may not be well-versed in blockchain technology.Could you share some success stories or case studies where Shaffra solutions have had a transformative impact on organisations in various verticals?Certainly, one of our ongoing projects is with a telecom company in Oman. By transitioning their physical branches to virtual ones, we aim to save them significant overhead costs. Additionally, we're implementing AI-driven customer service tools, making the customer service journey seamless and efficient. We can integrate with various tools and APIs to personalize interactions based on customer data. This approach not only reduces costs but also boosts customer satisfaction and loyalty.What trends do you foresee in the adoption and development of metaverse technology in the MENA region and globally?We believe the metaverse is the next evolution of the Internet. Just as websites evolved from static pages to dynamic platforms, the metaverse will transform how we interact with digital content. With remote work, accessibility, and changing social behaviours, the metaverse is poised to become integral to our lives. As technologies like VR, AR, and AI continue to advance, the metaverse will offer efficient and engaging digital experiences.How does Shaffra envision the future of metaverse interactions and experiences? And what role do you see your company playing in shaping this future?We anticipate multiple metaverses coexisting rather than a single dominant one. Companies and organisations will build their own metaverse experiences. Standardization in protocols, 3D standards, and AI will guide metaverse development. Shaffra aims to make this technology accessible, initially to large corporations and governments, and eventually to SMEs and the general population. We see ourselves as pioneers in shaping the metaverse's backbone and infrastructure, creating a framework for widespread adoption.Some say that the metaverse was hyped beyond its actual worth, leading to skepticism about its long-term viability. What is your perspective on this criticism, and where do you see the metaverse heading in the future?Hype often surrounds new technologies, but early applications may not fully reveal their potential. Similar skepticism existed during the early days of websites. Over time, the metaverse will evolve and become an integral part of our digital lives. With younger generations growing up in virtual environments, their expectations for engagement and interaction differ from static websites. The metaverse represents a natural progression of the Internet and social behaviours, and we believe it is here to stay.What is your vision for Shaffra, and where do you see yourself two years from now? Please elaborate on your expansion plans in the days ahead?Our vision involves a multi-phased roadmap. In the initial phases, we focus on onboarding large corporations and governments in the MENA region. We aim to create an ecosystem around these clients and simplify the journey for SMEs to join and create their own metaverse experiences. Our goal is to democratize metaverse creation, similar to how platforms like WordPress simplified website development. We plan to support the gaming ecosystem and leverage AI tools for various applications. Ultimately, we aim to make metaverse technology accessible to all users, including SMEs, and expand our reach beyond the MENA region. We envision a future where Shaffra plays a pivotal role in shaping metaverse development and adoption.

AW Rostamani Group becomes official Royal Enfield distributor in UAE

Royal Enfield, global leader in the midsize motorcycle segment (250cc - 750cc), today announced plans to further strengthen its presence in the Middle East and Africa region with the appointment of AW Rostamani Group as its official distribution partner for the UAE region. With the newly formed alliance Royal Enfield will further widen its presence in the UAE. AW Rostamani Group today inaugurated its first Royal Enfield store at Umm Suqeim St. Dubai.Speaking about the partnership with AW Rostamani Group, Yadvinder Singh Guleria, CCO of Royal Enfield, said, “We have been focused on growing the midsize motorcycle segment in the middle eastern markets for almost a decade now. In a bid to extend the Royal Enfield pure motorcycling experience to the riding community in UAE, we are excited about our strategic partnership with AW Rostamani who bring a wealth of experience and a strong presence in the market. With this new alliance, customers in the UAE can look forward to easier access to our wide portfolio of exciting motorcycles. This collaboration represents a significant step in our growth strategy, and we are excited about the opportunities it will bring to our valued customers.”Located in Umm Suqeim St. Dubai, the newly inaugurated store will have iconic Royal Enfield motorcycles including the Super Meteor 650, Hunter 350, Scram 411, Classic, Meteor, Interceptor, Continental GT, and the Himalayan. The store will also have the complete range of Royal Enfield apparel and accessories. A dedicated service centre has also been set up for Royal Enfield customers in Al Quoz to ensure that customers receive seamless after sales service experience. To cater to the evolving demands of the riding community in the region, the company plans to set up additional branches in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi in the coming months.Michel Ayat, CEO of AW Rostamani Automotive, said: “We were pleased to forge a partnership with Royal Enfield, a venerable motorcycle manufacturer with an illustrious legacy. The demand for bikes in the UAE is on a steady rise, and we remain steadfast in our belief that this alliance profoundly caters to and elevates the aspirations of the burgeoning community of motorcycle enthusiasts nationwide.”Demand for Royal Enfield motorcycles across the UAE region continues to rise as the brand establishes itself as global leader in the midsize motorcycle sector (250cc-750cc), exponential growth in Royal Enfield’s International markets has seen production increase to 832,179 motorcycles in FY 2023 and registered motorcycle sales at 834,895 units (standalone), up by 38.4% from 602,268 (standalone) in FY 22.Delivering the brand philosophy of ‘Pure Motorcycling’ in every aspect of ownership experience, Royal Enfield’s showroom in the city intends to create a robust ecosystem comprising of highly differentiated retail experience, aftermarket capabilities, rides and community events and other adjacencies that bring to life the heritage and world of Royal Enfield.

Truecaller Reveals New Brand Identity and Enhanced AI Fraud Prevention Features

Truecaller today announced a corporate rebranding and launch of a brand new app icon that will be instantly recognisable on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. The timing of the new brand identity aligns with a significant transformation taking place in the digital space. At the heart of this rebranding is Truecaller’s renewed sense of purpose, energy, and enthusiasm.Commenting on the announcement, Alan Mamedi, Co-founder and CEO, Truecaller said, “We are excited to unveil our new brand identity and logo. It signifies our continued commitment to our users and our focus to constantly evolve and improve, every day.”“Our mission, to protect communication for all, is what guides us to develop new anti-fraud solutions like Search Context and engineer improvements to improve user privacy. ”He added.As part of this refreshed identity, Truecaller users also get a powerful new anti-fraud feature called Search Context, as a part of the Truecaller AI Identity engine. While looking at the search results for any number, Truecaller users will be instantly notified if the name for the number has been recently changed or is being changed frequently. The app also classifies this contextual message into three colour categories: blue, for a neutral change, yellow, which could be potentially suspicious if the name has changed more than 3 times in the past 7 days and finally red, indicating multiple and frequent name changes which are highly indicative of fraudulent and scammer activity. This message will be shown to all Truecaller users on all search results across Android, iPhone and Truecaller web.Truecaller introduces new Anti Fraud Feature – Search ContextThe new branding identity is orchestrated by leading global brand consultancy, Interbrand and it will be rolled out in Egypt over the coming weeks. To see the new app icon and changes, users need to update to app version 13.34 or newer on Android and version 12.58 or newer on iOS. Editor’s note: Over the past 14 years, Truecaller has cemented its status as the market leader in call identification solutions. There is a global community of trust that enriches communication for a staggering 356 million users across the globe. This growth reflects the increasing recognition of Truecaller’s initiatives and hardwork in addressing the most pressing issues when it comes to proliferation in global scam and frauds of all kinds.

Prince relaunches in the UAE with Leader Sport partnership

Prince, a global racquet sports and lifestyle brand, today announced its return to the UAE market through a strategic partnership with Leader Sport, the leading sports distributor across the Middle East and North Africa region. Leader Sport will distribute, and manufacture Prince branded products throughout 15 countries across MENA. The partnership marks a significant milestone for Prince as it seeks to establish its presence and deliver premium products to racquet sport enthusiasts in the UAE. As part of its re-entry into the market, Prince is launching an assortment of products, including racquets for Tennis, Padel, Squash and Badminton, as well as Court performance products and accessories. These products will be made available at select Leader Stores, and Healthy Sport locations across the UAE. The new Prince collection caters to the growing demand for racquet sports equipment in the UAE, providing athletes and enthusiasts with top-of-the-line products designed to elevate their performance on the court. Racquet sports are amongst the fastest-growing sports in the world and the UAE continues to invest in state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure to promote the sport, boasting numerous world-class courts that host prestigious international tournaments like the Dubai Tennis Championships and World Super Series. In addition to the collection, Prince has signed an exclusive sponsorship agreement with leading tennis and padel club in the UAE , Hubb Sports Club at Dubai Silicon Oasis.

Toby’s Estate Unveils MENA Region’s 1st Fully Digital Contactless Coffee Shop

Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters, a specialty coffee concept from Australia that is operated by the Pinnacle Group in the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC), announced the inauguration of its first fully digitized and contactless coffee shop, making it the first such specialty coffee shop in the Middle East and North Africa region.Located where Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters first started in the GCC in 2016, specifically in the Mubarak Al Kabeer Street in the Sharq area of Kuwait City, the contactless shop enables flexible customization whereby customers easily choose their preferred coffee drink, add-ons and food items, while baristas work behind the scenes to prepare the order, ensuring the brand’s commitment to exceptional quality before delivering through a dedicated window a few moments later. Customers can place their orders through the newly launched Toby’s Estate mobile app which allows them to conveniently pre-order and pick up from their order at the contactless shop or any closest Toby’s Estate location, or by simply using the virtual screen at the contactless shop.Speaking of the new concept, Tareq Alshaikh, Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle Group, said: “Today, we’re digitizing the coffee experience as part of our commitment to making your highest quality, made-to-order coffee convenient, all thanks to our proprietary mobile app and the strategically located contactless shop at the intersection of the financial district. Thousands of employees working nearby can now enjoy their coffee break on a typical fast-paced day. We look forward to expanding this new concept within Kuwait and the GCC as well.“Toby’s Estate has, without a doubt, become synonymous with an authentic specialty coffee experience with a unique design flair in the GCC area. Offering something to suit every taste bud while providing a holistic quality experience: from bean sourcing, packaging and shipping to the cup and beyond.”The shop was redesigned to complement the purpose of the new service model and with the architectural design that Toby’s Estate has come to be known for. The brand’s architectural style features a harmonious and cohesive aesthetic, using natural materials in neutral colors, while incorporating greenery and specific touches that speak to the local community and culture. In addition to a fast, contactless service, customers can also enjoy their coffee outdoors during the cooler months.Since the Kuwait-based Pinnacle Group signed the franchise agreement with Toby’s Estate, the Group has opened 12 locations in Kuwait in addition to operating two cloud kitchens and a coffee truck for catering, and has expanded its reach to two other shops in Dubai, two in Saudi Arabia and one in Qatar.Founded by three visionary entrepreneurs hailing from Kuwait, the Group maintains the same forward-thinking vision in growing the brand by staying true to its commitment to product excellence, ethical sourcing, and operational finesse. The brand believes in its responsibility to ensure that its trade has a positive impact on everyone involved, from the producer to the customer.Toby’s Estate makes available its selection of specialty coffee, brewing equipment, merchandise and more, for customers to shop and enjoy the unique flavors and ambiance of the brand in the comfort of their own homes.??????

BackLite Media and Place Exchange Collaborate for Programmatic OOH Advancements

BackLite Media, the leading digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising company in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has announced a partnership with Place Exchange, the leading SSP for programmatic out-of-home (OOH) media, to accelerate the programmatic transformation of DOOH in the UAE and increase opportunities for DOOH to be included in omnichannel marketing strategies.BackLite Media offers premium DOOH media opportunities across a diverse array of settings in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, ranging from bustling highways like Sheikh Zayed Road to upscale malls and destinations. This expansive coverage across the UAE ensures that BackLite Media effectively reaches individuals throughout their daily journeys and at key destinations. The integration with Place Exchange enables advertisers to seamlessly tap into this extensive inventory through their DSPs with a variety of programmatic buying options, including open auction, programmatic guaranteed and private marketplace deals.Sean Gadsby, Head of Programmatic at BackLite Media, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership with Place Exchange, highlighting the potential to unlock new revenue streams and attract interest from global buyers. "Place Exchange is a prominent name in the industry, and we're eagerly anticipating the prospects this partnership brings on a global level. The collaboration with Place Exchange will empower our clients with unparalleled programmatic capabilities and a seamless workflow to incorporate BackLite Media in omnichannel purchases."“There is growing demand by local and global advertisers for DOOH inventory in this market,” said Nick Bennett, SVP of Partnerships at Place Exchange. “Through this integration with BackLite Media, they can now deliver high-impact OOH messaging to audiences throughout the UAE with scale, automation, and flexibility like never before.”The BackLite Media and Place Exchange integration heralds a new chapter in programmatic OOH media evolution in the UAE. This collaboration will enable advertisers to seamlessly leverage BackLite Media's comprehensive DOOH inventory while capitalizing on the benefits of programmatic buying and streamlined workflow integration. As the partnership gains momentum, it stands poised to contribute to the continued evolution of programmatic advertising in the UAE market.

AVEVA announces two new non-executive directors to join its board

AVEVA, a global leader in industrial software, today announced the appointment of two new non-executive directors to its board this September. The appointments come as the company further strengthens its focus on the transition to Software-as-a- Service (SaaS) and expands in key markets including the US and China.Dr. Yanbing Li is a global business and technology leader with extensive experience building market leading products and hyper-growth businesses of over US$1 billion. Deeply rooted in technology and engineering, she has led large-scale?international business operations. She brings expertise in cloud commerce and enterprise software, and the evolving digital SaaS marketplace.Carl Bass is a former president and chief executive officer of industrial design software company Autodesk. He was credited with expanding Autodesk beyond its core software offerings through acquisitions and new product developments, leading the transition from 2D to 3D model-based design. Carl is co-founder of Flying Moose, Ithaca Software and buzzsaw.Caspar Herzberg, CEO of AVEVA, said: “We are delighted that Yanbing Li and Carl Bass have joined AVEVA’s board. It is a critical point in our commercial and software evolution, and their expertise and insight will be vital to us as we plan our strategy. I look forward to working with them as we continue to pioneer software that enables industry to be at the forefront of digital innovation.”AVEVA Chairperson Peter Herweck added: “The expansion of AVEVA’s board to include Yanbing Li and Carl Bass is an important step as we accelerate AVEVA’s SaaS strategy and drive deeper into high growth markets. Alongside our existing strong expertise and experience on the board, they bring expertise in engineering and design software, and seasoned experience of operating in global markets, particularly in Asia. I look forward to collaborating with them both to realize AVEVA’s next decade of growth.”AVEVA’s strategic focus is on becoming the number one SaaS provider of industrial intelligence. The company is currently evolving into a subscription-led business model.Since its foundation, AVEVA has grown from a niche design software developer to a leading global industrial software company. Today, AVEVA’s software drives efficiency and reduces costs for over 20,000 customers worldwide, including providing an end-to-end Digital Twin that spans the asset lifecycle from Engineering through to Operations and Maintenance across diverse industries worldwide.

Leo Burnett wins PUMA account for the Middle East

Leo Burnett MEA, a leading advertising agency under Publicis Groupehas been appointed the ‘Power of One’ Lead Agency for PUMA, one of the world’s leading sports brands, covering Creative, Media Buying & Planning and PR.The ‘Power of One’ is an approach which consolidates the capabilities of the Groupe into a seamlessoffering. Through this model, Leo Burnett will draw upon the expertise and talent of the Groupe toprovide an integrated marketing solution for PUMA. This includes market strategy, creativecommunications, media campaigns, brand and product positioning and PR.Commenting on the partnership, Nathalie Gevresse, CEO of Publicis Communications UAE said, “Weresonate strongly with PUMA’s values of performance and innovation, so we’re thrilled to partnerwith a brand we can push the boundaries with. Fuelled by the ‘power of one’, we will look to furtherelevate and expand the PUMA brand across the region through disruptive creativity, impactfulconsumer engagements and media that scales.”“Leo Burnett’s proven track record and deep understanding of this market make them the idealagency partner of choice to help us amplify the PUMA brand and help us better connect with ourconsumers. Their unique ‘Power of One’ proposition will allow us to leverage the best of data,creativity and tech to deliver impactful campaigns and further strengthen our position as a leader inthe sports industry,” said Murat Dulge, Head of Marketing, PUMA Middle East.Leo Burnett was appointed Agency of Record after a competitive pitch process involving multipleagencies. The agency’s robust creative approach and strategic thinking earned them theappointment.

IFS appoints Hoda Mansour as Chief Operating Officer of APJ, ME&A

IFS, the global cloud enterprise software company has announced the appointment of Hoda Mansour as the Chief Operating Officer for Asia Pacific, Japan, Middle East & Africa (APJ, ME&A). This appointment is evidence that the company’s consistent performance, industry accolades and ambitious regional growth plans is attracting highly experienced and seasoned talent to build on the exceptional results of the first half of 2023.Commenting on her new appointment, Hoda Mansour, Chief Operating Officer, APJ, ME&A at IFS, said, “I am excited to join IFS at such an important time in its growth trajectory and bring my experience to the team. IFS is a leader in the industry, with a unique customer focus and truly differentiated market position. I am delighted to be on board and looking forward to working with our customers and partners.”   Vincent Carvalho, Regional President, APJ, ME&A, IFS commented: “IFS has experienced phenomenal growth and as we continue our trajectory in the region, I am pleased to welcome Hoda to the organization as Chief Operating Officer.” Carvalho continued, “Hoda’s proven track record of leading business transformation and growth, developing world-class teams, and delivering business value to customers will enable us to accelerate towards our goals.”Prior to joining IFS, Hoda worked for leading multinational software companies including SAP, Oracle & Microsoft in regional and global capacities, most recently leading SAP’s Business Process Transformation Practice across Southern Europe, Middle East & Africa.Hoda’s leadership and impact has been acknowledged by Forbes Middle East, recognizing her as one of the 100 Most Powerful Businesswomen in 2023. This came on the back of her recognition by Forbes Middle East as one of Top 5 Women in Technology for 2022 and being on the Forbes Middle East Most Powerful Businesswomen list since 2018. Additionally, in March 2023, she was appointed as Non-Executive Board Member of Commercial International Bank (CIB), was selected to Chair CIB’s Board Sustainability Committee and is a Member of the Operations & Technology Board Committee. She is a member of the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce since June 2021 and served as Vice President & Board Member of the German Chamber between September 2020 and September 2022.

Aseel Al-Hammad joins Panel of Judges in Women’s World Car of the Year

The Women’s World Car of the Year has welcomed Aseel Al-Hamad to its global panel of judges. Aseel serves as Saudi Arabia’s representative at the FIA Women in Motorsports Commission and is a board member at the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation.The award distinguishes itself as the sole global car awards programme that highlights the role of women in the world of car and chooses the best cars of the year. Founded by New Zealand motoring journalist Sandy Myhre in 2019, the award exclusively consists of female motoring journalists. With Al-Hamad’s recent inclusion, the panel now boasts 74 judges from 50 nations.On her appointment, Al-Hamad said: “I am incredibly proud of my new role supporting Women’s World Car of the Year, as we are aligned in our mission to enhance female empowerment in the automotive and motorsport industry. This has traditionally been perceived as a male dominant world, and through our work, we are dedicated to correct the balance.”As a prominent figure in the industry, she regularly addresses and guides the Saudi workforce, and frequently appears in the media to advocate for women’s empowerment, serving as an inspiring symbol of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 for leadership and constructive transformation. Al-Hamad is also a strong supporter of motorsports. She acquired the skill of driving in Dubai long before women were permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia. Her journey in racing began as early as 2000 when she tested her abilities in amateur competitions, establishing herself as a notable female figure in the automotive world.

Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed launches new vision & strategy for Abu Dhabi Media

His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, has launched the new vision and strategy for Abu Dhabi Media Network, during a launch ceremony held today at Abu Dhabi National Theatre.During the event, His Highness endorsed a detailed overview of the new vision and strategy, which focuses on key public service pillars aimed at elevating the public media landscape, developing engaging educational and informative content tailored to all segments of the community, and accelerating the growth of the knowledge economy across all broadcast, digital and print media platforms.The event was also attended by HH Sheikh Zayed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the National Media Office.The new media network will operate on a set of strategic pillars, which will further enhance impactful media content that reflects the Emirati identity and highlights the country’s progress, achievements and development across vital sectors, in order to further strengthen its regional and international position.The strategy involves the launch of Aletihad News Centre, which will operate as a unified media centre across the organisation’s various news platforms to provide professional and accurate coverage of local, regional and global developments in different languages. It will also enable specialised round the clock news bulletins across finance, business, economic affairs, sports and more, in line with best practices in media reporting.Under the strategy, Aletihad newspaper, which carries a new look and feel, will now be published in both Arabic and English, featuring news reporting in line with the highest international media standards.Additionally, the strategy involves the development of a diverse array of media content that reflects the aspirations of the UAE community through the organisation’s affiliated channels and media outlets.The new strategy also focuses on themes related to women and families, through content for Zahrat Al Khaleej magazine in both Arabic and English, to highlight the journeys of successful women in the UAE and Arab world, as well as their personal, social and national achievements.The strategy emphasises the importance of producing rich, diverse and impactful children’s content, in both Arabic and English, for Majid magazine and Majid Kids TV. Based on Emirati values, the content will aim to heighten curiosity for learning, exploration, and research, and cultivate an interest in science among children through interactive games and smartphone applications.In line with plans to distribute enhanced content across the network’s broadcast digital and social platforms, the new strategy will also modernise the radio network by broadcasting a diverse range of programming across six pillars – news, sports, Emirati affairs, entertainment, education and knowledge, and children – in Arabic, English, and Hindi.His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan affirmed the importance placed by UAE leadership on the media sector, underlining the active role it has played in supporting the country’s progress and prosperity over the last 50 years.His Highness added that the launch of the new Abu Dhabi Media Network reflects this vision, highlighting that the planned upskilling of national talent will encourage the building of a comprehensive and integrated national media ecosystem that will play a fundamental role in the country’s progress, in alignment with long-term strategic goals, national priorities and sustainable development trends.His Highness also highlighted the media sector’s vital role in enhancing community awareness, emphasising the importance of establishing a strong and creative foundation for the future, while keeping pace with the latest technological advancements, including artificial intelligence, in the media sector. He also highlighted the importance of investing in highly skilled and inspirational Emirati media professionals to lead the media sector towards further growth.His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, explained how Abu Dhabi Media Network’s evolution represents a significant step towards strengthening the national media landscape and the key role it will play in highlighting the UAE's achievements and ambitions.His Highness highlighted how the significance of delivering content that accurately portrays the uniqueness of Emirati society and its rich cultural and social heritage underscores the ongoing development of national media entities and the need to keep abreast of technological progress in a rapidly developing media sector. His Highness wished the team at Abu Dhabi Media Network success in their endeavours to support the development of an advanced and integrated national media sector.The transformation of Abu Dhabi Media Network, which reports to Abu Dhabi Media Office, aims to accelerate the development of a national media ecosystem, in line with strategic national interests, and keep pace with the rapid development of the global media sector. It focuses on effective engagement with local, regional, and international audiences by creating diverse media content that reflects the values and heritage of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. It also aims to serve the aspirations of all segments of society, while promoting the values of coexistence and social cohesion, ensuring positive and effective public interaction and engagement.The new network will employ state-of-the-art infrastructure and cutting-edge technology, in line with the highest global standards, delivering diverse educational, informative, and entertainment programming for various age groups, as well as media content and news programming for non-Arabic speakers.Attended by several members of the ruling family, as well as sheikhs and senior federal and emirate-level government officials, the launch event highlighted the history of Abu Dhabi Media Company since its founding in 1969, including the launch of Abu Dhabi Radio, the first black and white broadcast on Abu Dhabi TV, and the first issue of Al Ittihad newspaper, in addition to the first colour broadcast, and other major milestones.

Fuze raises $14mln largest Seed round for digital assets start-up in Middle East

Fuze has unveiled a record-breaking Seed round of $14mn, the largest Seed investment in a digital assets startup in the history of the Middle East and North Africa. Fuze enables banks, fintechs or enterprises to offer regulated digital assets products to customers through native apps.Investment was led by Abu Dhabi-based Further Ventures, with participation by US-based Liberty City Ventures. Fuze will benefit from their strategic capital and network as it builds digital asset infrastructure that will drive the future of finance.Fuze was founded by fintech, traditional and decentralized finance leaders, with its co-founders holding extensive experience in global businesses: CEO, Mohammed Ali Yusuf (Mo Ali Yusuf) held prominent roles at and Visa; Arpit Mehta (COO) led teams at fintechs Simpl and Clear; Srijan Shetty (CTO) built algorithmic trading systems at Goldman Sachs and worked at Microsoft.With a regional digital asset market worth $566bn, growing at 48% YoY, Fuze CEO Mohammed Ali Yusuf believes the Middle East is perfect for a digital assets infrastructure business, "We are excited to build the future of regulated financial infrastructure and digital assets out of the UAE. Regulations have played a pivotal role in propelling the UAE into a central position within the global Digital Assets industry. To receive the backing of Abu Dhabi-headquartered Further Ventures combined with the deep expertise of US-based Liberty City Ventures, confirms the relevancy and potential of Fuze's mission to rapidly expand our cutting-edge infrastructure across the region."Further Ventures commented, "This is an important strategic investment into digital assets, one of our core verticals. The team at Fuze is highly experienced and has a clear vision to develop a trusted, world-class digital assets proposition. Technology that enables a range of stakeholders is vital for the future of the financial ecosystem and Fuze is well placed to be a leader in digital assets across the MENA region and beyond."Fuze was founded in December 2022 and this year joined Hub71, Abu Dhabi's global tech ecosystem. Its white-label solutions handle complexities of blockchain and regulatory overheads for enterprises, enabling organizations to readily offer digital assets such as stablecoins, cryptocurrencies, CBDCs and tokenized assets.

Rixos Bab Al Bahr welcomes new Sales Director: Ms. Dilara Atay

Rixos Bab Al Bahr, the distinguished family beach resort on Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah, is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Dilara Atay as their new Sales Director. With an impressive career spanning over 13 years in hospitality across the UAE and Azerbaijan, Ms. Atay brings to the Rixos Bab Al Bahr team a reservoir of expertise, strategic wisdom, and dynamic leadership talents.As Sales Director at Rixos Bab Al Bahr, Ms Atay will be at the helm of the resort's sales endeavours. Her mandate extends to the planning and execution of innovative business strategies, with the overarching goal of driving growth, amplifying revenue streams and securing new markets.Her immediate priorities encompass a comprehensive analysis of market segments to formulate and implement sales strategies that will maximise revenues and lead to a broader customer base and heightened engagement. With an unwavering focus on attracting new business, she aims to position Rixos Bab Al Bahr as the standout property in a highly competitive hospitality realm. Ms. Atay's strategic prowess will further be leveraged to ensure the hotel's consistent performance above budgeted goals.Ahmed Elnawawy, General Manager at Rixos Bab Al Bahr, commented, "We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Dilara Atay as our newly appointed Sales Director. Her exceptional track record in the hospitality industry renders her an invaluable asset to Rixos Bab Al Bahr. Ms. Atay's unique amalgamation of skills and experience will undoubtedly elevate the resort's standing in the market."Before her role as Sales Director, Ms Atay demonstrated exemplary leadership as the Complex Director of Sales for Le Meridien Hotel Dubai at Marriott International, steering numerous successful initiatives. Her dynamic career journey also includes her Cluster Director of Sales role at ABSHERON Hotel Group, where her proactive management strategies consistently maintained high customer satisfaction ratings.This appointment marks a significant leap for Rixos Bab Al Bahr, leveraging Ms. Atay's well-established industry prowess, unwavering dedication to excellence, and visionary perspective for the resort's future. Ms. Atay's journey through various sales and marketing roles, spanning the UAE and beyond, echoes a vibrant profile consistently yielding customer-centric outcomes. Given the remarkable boom in Ras Al Khaimah's tourism sector in recent years, her appointment is timely and strategic.With her expansive involvement in the hospitality domain, and successful international ventures, Ms Atay stands as a virtuous spearhead at Rixos Bab Al Bahr.

Wunderman Thompson takes AI help to evaluate emotional responses to ads

Wunderman Thompson has developed a technology that enables the analysis of consumers' emotional responses to advertisements. This technology also identifies the specific elements within a video that capture their attention. This valuable insight allows clients to make adjustments to their advertising campaigns in order to achieve the desired emotional response from their audience.Reveal, the new technology, combines traditional creative testing techniques with proprietary and licensed technology. Clients select a group of consumers, provided by panel providers, which match their target audience. This panel will then opt to have their faces recorded “for a couple of minutes” as they watch the client’s video ad — similar to how ‘measurement providers measure audience attention levels’. Wunderman Thompson’s machine learning model then analyses the recording for seven micro expressions: anger, disgust, fear, happy, neutral, sad and surprise. The agency has also licensed technology that tracks consumers’ eyes as they focus on specific objects within a video.Face tracking is combined with feedback from a consumer survey. This process can take a weak; after the analysis, the video recordings are deleted.It took about eight months to create the tool. The company decided to develop a proprietary emotions detection model because existing models, such as those within Google’s Cloud Vision API, were limited to macro expressions.Lucile Ripa, Head, Analytics and Data Science, Wunderman Thompson, said: “Our promise is that we are faster and quicker [than other creative testing] because we’ve got all this automation, so it will not take months and months to build a big report full of KPIs, we want to be much more agile and dynamic to be able to test our clients’ creative at multiple points — not only when it’s completely final.”The agency believes this will result in more effective ads as well as a better consumer experience.David Lloyd, EMEA Managing Director, Wunderman Thompson-Data shares: “Essentially, we’re just trying to measure positive emotions so that ultimately we get more positive emotions from consumers seeing the ads.”According to Wunderman Thompson, it has lined up trials of the solution with some of its “major” clients, including one in travel and leisure, over the coming weeks and months.Lloyd added: “We know we’re not going to be able to compete with the likes of Google and Microsoft in terms of their investment in data science and technology. So we have a lot of focus around what we do and what we don’t do.”

Alif expands into the UAE with the launch of Alif Pay

Central Asian fintech leader, Alif, makes its mark in the UAE with Alif Pay, providing financial services and global remittance for UAE residents. Renowned digital transformation expert, Shafique Ibrahim, takes on the role as Alif Pay's CEO, spearheading the launch and reinforcing the platform's innovative approach to financial solutions.Alif Pay will be launching a series of market leading financial services, leveraging next generation technology to serve the bespoke needs of UAE residents. These include Send Now Pay Later (SNPL), a Payroll platform, Travel prepaid program, Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) and the Fly Now, Pay Later (FNPL) services . According to the World Bank, outward remittances from the UAE totalled $47.54 billion in 2021, and is projected to rise. Having the right digital platforms in place to facilitate these growing financial flows in the UAE is vital. Alif Pay is on a mission to achieve this, using the broader experience of Alif to deliver tailored financial solutions. Leading the operations of Alif Pay, Shafique Ibrahim is a digital transformation and payment leader with 22 years of payment industry experience in C-level positions in the Middle East. Prior to being appointed CEO at Alif Pay, he has spearheaded fintech and payment advancement projects including cross-border remittances, multi-currency Prepaid program, Wallet and Mobile payments, Blockchain and process automation. Shafique was also responsible for the digital transformation at one of the largest money remittance and payment organisations in the region.Alif Pay is the latest in an ongoing expansion of products and services offered by Alif. Also operating as a fully licensed bank in Tajikistan and an e-commerce and fintech company in Uzbekistan, Alif’s total number of users experienced a 72% annual increase, with the company posing 121% year-in-year growth in 2022. As of June 2023, Alif’s total users number 1.9 million. Alif also closed one of the largest fintech funding rounds in Central Asia, raising $8 million in equity and $50 million in debt, and receiving a company valuation of $100 million in 2021. Shafique Ibrahim, CEO of Alif Pay, commented on his appointment: “Alif Pay brings forth a groundbreaking vision for innovative payment services, granting customers swift and economical financial solutions. The UAE stands poised for transformative change, with the fintech revolution in payment services reshaping traditional paradigms. “I'm proud to be associated with Alif, a company that upholds integrity, ethics, and noble values in its relationships with customers, partners, and employees. I'm eager to extend these principles and establish Alif Pay as a premier Fintech force in the UAE.Zuhursho Rahmatulloev, co-founder of Alif, commented: “Alif has become a leading global voice in Islamic fintech and ethical banking, backed by our record-breaking growth milestones and rapid market expansions. The launch of Alif Pay in UAE is a continuation of our success story, and reflects our mission of promoting noble and ethical fintech solutions in new countries and regions. We are proud to have Shafique Ibrahim aboard as he leads Alif Pay into what is set to be a defining period for the UAE payments market.”

Dubai Business Forum will explore the future of global economy

Dubai Chambers is preparing to welcome heads of state, government officials, senior business leaders, and global investors to shape the future of business at the inaugural edition of the Dubai Business Forum. The eagerly anticipated event will take place at the city’s Madinat Jumeirah from 1-2 November under the theme ‘Shifting Economic Power: Dubai and the Future of Global Trade.’Hosted under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the forum will bring together key stakeholders from the government and private sectors across the globe to explore strategic economic partnerships, develop international networks, and open new horizons for business, trade, and investments.Previously known as the Global Business Forum, the Dubai Business Forum is set to play an instrumental role in achieving the objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33). Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President and CEO of Dubai Chambers, commented: “Shaping the future of the business landscape requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders as we strive to enhance the emirate’s competitiveness in line with the vision of the wise leadership. The Dubai Business Forum comes as part of our efforts to drive business and investment opportunities in the emirate and paves the way for companies to unlock the exciting opportunities created by Dubai’s ambitious economic agenda.”Lootah added: “The forum will bring together key stakeholders from around the world to engage in networking, explore partnerships, and forge significant deals. This landmark event is set to further strengthen Dubai’s reputation as a leading economic capital and empower the global business community to shape a more prosperous future. We look forward to hosting inspiring interactive discussions that will open new horizons for growth in business, trade, and investments.”Underlining Dubai’s growing position as a leading capital of the global economy, the forum will bring together key stakeholders in sectors including technology, retail, finance, travel, hospitality, real estate, and healthcare. The landmark event will feature insightful discussions and interactive sessions aimed at shaping the future of business.Dubai represents the ideal destination for hosting an event of this significance due to its strategic location as a gateway for international business and trade. The emirate is recognised as a leading centre for innovation and partnerships and serves as a bridge connecting continents that enhances global cooperation and drives sustainable economic growth.The Dubai Business Forum creates a dynamic platform for collaboration between key stakeholders that will accelerate the growth of trade and investments. The event is closely aligned with Dubai Chambers’ strategic priorities, which include attracting international companies and investments to the emirate, supporting the expansion of local companies in targeted global markets, and enhancing Dubai’s favourable business environment.The Dubai Business Forum will be held at Madinat Jumeirah from 1-2 November 2023. To register, please visit

Dentsu MENA partners with Abtaluna to support superheroes fighting cancer

 Dentsu has partnered with social enterprise Abtaluna (‘Our Superheroes’ in Arabic) – a family support and awareness group for children fighting or who have fought cancer in the Arab world. The pro-bono partnership involving creative and media agencies from across the dentsu network aims to raise awareness and challenge taboos around a disease that impacts 18,000 children every year in the Arab world, and supporting WHO’s goal of a 60% cancer survival rate by 2030.The campaign taps into the opportunity for children impacted by cancer to learn new skills and try new experiences, while calling on society for collective action to donate their time and skills to support children fighting cancer in the UAE. Combining a digital platform and activation on social with a custom AR Lens and influencer marketing to create social pledges from artists, musicians, chefs, authors, scientists, athletes and creatives to ‘Be the Hero they Need’.Tarek Daouk, CEO of dentsu MENA, says: “Cancer is one of the world’s deadliest diseases and a child is diagnosed with cancer every 80 seconds globally. In the region there are limited support networks to connect those fighting the disease and inadequate awareness of the signs and symptoms of childhood cancer. The work Abtaluna is doing, and the personal battle Lama and her son Super Sam have fought to achieve it, is inspirational. ‘Here to Matter’ is a brilliant example of creative collaboration across dentsu’s agency teams that we hope will inspire society to unite and take action to support this cause be by connecting caregivers with volunteers willing to donate their experience and time. We are delighted to partner with Abtaluna and deliver on our shared responsibility as a B2B2S company – using our talent, skills and time to deliver services that have a lasting impact on society.”  Lama Andari, Social Entrepreneur and Children’s Book Author says: “Abtaluna was created to support families and loved ones whose superhero children are fighting cancer or were lost to cancer. My inspiration has aways been my own 4-year-old son Super Sam, who was diagnosed with Leukemia in April 2021. On our journey – we could not find any platform in the Arab world that connects and supports parents of children who have been forced to deal with cancer in their lives, and the unprecedented challenges they face. Furthermore, we must normalize speaking about Childhood Cancer and that’s why I also wrote a children’s book called “Super Kids”. Early diagnosis can save lives and unfortunately the community is insufficiently aware of the signs and symptoms. The whole community has an important role to play in learning about Childhood Cancer and supporting our Super Kids. The ‘Here to Matter’ platform will go a long way to ensuring our superheroes are not alone in their battle. I am proud of the partnership forged between Abataluna and dentsu. I am extremely grateful to have their support in raising awareness so we can all educate ourselves, inform our friends and work within our communities to tackle the stigma around childhood cancer and fight it together.”The ’Here to Matter’ campaign launches on 22nd of September and supporters can register as a requestor or contributor on the Abtaluna website. You can also show your support this September by donating hair to create wigs for people impacted by cancer with a free haircut at any one of 42 salons across 3 Emirates, full list of participating salons available on Abtaluna’s website.  The campaign is part of dentsu’s ongoing commitment to use the power of media and advertising to drive delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Zilliqa Group relaunches metaverse venture as MetaMinds

Dubai: Zilliqa Group, an integrated group of businesses built to deliver vanguard Web3 and blockchain-based products and solutions, today relaunches its UAE-based metaverse venture under a new identity, MetaMinds. The rebrand follows a major restructuring of the business as it accelerates efforts to redefine the metaverse landscape.Spearheading the transformation is Sandra Helou, a recognized metaverse pioneer and prominent figure in Web3 development, who has been appointed CEO of MetaMinds. She also holds the position of GCC Lead for Zilliqa Group's newly established CEO Office, underscoring the Group’s conviction in the region’s growth potential.MetaMinds, previously known as Metapolis, was launched just over a year ago in Miami and is headquartered in the UAE. The rebrand represents a pivotal shift in the company's focus towards spatial web development as it endeavors to drive the evolution of the engaged Internet in a more meaningful manner. Zilliqa Group says the new identity also better represents the company's consultative approach to creating customized metaverse solutions for clients.Max Kantelia, Co-Founder, Zilliqa Group, explains: “We strongly believe in the potential of the metaverse, despite initial overhype and unmet expectations within the sector. The restructuring of MetaMinds aims to bridge the divide between technological capabilities and user demands, ensuring we remain at the forefront of metaverse innovation while co-creating impactful solutions that demonstrate the real-world utility of the metaverse as a spatial web platform.”As the world’s first Metaverse-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform provider, MetaMinds harnesses spatial web technologies to craft immersive metaverse experiences for clients, ushering in a new era of customer interaction and engagement. Its multi-tenant architecture enables diverse user groups to have personalized metaverse experiences while sharing the same platform infrastructure and product line.Engineered for scalability, platform interoperability and high performance, MetaMinds is addressing many of the bottlenecks in current metaverse development and is poised to become the standard on which other metaverses are built. It offers clients robust private proof-of-concept testing and the confidence that all users of the platform have been screened and verified. The company has also introduced a subscription-based business model to overcome current cost barriers, facilitating broader adoption.“It’s a mistake to think the metaverse is dead. Spatial web and Web3 technologies continue to develop at a rapid rate – IOT, AI, AR, VR, blockchain to name a few. What the metaverse enables is a blending of the physical and digital words. It introduces a new layer of interaction to the engaged Internet and necessitates new networks of people, places, things and rules. Our restructuring means we are doubling down on spatial web development when building out metaverse experiences and tapping into our collective intelligence and skillsets across the wider Zilliqa Group to work with clients on how best to transform their businesses with these technologies," said Helou.Currently, MetaMinds is in the beta testing phase for several metaverse projects across various sectors, including eSports, luxury, government, and healthcare, with imminent announcements planned.“Since relocating our headquarters to Dubai last year, we have witnessed a growing appetite for metaverse services across the region and are continuing to sign new projects in various sectors. The UAE is a forward-thinking nation and understands the transformative value the metaverse can bring to digital economies and smart cities. We’re excited to be part of the evolving spatial web ecosystem and play our part in charting its course,” added Helou.

Sustainable Broadband a priority for 92% of KSA respondents: Cisco Survey

The latest Cisco Broadband Survey1 – which included 2,000 respondents from Saudi Arabia – has found that evolving consumer expectations will reshape the needs and economics of the Internet.Consumers in Saudi Arabia are rethinking what they rely on the Internet for, balancing anticipated demands for speed and reliability, with the intensifying needs of rising eco-consciousness, and the consumerization of the Internet of Things (IoT) connecting our devices, from smart cars to home appliances. This has led to 91% of respondents in KSA to regard broadband as ‘critical national infrastructure’, like access to water and electricity – surpassing EMEA results.Sustainability: A Key Driver of Consumer Choices in KSAThe carbon-cost of broadband connectivity is a top priority for consumers. Cisco’s Broadband Survey revealed that 65% of consumers in Saudi Arabia are now concerned about the carbon footprint of their broadband, with young people aged 18-24 the most concerned (73%). In addition, 92% of overall respondents in the Kingdom would be willing to pay more for sustainable broadband, with around a quarter prepared to pay a price premium of more than 20%.“Our survey has confirmed that consumers in Saudi Arabia are increasingly aware of the carbon footprints of technology. This is in line with KSA efforts towards a more flourishing and sustainable society and a novel approach to promoting sustainability in the country,” said Salman Faqeeh, Managing Director, Cisco Saudi Arabia.He added: “In today’s world, it is becoming increasingly crucial for digital transformation to work in harmony with sustainability. At Cisco, we believe that the tech industry has a unique opportunity to lead the twin transition to a digital and green future. Hence, we focus on our own practices, including the use of renewable energy sources and circular economy, and build new energy-saving solutions, while setting near- and long-term, science-based targets to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, for all scopes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.”  Connection to Increase as Consumers Expand Their Digital LivesAs the number of IoT devices online grows from billions to trillions, so does the demand for bandwidth and processing power to analyze all of the data produced. According to the Cisco Broadband Survey, there is no sign of this slowing down.In Saudi Arabia, more than half of Internet users primarily go online to use social media (58%), stream videos and/or play video games (57%), and to browse, read, or shop (53%). Of those planning to upgrade their service in the next year, 44% will do so on the promise of even faster broadband.Consumers in the Kingdom are also beginning to embrace the shift toward a ‘smarter’ digital life. From smart lights (29%) to home appliances (30%), respondents in Saudi Arabia are increasingly syncing up a range of connected devices to run via their home Internet service, including more than half (54%) currently connecting their home entertainment devices.

Google Lens is coming to Bard in Arabic

Google launched today new features for Bard to make it more accessible and helpful in Arabic and other languages around the world. Arabic speaking users can now upload images with Google Lens, get Search images in responses, and modify Bard’s responses. Bard is powered by Google’s most capable language model yet, ‘PaLM2’, which has been further developed based on users’ feedback to become more intuitive, and respond with greater quality and accuracy in all languages. With the updated model, Bard is now making its existing English language features available to more than 40 new languages, as well as launching new capabilities in English, and soon to other languages. The list of features include: Use images in prompts: Bringing the capabilities of Google Lens, a Google’s product that recognizes and analyzes objects, texts & images, into Bard so people can use images in prompts  Modify responses: Changing the tone and style of Bard's responses to five options including simple, long, short, professional or casual Get images in responses: Bringing images from Google Search into Bard’s responses so people can benefit from relevant visualsContinue conversations with Bard: Building on others’ conversations with Bard, whether to ask Bard additional questions about the topic or use it as a starting point for new ideas. This feature is available if the user has a public link to another Bard chat Connect to Google apps & services: Launching Bard Extensions in English only, which connects Bard to Gmail, Docs, Drive, Maps, YouTube, Google Flights and Google Hotels, for a more helpful experience. By using Workspace extensions, content from such apps will not be seen or used by human reviewers or to train the model (available in English only)“We are delighted by the positive feedback we have received from Arabic speakers using Bard. We are committed to continuously improving Bard and bringing more capabilities to Arabic speakers in the future.” -- a quote generated by Bard. Bard is Google’s generative AI experiment, launched in English last March. Bard has then been expanded to 40+ languages including Arabic earlier in July. Bard is designed to enable people to use their creative potential by developing new ideas, learn about the world by exploring topics from different perspectives, and boost productivity by simplifying dense content.

StashAway and Lean technologies streamline investing through payments

StashAway, a leading regional investment platform, and Lean Technologies (Lean), the largest Open Banking platform in the Middle East, proudly announce a collaboration aimed at streamlining the investment process in the UAE. This partnership introduces the UAE’s first-ever open banking-powered solution that allows for recurring deposits, empowering people to stay committed to their investment goals regardless of market volatility.Investing consistently at regular intervals, a time-tested strategy known as dollar-cost averaging (DCA), can help investors navigate short-term volatility to achieve longer-term returns. By committing to a set schedule, investors can stay invested without having to worry about ‘timing the market’, enabling their investments to compound over time. Historical data illustrates the effectiveness of long-term investing: Over the last 40 years, the S&P 500 has grown 81x, representing returns of 11.5% per annum.However, implementing such a strategy in the UAE is often challenging due to a lack of digital infrastructure supporting automated investing. Traditionally, investors could only make recurring payments by either establishing a standing order with a limited number of banks – a process that is not only complex, but could even require a trip to a physical branch – or via debit cards, which would result in high fees on every transaction.“As an investor myself, I’ve experienced firsthand the frustrations of automating my investments through a bank. At StashAway, we believe that investing should be simple and stress-free – so we knew that we had to make a change,” said Joseph El Am, General Manager of StashAway MENA, “Collaborating with Lean Technologies to pioneer a brand-new feature for recurring deposits was the logical next step for us. We’re proud to be the first in the UAE to offer an innovative solution for dollar-cost averaging into the market, offering investors a hassle-free way to build wealth over the long term.”Through the integration of Lean into the StashAway app, StashAway clients can effortlessly establish a recurring deposit in just two minutes. Clients can seamlessly link their preferred bank account, specify the recurring amount, and set a deposit cadence – all without leaving the StashAway app.“At Lean Technologies, we thrive on pushing the boundaries of financial innovation. Teaming up with StashAway has allowed us to break new grounds in investment accessibility and financial inclusion. The FastTransfer payment feature represents a novel application of Lean's Payments API. It provides a one-of-a-kind user experience to Stashaway customers, simplifying a previously tedious process into just a few clicks. It has been a pleasure to work with the Stashaway team building a solution that positively impacts how individuals approach their financial well-being. We invite investors across the UAE to take charge of their financial future with speed, security, and convenience powered by Lean Technologies and StashAway," said Mehdi Tazi, Chief Operating Officer at Lean Technologies.Using the FastTransfer payment method, clients will benefit from swifter and secure transactions. Deposits of up to 25,000 AED will be reflected on the StashAway app within a few hours, while larger transfers may take slightly longer (up to 1.5 business days), depending on the respective banks’ transaction policies. Transactions via Lean are protected by bank-grade security measures, so clients are assured that their financial data will always be kept safe.Clients will also have the flexibility to adjust the deposit amount and frequency, as well as approve or skip individual transactions, empowering them to continuously fine-tune their financial plans in alignment with their life goals.As a result, investors can now effortlessly DCA into one of StashAway’s globally-diversified investment portfolios, or consistently allocate cash savings toStashAway SimpleTM, an ultra-low risk cash management solution offering a competitive projected rate of 4.5% p.a. (as of 18 September).

Publicis Groupe Middle East appoints Elie Milan as Chief Performance Officer

Publicis Groupe Middle East has appointed Elie Milan as Chief Performance Officer of Publicis Media for the Middle East. This is a newly created role as part of the Groupe’s objective to redefine and elevate its media performance offering and unify the hub under a single leadership. This announcement comes after the appointment of Tony Wazen as CEO of Publicis Media Middle East earlier this year.In the new role, Elie will be entrusted with enabling the Groupe’s media brands Digitas, Spark Foundry, Starcom and Zenith to accelerate and empower clients to thrive in a digital and data-lead economy across Performance, Search, Social, Programmatic, Commerce and Retail media, and equally for creating partnerships and solutions that drive scale for clients. "Bassel Kakish, CEO of Publicis Groupe Middle East & Turkey, said "I'm pleased to welcome Elie to the team; with Elie, we have appointed a known and lauded digital media expert. His track record in developing and transforming business verticals, paired with his ability to lead, will be of tremendous value in driving growth for us.”Elie first joined the Groupe in 2012 as Publicis Media's head of Social Performance and transformed the practice into a regional powerhouse. He was the head of commerce before transitioning into the global commerce team as VP of Product Development in 2020, leading the development of Publicis Groupe's ground-breaking digital shelf and retail intelligence platform, "Commerce Intelligence". He also played an instrumental role in integrating Commerce Intelligence into Profitero's suite of products following their acquisition by Publicis in 2022. Elie is currently the Global Growth Lead for Performance, driving new and organic business through performance innovation.  “I am excited to welcome Elie back to Publicis Media and feel confident in our partnership and collaboration with him to create a winning formula and cultivate the right community of adopters to deliver on our vision of modern performance. His regional and international expertise will lend great value to our clients and stakeholders”, said Tony Wazen, CEO of Publicis Media Middle East.  Commenting upon his appointment Elie Milan, Chief Performance Officer, Publicis Media Middle East, said, "It's an exciting new chapter for Performance at Publicis Groupe globally, and I'm thrilled to be part of the team spearheading this innovative vision in our region. With our team of highly talented performance specialists and our reinvented performance model, we are uniquely positioned to deliver exceptional results and drive significant business impact for our clients. This is a pivotal moment for us, and I can't wait to see the incredible milestones we will achieve together."

SICO appoints Maryam AlMohri as acting Chief Risk Officer

SICO BSC (c), a leading regional asset manager, broker, and investment bank (licensed as a wholesale bank by the CBB), announced today the appointment of Maryam AlMohri as Acting Chief Risk Officer. This step underscores SICO’s commitment to developing its human capital and appointing the best qualified talents in senior positions in order to achieve the bank’s growth goals.Maryam AlMohri brings a wealth of experience in risk management to her role as Acting Chief Risk Officer at SICO, specializing in asset management, treasury, brokerage and investment banking. Maryam’s journey with SICO began in 2017, and her most recent position before this appointment was Vice President of Risk Management. Prior to joining SICO, she held the position of Assistant Manager in ALM Reporting and Capital Management at Gulf International Bank.Maryam expressed her excitement in taking on the role of Acting Chief Risk Officer at SICO, stating, “I'm delighted to assume the role of Acting Chief Risk Officer at SICO during this exciting time of growth for the bank and the regional markets. Today's increasingly complex world of risks requires new strategies and solutions. My focus will be on further fostering a culture of risk management throughout the organization to support ongoing value creation and a more sustainable and successful business for our clients, investors, and employees.”Maryam holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and a first-class Master of Science (MSc) in Investment Banking & Islamic Finance from the University of Reading, United Kingdom. She also earned a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Finance and Investment Management from Northumbria University, United Kingdom. Additionally, she is a qualified Chartered Islamic Finance Professional (CIFP).

General Motors hosts gaming tournament driven by in-vehicle Wi-Fi

OnStar, General Motor’s pioneering connectivity and safety technology, hosted the region’s first gaming tournament, driven entirely by in-vehicle Wi-Fi in the UAE.Bringing together 10 of the Arab world’s top gamers, the travelling gaming tournament took place out of the backseat of Chevrolet and GMC connected vehicles. Spanning a total of 12 hours and covering 450 km of the UAE’s roads, all the way from the Liwa desert to Ras Al Khaimah via Dubai, the tournament saw a grueling series of head-to-head contests take place, across a lineup of some of the most popular games globally. Gameplay can be followed through a captivating video series of episodes, launched on the dedicated tournament webpage.The unique gaming tournament driven by OnStar’s connectivity enabled by etisalat by e& was designed to highlight the seamless connectivity of automotive technology through the lens of popular gaming culture. The gaming industry in the UAE has experienced a significant surge in recent years, establishing the nation as a thriving hub for gamers and game developers. Likewise, the appetite for in-vehicle Wi-Fi in the UAE has grown. In fact, the automotive connectivity market is currently valued at USD 33.42 Billion, projected to reach USD 190.29 Billion by 2033. By seamlessly blending the thrill of the gaming world with reliable and fast in-vehicle Wi-Fi, OnStar was able to show the power of advanced vehicle connectivity and communication technology through uninterrupted online gameplay.Commenting on the move, Shereen Harris, Head of Marketing & Subscriptions, OnStar Middle East, said: "Infotainment is one of the fastest growing aspects of the automotive industry, enabled by seamless connectivity and rich data flows. Whilst modern vehicles can already connect navigation and infotainment systems, a fully connected car can provide both convenience and elevated user experiences for its passengers, turning vehicles into agents of personal time, and really bringing to life the sense of living with a smartphone on wheels. Through Highway Hero, we are delighted to exemplify this and bring gaming enthusiasts together in a way never imagined before by the connectivity, convenience and safety of connected vehicles”.Esam Mahmoud, Senior Vice President - Small & Medium Business, etisalat by e& said: “We're delighted to have partnered with OnStar for the Highway Hero gaming tournament, providing a platform to demonstrate our expertise in seamless automotive connectivity. Leveraging our proficiency in mobility IoT and connected car solutions, we're transforming the automotive sector with advanced communication capabilities. This collaboration aligns with our commitment to shaping the future of technology and mobility while also driving the UAE’s connected ecosystem, which includes autonomous transportation.”

Emirates Scores with Beirut Basketball Club in a multi-year sponsorship

Beirut: Emirates has partnered with the Beirut Basketball Club as its Official Airline and jersey sponsor for the next three seasons. The deal underscores the airline’s long-standing commitment to supporting basketball in Lebanon, where the sport is hugely popular, and across the region, connecting with fanbases that cut across geographies and sharing their love for the game. To celebrate the partnership, Emirates and the Beirut Basketball Club tipped off their relationship with a special media event in a co-branded basketball court where the Club trains and plays its season games.Tamador Kouatly, Regional Manager Levant for Emirates Airline said: “As the Official Airline and jersey sponsor of the Beirut Basketball Club, Emirates solidifies its relationship and commitment to Lebanon and the passionate fans of the game. We look forward to what will be an exciting time for the team, as it heads abroad to play in a number of regional and international tournaments, as well as the start of its season, as they proudly wear their ‘Emirates Fly Better’ emblazoned jerseys. We also aim to jointly inspire young people at the club to realise their full potential and support their journey. Emirates has a long history of sponsoring basketball, starting with the UAE and Lebanese Basketball Associations and Clubs, and we’re ready to work side-by-side with the team and its players to help boost the sport of basketball in the region, and support grassroots activities to grow the prospects of young, talented athletes.”Nadim Hakim, Beirut Basketball Club President, said: “The Beirut Basketball Club is tremendously proud to have Emirates Airline, led by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, its Chairman and Chief Executive, as our main sponsor for the next three seasons. It is a great honour for a Lebanese club to partner with a global leader in sports like Emirates, and their support demonstrates our shared objective of positively impacting the communities we serve, and providing opportunities for talented youth to fulfil their potential.”As part of its agreement, Emirates will receive numerous sponsorship rights including the prominent placement of its signature ‘Emirates Fly Better’ logo on the player jerseys, digital and static court branding at all of the Men’s and Women’s matches, TV and broadcast exposure, digital and social media activation rights on the Club’s platforms, player access, as well as game ticket allocation for each match. The Club will participate in several local and regional leagues and tournaments, with the Men’s team playing in the Lebanese Basketball League, the Lebanese Cup, the Arab Championship, and the Dubai International Tournament. In 2022, The team clinched the Men’s Lebanese League Championship, and have been crowned Lebanese Cup Champions.The Women’s’ team will participate in the Lebanese Basketball League. The Beirut Women’s Basketball Club were crowned champions at the 23rd Arab Women’s Club Championship, which was the club’s third consecutive win of the prestigious title.Emirates will support the U-18 and academy teams, by helping the club cultivate a new generation of players, enriching the pipeline of talent from across local communities in Lebanon.The Beirut Basketball Club was formed in 2016, with the aim to foster inclusion among Lebanese sporting enthusiasts. Emirates and the Club have enjoyed a successful relationship over the years, with the airline sponsoring the club during its participation at the Dubai International Tournament on numerous occasions. The Club was one of the first teams to wear the airline’s new “Emirates Fly Better” slogan on its jerseys in 2019.Emirates has been a steadfast supporter of basketball since 1991, when it partnered with the UAE Basketball Association as Sponsor and Official Airline. The airline has also been a sponsor of the Dubai International Basketball Championship for close to 30 years, as well as the staging of the FIBA World Championship in the UAE in 2014. Teams sponsored by Emirates have won the International Basketball Championship seven times.Emirates has also been a proud supporter of the Lebanese Basketball League. In addition, airline has sponsored top division teams in the Lebanese Basketball League through its support of jersey and institutional sponsorships.

Horizon Holdings promotes Haian Nayouf to GM GolinMENA

Horizon Holdings has promoted Haian Nayouf to General Manager of GolinMENA, the company’s public relations division.Haian Nayouf will work closely with Stephen Worsley, the recently appointed Regional Managing Director, to lead the communications work of the agency and build the Golin brand across the region.Nayouf is a seasoned media and communications professional with over 20 years of experience in journalism, agency consultancy, and client-side communications.  In addition to serving several leading PR agencies, he headed the UK Government’s Arabic Media and Communications Hub in the Middle East for eight years and was its Arabic Deputy Spokesperson for two years.His journalism career spans newspapers, radio, and television, including five years as a senior journalist and news producer for the leading pan-Arab outlet-Al Arabiya. Nayouf joined GolinMENA in March 2022, where he leads the agency’s growing public affairs portfolio.Mazen Jawad, CEO of Horizon Holdings, said: “Haian’s deep knowledge of the region and its media culture are tremendous assets. I’m confident he will play a major role in developing our PR offering in the region and bringing the best of Golin internationally to our clients in the Middle East.”Commenting on his appointment, Nayouf expressed his gratitude: “I am thrilled and honored to be appointed General Manager of Golin MENA in the UAE. Working with my colleagues and guided by Mazen’s vision for Horizon group, I’m excited to have this opportunity to realize a new phase of growth for the brand in the Middle East.”

Qatargas rebrands as QatarEnergy LNG

Highlighting the future vision for the Qatar’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, QatarEnergy has rebranded Qatargas to ‘QatarEnergy LNG.’With its new image, “QatarEnergy LNG” will continue to deliver on its commitment to safety, environmental protection, project delivery and the reliability and efficiency of its production facilities.This announcement comes as part of the increasing international recognition of Qatar’s role in meeting the world's growing need for energy, particularly natural gas. It also reflects QatarEnergy’s continued commitment to LNG as a critical source of energy for decades to come and a vital enabler of the energy transition. Qatargas, established in 1984, is a unique global energy operator in terms of size, service and reliability. It currently operates 14 LNG production trains and is at the center of QatarEnergy’s efforts to raise Qatar’s LNG production capacity to 126 MMtpa.His Excellency Minister Al-Kaabi said: “Over the course of 39 years, Qatargas has been a pioneer of the LNG industry, helping place the State of Qatar firmly on the global LNG map and enhancing its leading position as a safe, reliable and trustworthy LNG supplier. Today, ‘QatarEnergy LNG’ carries this legacy forward well into the 21st century helping meet the world’s growing energy demand, placing LNG at the center of a realistic energy transition, and playing a critical role in safeguarding energy security and eliminating energy poverty.”

Inside the gaming mind of Bijay Gurung: From Angry Birds to global success

Founded in 2020, Riyadh-headquartered Sandsoft Games is a gaming company focused on publishing, developing, and investing in high-quality international gaming experiences and studios. Sandsoft delivers in engaging and entertaining experiences to players in the MENA region, with global support from an experienced team with a proven track record. The seasoned team is composed of passionate game creators who collate a deep-rooted knowledge of the video games market, having worked on some of the most successful game franchises ever, including FIFA, Candy Crush, Need for Speed, Angry Birds and World of Tanks.In this exclusive interview with Adgully, Bijay Gurung, Senior Director, Business Development, EMEA, dwells at length on the delicate balance between creativity and commerce in game development, the challenges and strategies of catering to the MENA region, the importance of cross-cultural collaboration, and so on. Join us on this journey through the gaming ecosystem, where continents, cultures, and people are brought closer together through the power of gaming. Excerpts:Your journey in the gaming industry has been quite remarkable, with experiences at companies like Rovio, Huawei, and Real Networks. How have these diverse roles shaped your perspective on business development in the gaming sector?Since starting my career in the days before the App Store and Google Play even existed, it’s been an incredible journey to see the growth and evolution of mobile games. The industry has grown from games being little snackable bits of content that are just 100 kilobytes in size, to being known as household brands. I spent a decade working on the Angry Birds franchise and continue to see its influence across the globe, with a movie, sports sponsorships and toys all spinning out of the IP.Could you share some insights from your time at Rovio, especially regarding your contributions to launching numerous games and leading major marketing programmes with tech giants like Apple, Google, Samsung, Facebook, and Amazon?I joined Rovio when Angry Birds was first gaining popularity and success. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to launch multiple games in close collaboration with the platforms. Particular highlights include launching Angry Birds Space from the international space station, a surprise appearance in CES for a special version of the game for Samsung Smart TVs, and being part of Apple’s key initiatives like ‘Games for RED’ and ‘Apps for Earth’.The mobile gaming industry is known for its rapid changes. How do you approach identifying and capitalizing on new opportunities and synergies across different platforms and geographical regions at Sandsoft Games?At Sandsoft, we are lucky to have amassed huge industry talents from across the globe. This allows us to identify key partners and partnerships from a range of company sizes and regions, all the way from publishing powerhouse Jam City to small indie developers. By working with international teams, we are able to provide the best experience for gamers wherever they play from.Sandsoft Games focuses on delivering gaming experiences in the MENA region. Could you elaborate on the challenges and strategies you employ to ensure that these experiences resonate with the local audience while maintaining global appeal? The challenge is that no two gamers are alike; but there are ways to provide experiences that have broad appeal. Our aim is to provide the ultimate gaming experience by incorporating local content, events, and cultural relevance. However, we also know that players are interested in experiencing content from beyond their own region. That's why we're focusing on games that have a global appeal while still being relevant to the MENA region. One such game that we think fits the bill is Fantasy Pick, a Fantasy Football game.Your background includes an MBA from the Kelley School of Business. How has this formal education complemented your practical experiences, particularly in the gaming industry?Formal education taught me a variety of lessons; not only in educational content, but also when it comes to working with others. My educational background has taught me how to approach challenging situations with clarity and boldness. Indeed, I've been taught the importance of analytical thinking from an early stage which I apply to my role on a daily basis. The multicultural environment at Kelley has equipped me with an understanding of diverse cultures and approaches; very relevant to my role at Sandsoft!Sandsoft Games has offices in various countries, including Saudi Arabia, Spain, Finland, and China. How do you manage cross-cultural collaboration and communication within your team, and what role do you believe this diversity plays in enriching the gaming ecosystem?Although technical solutions such as Slack and Teams are incredibly helpful in day-to-day communication, we also have quarterly face-to-face catch-ups that help foster effective collaboration and understanding. Most importantly, as our organisation grows, our People and Culture team is doing a phenomenal job of bringing everyone together, from new joiners to those that have been with us from the start. Given that our games are designed for a global market, diversity is key to making our games relevant to our players; particularly when it comes to understanding the market with localized marketing.As a Senior Director of Business Development, you've likely been involved in establishing and maintaining partnerships. Could you share a particularly challenging or rewarding partnership experience from your career, and the key lessons you've learned from it?One challenge I face is managing expectations. In my experience, building trust and a long-lasting partnership that goes beyond a single project has been most successful. Not all games or marketing partnerships will succeed, but viewing them as a part of a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship can help cement a lasting partnership. The philosophy behind games as a service follows a similar approach, as our goal is to entertain our players for many years to come. Whilst one partnership may not turn out exactly as planned, it's a long-term vision of success that we strive for.Gaming is increasingly seen as a medium for storytelling and artistic expression. How does Sandsoft Games balance the creative aspects of game development with the business side, and how do you ensure that the teams you work with maintain their artistic integrity while meeting commercial goals?Game making is very much a mix of art and science. Both go hand in hand. From inception we have the mindset of testing in the market what we are building. We have key milestones in different phases of the development process. Ultimately, a game must deliver an enjoyable experience to the players, and when they are truly engaged, commercial success naturally follows.With your extensive network in the gaming industry, what advice would you give to aspiring game developers and business development professionals who aim to make a mark in this ever-evolving sector?Have fun! The advice sounds simple but to truly thrive in the industry, it helps to have a passion for it. Play games, understand the latest releases, and keep up with the latest developments. When you're truly immersed in your work, the best results arise. Also, don't feel that you need to be an expert in everything. Not all of us are great game makers, but perhaps you have great marketing skills. By working closely with industry friends and colleagues, a well-rounded team can make sure all skills are met and the best results are achieved.Lastly, Sandsoft Games' mission revolves around bringing continents, cultures, and people closer together through gaming. Can you share a vision you have for the future of the gaming ecosystem in the MENA region and beyond?We’re deeply committed to delivering the best content to players, wherever they are in the world. To achieve this, we're building up an industry-leading team across the globe, with 20 nationalities represented among our 50-strong team. In August, Ahmed Sharif from META joined Sandsoft as CTO, and Pasqual Batalla became our COO after leaving SocialPoint. As a Saudi Arabia-headquartered company, we’re also committed to nurturing local talent; and our Press Start Internship Program equips local residents with the skills needed to thrive in the industry. With our talented team in place, we are excited to develop more high-quality gaming experiences for international players.

Shamrock Nevis joins Tuesday as Creative Director

Tuesday, a GP Inc Company, has appointed Shamrock Nevis as Senior Creative Director. GP Inc, a shortform for “Growth & Performance,” is headed by Rahul Nagpal, an industry stalwart and former CEO of Group Partnership.  Tuesday, the creative services company of GP Inc, is a Dubai-headquartered marketing services agency, which seeks to blend three verticals combining to deliver the promise of ‘Growth & Performance”: Tuesday Communications for the creative content, Mobiiworld for Tech & Innovation, and Steroid for data analytics and CRM.Shamrock Nevis has had a rich experience of working with agencies including Rain Creative and Saatchi & Saatchi, Cadbury, Cadillac, and HSBC. He has also worked with home-grown brands representing the banking and retail/FMCG sectors.  As Senior Creative Director, he will work closely with Tuesday’s CEO, Alok Gadkar and team, and be responsible for developing and executing the creative narrative for clients across various categories at the agency.Shamrock comments: “I am delighted to be joining Alok and team meeting new challenges and ambitions as we drive the company forward. I am used to working across both international and local brands and Tuesday is carving out a great reputation in both sectors. It’s exciting to be leading the Creative services element of the Tuesday proposition, which takes the intelligence of data analytics to a totally new level, delivering total accountability and ROI for clients.”   Alok Gadkar, CEO, Tuesday, adds: "We extend a hearty welcome to Shamrock. In our quest to elevate not only our creative output but also the overall team dynamics and agency's momentum, we sought an individual who could perfectly balance these aspirations. In Shamrock, we have found an exceptional creative leader who will undoubtedly steer us to greater heights."

SCEGA signs as strategic partner with Athar Festival

'Athar – Saudi Festival of Creativity', the largest gathering of the creative marketing industry in the Kingdom, has announced that the Saudi Conventions & Exhibitions General Authority (SCEGA) has joined the festival as a strategic partner. This endorsement is an affirmation of the Authority’s ambition and role as a facilitator of global business collaboration and partnerships, and ability to unlock new business streams.In the lead-up to the inaugural edition, which runs from November 13–16, 2023, at the Hotel Crowne Plaza Riyadh RDC, SCEGA will provide the necessary technical support for the success and the effective delivery of the message of this creative gathering to the largest segment of the audience.Amjad Shacker, Acting CEO of SCEGA, said: “We are responsible for introducing industry benchmarking M.I.C.E. standards and systems in Saudi Arabia and creating an ecosystem that attracts international events while also identifying and supporting new and high potential industries. Creativity and innovation are at the core of the Kingdom’s transformation blueprint, and unlocking the full potential of the local creative industry to achieve the vision is critical. Our strategic partnership with Athar Festival is a prime example of public-private sector collaboration under Vision 2030, and we hope to contribute to the success of this pioneering platform in its first year and in the years to come.”“Today, Athar Festival welcomes SCEGA, a leading enabler of the Kingdom’s exhibitions and conferences industry, into its ranks. This partnership aligns with one of Athar Festival's key objectives: fostering greater recognition for Saudi creativity and emphasizing its significance as a major economic driver and an enabler of Saudi Vision 2030”, said Ian Fairservice, Chairman of Athar Festival and Managing Partner & Group Editor-in-Chief of Motivate Media Group.Mohamed Al Ayed, Vice Chairman of Athar Festival and CEO of TRACCS, said: “This alliance with SCEGA will greatly contribute to our mission of establishing Athar Festival as a true platform for Saudi Arabia’s future-forward economy. With their support, we look forward to showcasing the power of creativity as an enabler and accelerator of the Kingdom’s sustainable and thriving economic development in an environment that inspires cultural exchange, collaborative innovation, tangible learning, and training and development.”Athar Festival will be able to accommodate around 1,500 delegates and feature 12 academies for young professionals, along with CMOs and executive women. The festival will host 100+ national, international and celebrity speakers who will deliver thought provoking insights across six content themes. The festival has also just opened its doors to early-bird delegate and awards gala dinner registration.

Eton Solutions expands global presence with strategic launch of new office

Dubai: – Eton Solutions, developer of the cloud-based AtlasFive® enterprise resource platform (ERP) for the family office of the future, announced today the opening of its new office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), a significant step in the company's ongoing global expansion. This strategic move is designed to better serve clients in the Middle East and underscores Eton Solutions' commitment to providing unparalleled, localised service in this rapidly growing market.Over the past decade, Eton Solutions has developed a highly sophisticated ERP platform, AtlasFive, originally built by the company founder for his own family office to meet the challenges of creating process efficiencies and operational leverage by incorporating all the operating needs of a family office into one platform in a fully integrated manner. The platform is sold to larger global family offices, generally with USD1 billion of AUM and above. Eton Solutions now has over 650 families on the platform managing over USD737 billion.Satyen Patel, Executive Chairman of Eton Solutions, said, "Our expansion into the UAE is a testament to our commitment to the Middle East region. This new office will allow us to better serve our existing clients and forge new partnerships in this dynamic market. The UAE office is equidistant between Asia and Europe and serves as a connection to key wealth centres. It will act as a hub to serve Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (GCC), Indian sub-continent, Africa, Turkey and parts of Central Asia. We are excited about the opportunities this expansion presents."“I wish to express our appreciation to DIFC (Dubai International Finance Centre) for their instrumental role and unwavering support in ushering Eton Solutions into the UAE landscape,” he added.As part of the firm’s new international thrust, Eton Solutions launched their brand new global Administrative Family Office (AFO)TM solution earlier this year. This solution, which packages the company’s AtlasFive software with its world classes services offering, is designed to help open access to institutional levels of family office capability to ultra-high-net-worth families starting from $50 million in assets, helping them to launch their own virtual family office while achieving cost-effective reporting and a fully outsourced middle and back office. The AFOTM enables clients to streamline their family office, to experience family office-level governance, get full control at their fingertips, achieve total visibility and risk management. As a guideline, the AFOTM module helps family offices cut some 30% to 40% of their operating costs. By way of perspective, a billion dollar plus office typically would cost anywhere between 150 to 200 basis points to run, as the bare minimum. AFOTM can help smaller offices run at a cost of 15bp or even less. As to speed of implementation, Eton Solutions can get AFOTM up and running within 30 days.Bryan Henning, Senior Vice President of International at Eton Solutions, added, "The UAE is a strategic region for our global growth strategy going forward, our solutions cater for a broad range of needs for emerging and existing Family Offices. The launch of our Administrative Family Office (AFO)TM solution is a game-changer for the industry, enabling family offices to streamline their operations and achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency and control. We are dedicated to providing our clients with the best possible service, and this expansion will enable us to deliver our innovative solutions more effectively to clients in the Middle East."In line with this expansion, Eton Solutions is also pleased to announce the appointment of Chetan Chaudhari as Vice President of Sales for the Middle East & India. Based in the new UAE office in Dubai, Chetan will play a pivotal role in strengthening the company's presence in the region and driving its growth strategy.Eton Solutions' commitment to innovation, client service, and global growth continues to drive its success. The company is excited about this new chapter in its history and looks forward to making a positive impact in the Middle East wealth management industry.

McCANN launches McCANN content studios

MENAT: McCann announced today the launch of McCann Content Studios, providing clients with a global capability for social and influencer marketing, as well as connected social commerce. IPG’s influencer agency ITB will join the new unit. McCann LIVE, the network’s social practice that has pioneered work for clients such as Aldi in the UK and Converse in the U.S., will also become part of McCann Content Studios.McCann Content Studios will house the network’s social and influencer strategy capabilities; social creative ideation and content creation; social audience and connection strategies and activation; influencer content co-creation and production; and performance measurement and optimization.ITB, IPG’s pioneering influencer agency, will be integrated into McCann Content Studios. Launched in 2006 with offices in Los Angeles, New York and London, the agency has an established track record of success activating influencers to advance brand platforms for clients including Unilever and Mastercard. By bringing this capability together with McCann’s brand social and social commerce offerings, the agency is enabling clients to have access to a full-service social content and influencer marketing capability that removes the siloes between social and influence that have emerged in the industry.“Brands are increasingly interacting today in social communities in dialogue with fans, creators and influencers. McCann, with our deep heritage and experience in building enduring brand platforms, has been creating social storytelling for brands at scale for some time now. McCann Content Studios will provide our clients with a way to participate in the creator economy and co-create with them without losing their brand’s unique perspective and social voice, getting the best of both worlds,” said Daryl Lee, Global CEO of McCann and McCann Worldgroup."At MCN, we pride ourselves on our pioneering spirit when it comes to integration and collaboration across agencies and within our network. Our united goal is to generate unmatched creativity and success for our clients. The launch of McCann's Content Studios represents a further extension of our capabilities by offering our clients a comprehensive, data-driven, audience-centric, and modular suite of creative content services aimed at realizing their broader business goals," commented Ghassan Harfouche, Group CEO at MCN MENAT and President of McCann Worldgroup APAC.The leadership of the new unit has also been announced:Amit Sutha has been tapped as President and Global Chief Client Officer of McCann Content Studios, reporting to Lee. Most recently Global Chief Client Officer and Global President of Performance & Campaign Content at sister agency Mediabrands Content Studios, Sutha has had a global career spanning continents and has built both creative and media businesses into dominant positions in their markets. His work at Mediabrands helped transform the definition of creative media content by bringing together the best of media, storytelling, talent, data and partnerships. Prior to this role, he was Chief Executive Officer, UM Worldwide in Malaysia, heading up the agency’s full spectrum of marketing and brand related services, media planning, social media management, integrated content creation, eCommerce, data analytics, market research and mobile solutions, while also serving as the founding CEO of data-fuelled creative agency Ensemble Worldwide.Monica Tailor, formerly Global Director of McCann LIVE, has been elevated to Chief Social Marketing Officer of McCann and McCann Content Studios. Under Tailor’s leadership, McCann LIVE quickly became a crucial part of McCann’s core client offering, weaving brands into culture in authentic and entertaining ways. She helped McCann’s integrated Aldi team become world renowned by creating a brand voice and brand storytelling that maximizes social attention and conversion, best illustrated by Aldi’s “Free Cuthbert” campaign – where a single tweet lampooning its rival became one of Twitter’s biggest viral events and Aldi’s biggest news story ever.Crystal Malachias has been appointed Global Head of Influencer for McCann Content Studios, having previously served as SVP, Global Growth & Innovation at ITB. An influencer marketing veteran, her experience spans publishing, including roles at Hearst, Say Media as well as helping to launch Refinery29 in the UK.“We have some of the industry’s very best leading McCann Content Studios. Amit is a content entrepreneur with a proven track record of commercial success. Monica is a pioneer of brand-driven social marketing for some of the world’s most socially impactful brands. Crystal is a trailblazing influencer marketing talent who understands the power of creators to shape culture and advocate for brands. Together, they represent a powerhouse of expertise that will help guide brands to new frontiers of co-creativity,” added Lee.The launch comes at a time of momentum and accolades for McCann Worldgroup, fresh from being ranked in the top five networks at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Top awarded work included Mastercard's "Where to Settle” project which was awarded a coveted Dan Wieden Titanium Lion, a Grand Prix and two Golds,?and Microsoft’s “ADLaM,” which won two Grand Prix, one in Design and one in Creative Business Transformation, as well as new business wins that include TJ Maxx in the U.S., Durex in the UK, Centrum in China and Air India, among others.

Benefit and Reboot coding institute join forces to empower Bahrain's tech talent

Manama: Reboot Coding Institute (Reboot01), the first-of-its-kind on-campus coding institute in the Kingdom of Bahrain, part of the 01Edu global network of coding schools, announced its partnership with BENEFIT, the Kingdom’s innovator and leading company in Fintech and electronic financial transactions services. The agreement marks a significant milestone and a step forward in Reboot01's mission to empower Bahraini students and build a pipeline of highly skilled digital talent for the Kingdom's key sectors, in line with Bahrain's Economic Vision 2030.As Reboot Coding Institute's initial cohort reaches its final selection pool with over 200 students, its partnership with BENEFIT underscores their dedication to provide students with exceptional opportunities in the field of technology. BENEFIT joins a growing list of companies who have partnered with Reboot01 to obtain early access to top-tier talent from a highly-skilled pool of Bahraini developers suited to their specific needs.As part of the collaboration, Reboot01 students will participate in BENEFIT's Masaar Internship Program, which will be tailored specifically for Reboot01 and take place at the company's renowned IT department. This program aims to provide students with fundamental real-world experience and hands-on learning opportunities, laying the framework for future success in the technology sector.In a testament to BENEFIT's commitment to local talent, Reboot01 students will receive priority consideration for employment opportunities at BENEFIT. Furthermore, as part of this collaboration, BENEFIT will provide Reboot01 students with access to their test environment APIs and Sandbox, giving them a unique opportunity to engage with cutting-edge financial technology tools and systems that are being employed across the Kingdom.Yanal Jallad, Managing Director at Reboot01, commented, "We commend BENEFIT for their proactive support of Reboot01's mission, while securing early access to our graduates. This unique partnership includes a tailored internship program for our students and access to BENEFIT's test environment and sandboxes, empowering our students to innovate, benefiting both our partner and their career journeys. Moreover, access to the test environment equips our students with invaluable skill sets for future success."Salah Alwadhi, Head of HR & Admin at BENEFIT stated, “We are pleased to collaborate with Reboot01 in our shared goal of empowering Bahraini students and fostering our country's tech talent pool. This partnership not only allows us to offer students with real-world experience through our renowned Masaar Internship Program, but it also demonstrates our commitment to promoting local talent and fostering innovation within the field.”BENEFIT employees will be visiting Reboot01's campus to engage in mentorship programs, providing students with invaluable insights and advice from industry professionals. Additionally, practical projects and hackathons will be organized to tackle real-world challenges, stimulating creativity, strengthening problem-solving abilities as well as boosting inventive thinking and teamwork amongst Reboot01’s students.The comprehensive two-year program at Reboot01 cultivates expertise not only in generalized full-stack development but also in specialized branches such as Cloud Devops, Artificial Intelligence & Data Science and more. Reboot01 recently announced partnerships with institutions such as the American University of Bahrain (AUBH), YK Almoayyed & Sons and Binance Academy, in addition to its agreement with BENEFIT. These partnerships are in alignment with Bahrain's Economic Vision 2030, aiming to empower local students while equipping them with the skills required to thrive in the ever-developing tech landscape.

From 1969 to 2023: Hisense's Fazalur Rahman reflects on the brand's success

In this exclusive interview, Fazalur Rahman, Marketing Director of Hisense Middle East & Africa, provides insights into Hisense's evolution since its inception in 1969, major milestones, and the brand's remarkable growth in the Middle East. He discusses the changing dynamics of the marketing industry, successful strategies, and the brand's expansion into new avenues, including AI adoption and B2B air-conditioning marketing plans. Excerpts:As Marketing Director of Hisense, Middle East, can you please share as to how the company has evolved since its inception in 1969? Kindly mention a few major milestones that the organization has achieved.Since the company’s inception in 1969, Hisense has been pushing the boundaries of innovation and investing heavily in the research and development to bring to life wide range of electronic products and solution to ever demanding consumers and changing lifestyle. Hisense now has over 90,000 employees worldwide, 29 industrials parks, and as of H1 2023 22 research and development centers across the world that service specific key markets for the brand.Since establishing ourselves in the UAE in 2012, Hisense Middle East has experienced remarkable and steady growth, evolving into a multi-million-dollar enterprise. We now have a strong presence across the region, witnessing substantial expansion across diverse product categories. Our business is thriving through a combination of online and offline channels, earning recognition as one of the top electronic brands in physical retail stores, including both organised and independent outlets, as well as major e-commerce platforms.The company’s solid MEA performance closes a successful 12-month period that has also seen us secure a number of high-profile product awards, including the prestigious CES 2023 Innovation Award and EISA Award for ‘Best Product of the Year’ for our premium 4K Mini-LED ULED TV 65U8HQ, and the Tom's Guide Award 2023 for our 4K UST Triple-Laser Trichroma Projector 100L9H.Hisense is one of the largest consumer electronics companies. What are your responsibilities in running such a big organization flawlessly?As the regional marketing director for Hisense Middle East & North Africa, it is my responsibility to design and reshape strategies to improve brand awareness and equity, execute GTM plans, enhance consumer engagement, and optimise retail/shopper marketing. My primary focus in this role is on driving brand equity, influencing consumer behaviour, and accelerating business growth across the Middle East region.While retail expansion remains key to us, we are also elevating our presence through e-commerce and online platforms. Comprehensive marketing plans that drive traffic and conversions through various social and digital platforms, have supported the brand to increase its brand equity.Another key part of our marketing efforts is supporting the brand through collaboration with global sporting events, which has helped us position Hisense as one of the top consumer electronic brands in the region. Participations included the FIFA World Cup in 2018 and 2022, as well as the UEFA European Championships in both 2016 and 2020 and football club PSG, and previously the Australian Open, NASCAR Xfinity Series, Red Bull Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Germany’s FC Schalke 04.Being a Marketing Director, how have you seen the marketing segment evolving over the years? What are your views on the changing dynamics of the marketing industry?In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in marketing. Today, If the brand wishes to stay ahead of competition and thrive in an ever-changing environment, then it must prioritize providing relevant, personalised customer experiences and meaningful engagements.The pandemic has changed how marketers build brands, and marketing’s role has been redefined. Today’s consumer is more concerned with value than with product, and other factors such as the environment and brand activism are equally important when making a purchasing decision.Customers’ expectations for Online/digital experiences have climbed sharply. These experiences must not only be seamless, but they must also span the whole consumer journey. Be it social, mobile, digital, web, brands must meet the needs of their customers wherever they are.On the execution front, there have been great developments too, like Marketing Automation, Artificial Intelligence and 360 degree experiential marketing, which has changed the marketing landscape.What campaigns and strategies have you devised for Hisense over the years? Have they all worked for the brand? According to you, which would you like to re-work on?Hisense has witnessed a big surge in its brand equity over the years. In the last 5 years Hisense brand equity increased by over 154%, in a highly competitive and challenging business environment. This is a result of our strategies and various activations. Our global brand building platform is Soccer marketing, which has worked very well for us, as it is a highly passionate, engaging and mass appeal touch point. Sponsorships like FIFA World cup 2018 and 2022, Euro ups 206, 2021 and now 2024, PSG had all contributed a lot, creating a strong brand awareness with high engagements. We would be pursuing this strategy for years to come.Apart from that, our strategic approach focuses on engaging and influencing consumer behavior at each touch point of the customer journey, be it online or offline. Also we are focusing a lot on experiential marketing, by enhancing our retail marketing, experiential zones as well as consumer activation for real life interaction with our products and solutions.Our strategy rests on three key drivers i.e. Brand marketing, Product marketing and Retail marketing, these play an important role in driving and brand and business growth. Our strategy is delivering the results and we plan to continue pursing it in future too.Hisense as a brand is best known for its consumer electronics division. Is the brand planning to diverge into different avenues? What would be the forthcoming plans of the brand?Hisense is leading in the space of home appliance and consumer electronics globally. Our business covers multimedia products with a focus on Smart TVs, home appliances, and IT intelligent information. We have grown rapidly in the past few years and have expanded to different avenues.One being Intelligent Transport Systems, providing overall solutions like traffic operation monitoring and emergency central system, ordinary public transportation intelligent system, taxi service management information system, road electromechanical system, intelligent road management system to name a few.We have also diversified into the Medical and Healthcare Industry. Last year we introduced imaging platforms that provide medical practitioners with more accuracy using 4k ultra high-definition resolution and state of the art connectivity in endoscope or surgery monitors. Its diagnostic monitors are currently in the final stages of testing at Ahalia Hospital in Abu Dhabi, UAE, while its ultrasound devices are being tested at Medicano Hospital in Erbil, Iraq.In a recent development, Hisense has opened its flagship stores in GCC, LEVANT and North Africa region. What can you share on this?Hisense’s regional growth has been elevated by the expansion of local offices in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, and Algeria, improving regionwide operations and a more robust partner network and relations strategy. This advancement has also brought the brand closer to its key markets, allowing us to better cater for our end users and network partners. We also look forward to catering to local requirements in terms of products, lifestyle, environment and social that influence the customers consumption patterns and habits with a global R&D centre based in Dubai, that will be an innovation centre for Hisense to introduce new products and technology.AI is taking the centre stage worldwide. What is your take on this? How far has Hisense adopted AI in the marketing domain and other related areas?Artificial intelligence is a great technology that can make human-like decisions, and there are many ways to utilize this power in the world of marketing. What makes artificial intelligence so powerful is that it comes in many different forms. Machine learning and artificial intelligence has come together to optimize ad campaigns across multiple ad platforms. We are utilizing AI tools for various marketing activities like Social listening, which helps us collect and analyze data related to our brand, audience and competitors across various social media platforms. We also use it for integrating customer-facing channels to collect every single interaction for in-depth analysis and insights. It helps in right content development, based on VOC data to find out content which the target audience is interested in and responds to it. AI is also used for identifying the right audience segmentation for programmatic campaigns, which helps us to improve digital ads ROI.Hisense is also making huge inroads into the region’s B2B air-conditioner market with a growing reputation for product efficiency. What are the marketing plans for this?B2B air-conditioning is quite different in approach compared to B2C products. The business characteristics are quite different in terms of the entire decision-making process and stakeholder profile, which are our primary target audience. Our marketing strategy is based on creating the right awareness and engagement to the stakeholders through knowledge sharing initiatives as well as B2B communication events to elaborate Hisense technology, solutions and service back-up for their projects. B2B Exhibition, technical seminars, focus groups from specific industry verticals as well as industry online & offline publication are great ways for us to create demand for our products and solutions.

Rafid Automotive Solutions launches 9 hybrid vehicles and 6 motorcycles

Sharjah: Rafid Automotive Solutions has launched nine hybrid vehicles, including the C-HR and Corolla Cross models, and six BMW F900XR motorcycles to bolster its fleet. These vehicles will manage minor traffic incidents and improve response times and traffic safety across all roads within the Emirate of Sharjah. His Excellency Brigadier General Dr Ahmed Saeed Al Naour, Director General of Central Operations, and His Excellency Ahmed Al Mashrakh, Chief Officer of Rafid and Deputy Head of the Team, attended the launch event.Abdulrahman bin Kanoon Al Shamsi, Director of the Accident & RSA Department at Rafid Automotive Solutions and a member of the Joint Committee, stated: "This step aligns with our vision to support strategic goals and initiatives aimed at achieving climate neutrality and supporting efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the United Arab Emirates, and the Emirate of Sharjah in particular. This is achieved through the utilisation of innovative solutions and modern technologies. Hybrid vehicles and bicycles are environmentally friendly solutions to reduce carbon emissions and decrease fuel consumption."Bin Kannoon further explained that using motorcycles will enhance accessibility for Rafid customers. He emphasised that expanding the bicycle fleet, which will reach 12 motorcycles, will substantially reduce the average response time to minor traffic accidents. Currently, the average response time stands at 10 minutes, and this initiative aims to further reduce this period by increasing the number of bicycles known for their swift and efficient mobility.Rafid applicationThe Rafid application offers a wide array of services designed to simplify the process and empower users by giving them effortless access to services anytime, anywhere. It provides the flexibility needed to efficiently complete transactions, including emergency roadside assistance services such as fuel delivery, tyre and battery replacements, and towing services for vehicles experiencing breakdowns.The application allows vehicle owners to book a car inspection service at "Motorcheck," which offers many inspection options. The "Rafid" app, available in Arabic, English, and Urdu on iOS and Android stores, enables users to schedule appointments at "AutoXpress," a comprehensive facility for repairing all types of vehicles. The "Mobile AutoXpress" service consists of a specialised mobile workshop for repairs and maintenance, providing essential and urgent services such as tire replacement or repair according to the highest quality standards."Rafid Automotive Solutions" is one of the subsidiary projects of Sharjah Asset Management, the investment arm of the government of Sharjah, which was established in 2017 to develop and enhance the automotive sector. "Rafid" has been actively involved in numerous service-oriented projects since its inception up to the present day.

Salesforce and Google expand partnership

Dubai: Salesforce and Google announced an expansion of their strategic partnership to bring together Salesforce, the #1 AI CRM, and Google Workspace, the world’s most popular productivity tool, to drive productivity with AI. This partnership will deliver new bidirectional integrations that allow customers to bring together context from Salesforce and Google Workspace, including Google Calendar, Docs, Meet, Gmail, and more, to power generative AI experiences across platforms.With these integrations, users will be able to seamlessly work across platforms through Salesforce and Google Workspace’s generative AI assistants, Salesforce’s Einstein Copilot, and Duet AI in Google Workspace. Customers can use their own account, contact, and opportunity data from Salesforce to generate customized Google Slides and Docs while Google Meet summaries and context from Gmail and Google Calendar can be brought into Salesforce to update records and trigger workflows, such as saving a signed contract to Salesforce and closing the opportunity with a win-loss report generated in Docs.As part of this collaboration, Salesforce and Google have worked together to make their generative AI assistant offerings extensible and each will be the first partners to integrate with the other’s newly available third-party platforms. Significance: Generative AI is reshaping the way businesses and people work. In fact, 77% of senior IT leaders say generative AI will help their organization serve customers faster, and 64% of businesses expect AI to increase their workforces’ productivity.This expanded partnership will help drive increased productivity by providing the right data and context at the right time, and unlocking generative AI benefits in the flow of work. With this integration, users will be able to:Generate personalized content across Google Workspace and Salesforce: Users will be able to generate personalized and contextual Workspace content, including emails in Gmail, content in Google Docs, and more, from Workspace or Salesforce, by seamlessly accessing relevant Salesforce information on prior meetings, customer interactions, and sales outcomes.Keep Salesforce records up-to-date with context from Google Workspace: Users will be able to leverage Google Workspace data to automatically keep Salesforce records up-to-date, increasing productivity and eliminating manual tasks — like moving an opportunity stage forward in Salesforce based on context from Gmail.   Drive automation at scale: Users will be able to automate processes and eliminate the need for context switching by automatically generating interaction and meeting summaries, scheduling follow-ups and assigning tasks, and more, based on context from Salesforce and Google Workspace. For example, after a successful sales call, a summary from Google Meet can trigger assignment of tasks to owners in Salesforce, schedule follow-up meetings in Google Calendar, and move a deal stage to closed.Go deeper: Salesforce is the first partner to integrate with Google Workspace’s new Duet AI extensions framework and Google Workspace is the first extensibility partner for Salesforce’s new Einstein Copilot. Einstein Copilot will be able to access relevant context in Google Workspace to enrich workflows across sales, service, marketing, commerce, and more. Each of these integrations are backed by the robust privacy and user data protections already in place across Salesforce and Google Workspace. Broader AI momentum: In addition to Google Workspace integrating with Einstein Copilot, today Google and Salesforce announce the ability for customers to bring their LLMs deployed on Vertex AI, including Google’s PaLM family of models, and use them within the Einstein 1 Platform to build generative AI powered experiences across the Customer 360. This continued momentum around data and AI builds upon partnerships announced earlier this year between Salesforce Data Cloud, Google BigQuery, and Google Vertex AI to help businesses utilize data and AI to deliver more holistic customer data strategy and drive personalized customer experiences.The Google perspective: “Our partnership with Salesforce is an example of why an open and extensible ecosystem for generative AI will create the most value for customers. Together, Salesforce and Google Workspace will empower organizations to redefine how work is accomplished with generative AI, help foster innovation and productivity at scale, and make common tasks more efficient and purposeful.” – Thomas Kurian, CEO at Google CloudThe Salesforce perspective: “Our partnership with Google empowers organizations to unlock the full potential of AI and data, grounded in trust. This deep integration between Salesforce and Google Workspace, where many users spend much of their day, helps save time and effort, unlocks far greater value and deeper insights from their data, and will fundamentally change how people work.” – David Schmaier, President and Chief Product Officer at Salesforce

Online store Winly unveils gamified shopping experience and prizes

Online store Winly has introduced a unique and engaging shopping concept, which is poised to disrupt the e-commerce landscape. Spearheaded by entrepreneur Hassan EL Imam, Winly has introduced a captivating shopping concept that combines convenience with a gamified experience, making each purchase an opportunity to win.With every purchase made on the platform, customers receive a complimentary Prize Draw ticket, unlocking the chance to win a range of captivating prizes. This gamified shopping experience sets Winly apart and appeals to modern consumers who seek value, entertainment, and quality products all in one place. The platform has launched three competitions, providing users with the opportunity to win AED 10,000, AED 35,000 or an IPhone 14 Pro.Founder Hassan EL Imam, a seasoned entrepreneur with over five years of experience in licensing and franchising, has a vision for Winly which is driven by a desire to transform the online shopping landscape. Recognizing the changing needs of customers, he set out to blend the convenience of e-commerce with an interactive and rewarding twist. Through Winly, customers can access a curated selection of products while enjoying the anticipation of winning valuable rewards.Anchored in transparency and integrity, Winly ensures that all Prize Draw proceedings are regulated by the Dubai Economy & Tourism, instilling confidence in customers as they explore this groundbreaking shopping platform.The launch of Winly marks a significant stride in the world of e-commerce. As businesses adapt to dynamic market demands, Winly emerges as a frontrunner, offering not just products, but an immersive and innovative shopping journey.

Manassvini Rizvi appointed as Head of Marcom by entourage

entourage has appointed Manassvini Rizvi as Head of Marcom. Rizvi has taken the control of the agency’s Marketing & Communications division, solidifying efforts in growing the vertical within entourage and expanding the regional team. Manassvini has been an integrated communications practitioner for more than 15 years, and has been the driving force behind the growth of several local and international brands, including ENOC Retail, DEWA, Western Union, and Coca-Cola, to name a few. She has held leadership roles, overseeing the brand planning, campaign management and the successful deployment of communication strategies across local and multinational agencies, including a decade at C2 Communication where she held the role of Group Marcom Director. Mohammed Tayem, Founder & CEO, entourage welcomed Manassvini into the team. He said: “We are reinforcing our commitment to the region and expanding our capabilities to meet the evolving media scene. With the expanding economy and the renewed push towards marketing activities, it is a part of our growth strategy to bolster our teams to meet new challenges and expand on our offerings within the communications spectrum, specially across performance and data driven marketing.” In her new position, Manassvini will lead the development of Marcoms strategy across the agency’s impressive portfolio of clients, while continuing to power the agency’s strong credentials in organising and managing turnkey mega projects.Manassvini also shared her excitement on being a part of Entourage. She said: “With its dynamic edge, entourage offers me a series of opportunities and challenges to navigate along with the team and build capabilities across the board.”

iKO Media Group partners with STN

iKO Media Group has announced its new partnership with STN. This partnership will provide added value to the customers of both companies, allowing the use of both companies’ services and abilities to bring together the optimal solution for the channel or content owners.STN is a well-established, forward-thinking global teleport facility, firmly placed at the cutting edge of satellite, broadcast, connectivity, and co-location services. Based in Slovenia, the heart of Europe provides a strategic location that presents a wide visible arc of 120 degrees, allowing easy access to all major satellites’ orbital positions.STN provides global telecommunication services in C-, Ku-, DVB-s, and Ka-band for all prime satellites to all continents around the world.High level security and a well-connected facility allow STN to provide a comprehensive range of equipment hosting services for servers, TT&C, antenna with available ground space for larger scale projects.With one of the world’s most highly developed internet infrastructures, the company has virtually unlimited capacities with complete double or triple redundancy/diversity options.iKO Media Group AG is a Swiss entity with a state-of-the-art teleport in Rome, Italy, connected globally and providing tailor-made solutions focused on customer needs through dedicated service, expert knowledge, and high professionalism.Recent company growth led to the broadcasting of almost 400 TV channels using 450 Mbps on satellites and 700 Mbps of IP for contribution delivery. iKOMG provides a full spectrum of services to broadcasters and content owners, such as automated, high-capacity playout management services, cloud services, EPG creation, disaster recovery solutions, monitoring feed, OTT platforms, and IP delivery. iKOMG differs from other service providers thanks to a holistic approach and a keen ability to offer the best-suited technology-based solutions for their customers.To support growing demand, iKOMG and STN have established a strategic partnership focused on teleport and ground services, sports and event services, and OTT platforms. As one of the biggest and most experienced providers in Europe, STN is an excellent partner to help iKOMG provide faster, more reliable, and higher-quality services to its customers.“We’ve been talking with STN for a few months but finalized the dynamic partnership a few weeks ago. Our agreement has no defined timeline as we see the relationship delivering tremendous benefits for iKOMG, STN, and the combined customer base for years and years to come. We are excited to start building and developing alongside the great team at STN” said iKO Media Group’s Chairman, David Treadway.  “As our collaboration discussions progressed over the recent months it became quickly and mutually apparent to both companies of the great advantages to client services this robust combination could provide. This new partnership will give way to expansion and progress in every area of business. The expertise, industry experience and professionalism of both STN and iKOMG will bring a broader spectrum of enhanced service solutions to all clients.” Commented Mitja Lovsin, General Manager, STN.

Dell Technologies appoints Alexandre Brousse to lead its EMEA Channel

Dubai: Dell Technologies has appointed Alexandre Brousse as EMEA Channel Lead, effective October 1. Brousse will work with the EMEA Channel team to deliver a customer-centric and partner-empowered ecosystem that drives growth and innovation in the region. He succeeds Anwar Dahab who has been appointed to lead Dell Technologies in France. Brousse has been with Dell Technologies for 18 years, most recently leading Channel Sales for Western Europe. “With today’s leadership announcements we demonstrate our commitment to growth and creating market opportunities for both our customers and partners.,” said Diego Majdalani, President, Global Channel Sales, Dell Technologies. "Alexandre Brousse is a highly experienced, respected leader and will be an asset to my leadership team and our broader EMEA partner ecosystem, while Anwar brings a great channel perspective, relationships, and a deep understanding of the French market to his new role.” “Partners are essential to our success. When we work hand-in-hand with partners, we move faster, spur progress and deliver strong outcomes to our customers,” said Alexandre Brousse, EMEA Channel Lead, Dell Technologies. “I am honored and excited for the opportunity to accelerate our partner momentum and look forward to building even stronger relationships with our partners in region.”

Kristian Imhof joins LEGO Group as GM for MEA region

Kristian Imhof has been appointed as the new General Manager for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region by the LEGO Group. Imhof is highly experienced in corporate leadership, with a proven track record in both established and emerging markets. Jeroen Bejier, who established the LEGO Group’s presence in the Middle East and spearheaded operations in MEA over the past four years, handed over his responsibilities to Imhof.Imhof joined the LEGO Group in 2012 and has played an essential role in developing the company. Starting in the Munich office in Germany, he has led innovative initiatives in Austria, Switzerland, and beyond.In 2017, he moved to Johannesburg as the General Manager of South Africa and Sub Saharan region. Imhof’s visionary leadership expanded wholesale channels in Southern Africa and fostered distributor relationships in both West and East Africa. After an impressive track record, Imhof returned to Europe Central in 2021 and later assumed the role of Acting General Manager. Now, he is taking on the exciting challenge of leading the dynamic MEA region.The LEGO Group has been actively engaging consumers in the region. Imhof plans to build upon this and expand the brand’s footprint through various distribution and communication channels. His expertise in diverse markets will enable him to create tailored strategies that resonate with the unique cultures and preferences of the MEA region. Additionally, he envisions geographical expansion to ensure that the LEGO experience reaches more corners of the region.

Sayarti announces strategic partnership with Tesla Power MENA

Muscat: Sayarti LLC, a subsidiary of The Zubair Corporation, announced the signing of a strategic partnership agreement with Tesla Power MENA (Middle East and North Africa) – a part of Tesla Power USA LLC. The partnership marks Sayarti LLC as the Authorised Distributor for passenger car, SUV as well as commercial vehicle batteries and a range of industrial batteries. This affiliation cascades within Sayarti’s framework of meeting the evolving needs of customers in the fields of renewable and conventional energy storage.The partnership agreement was signed by Niels Bormans, CEO of The Zubair Corporation and on behalf of Tesla Power Middle East by Irfan Ahmed, the CEO -MENA region. The ceremony was graced by the presence of several senior representatives of both the companies.Speaking on the occasion, Niels Bormans, CEO of The Zubair Corporation said, “The agreement between Sayarti and Tesla Power MENA is a strategic move to provide high-quality innovative products and energy solutions to the local market. As a trusted and experienced entity, the opportunity to serve as an Authorised Dealer for Tesla batteries holds special significance and will allow Sayarti to provide comprehensive mobility solutions to its customers. We look forward to a long-term productive relationship between the Corporation and Tesla Power MENA.”Tesla Power MENA is a part of the American company Tesla Power USA LLC, has been acknowledged for being a pioneer and leader in introducing high quality and long-life battery solutions, completely revolutionising the energy storage industry. After having established a prominent client base in the American continent, Tesla Power USA has now expanded its operations in the MENA region. Tesla Power USA is also well known for its Sealed Maintenance Free Valve Regulated Lead Acid Batteries as well as Solar Batteries with a growing customer base in the region. Irfan Ahmed, CEO of Tesla Power MENA said, “With a strong focus on innovation through research & development, Tesla Power USA continually provides innovative solutions in the energy storage space. We are delighted to enter the Omani market through our range of automotive and industrial batteries with a robust partner such as The Zubair Corporation. This partnership will further Tesla Power’s position as a leading company in the renewable and conventional energy storage industry across the globe."Commencing operations in 1992, Sayarti LLC is an ISO certified company that serves as a market leader in the field of vehicle rental and leasing services in Oman. Operating under the General Automotive Co. LLC, the company offers best-in-class services to deliver innovative solutions in the field of vehicle leasing, catering not only to the needs of individual customers, but to those of corporate clients as well.

ANYbotics and Sigma Enterprises announce partnership in UAE

Abu Dhabi: ANYbotics strengthens its presence in the Middle East, appointing Sigma Enterprises as a reseller partner for the UAE. Sigma Enterprises, part of the privately-held diversified holding company Mazrui International, will increase inspection robot deployment in the region's oil & gas, power, chemicals, metals, and transportation sectors. ANYbotics' advanced mobile robots perform autonomous inspections, asset monitoring, and anomaly detection in complex industrial environments. Sigma Enterprises will offer the ANYmal inspection solution, support services, customer training, and technical expertise. The partnership and ANYmal will be showcased at ADIPEC 2023 (International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference) in Abu Dhabi, October 2-5.Marwan Moubarak (center, MD, Mazrui Trading and Sigma Enterprises) with Satschin Bansal (left, VP Partnerships) and Dr. Péter Fankhauser (right, CEO) from ANYbotics, during a recent visit to ANYbotics at their head office in Zurich.Bringing Automated Inspection to Ex-zones in the UAEANYbotics' collaboration with Sigma Enterprises (part of the Mazrui Group) underscores the demand for industrial robotic inspection in the region, particularly in the oil & gas and power sectors. Sigma Enterprises and ANYbotics have combined their automation and advanced-legged robotics expertise to provide unparalleled industrial inspection solutions. By leveraging local expertise, industry networks, and proximity to key players delivered through Sigma, ANYbotics can better address the specific needs of production facilities, improve customer support and build a strong position in this crucial market.“As part of the Mazrui Group, Sigma Enterprises provides one of the UAE's best-in-class calibration and technology support services. Growing ANYbotics' presence in the region and focusing on expanding our partner network with accomplished reseller partners like Sigma Enterprises are strategic initiatives that drive our growth, increase market penetration and accelerate the global adoption of our robotic inspection solutions.” Satschin Bansal, Global VP Strategic Alliances & Partnerships, ANYboticsTransforming the Regional Inspection Ecosystem with Cutting-edge Robotic TechnologyWith the addition of ANYbotics' robots to its portfolio and the introduction of state-of-the-art robotic inspection technology in the region, Sigma Enterprises is changing the inspection landscape. ANYbotics' inspection solutions increase safety by reducing worker exposure to hazardous environments, improve predictive maintenance through early detection of equipment anomalies, and optimize production through more accurate and frequent data collection.ANYbotics' advanced autonomous robots are designed to perform autonomous inspection, monitoring, and anomaly detection tasks in diverse and complex industrial environments. They provide immediate added value by integrating as an end-to-end solution with asset management software and digital twin platforms that enable customers to automate inspections easily.Leveraging its extensive experience in oil & gas, power generation, and utilities, Sigma Enterprises offers ANYmal and ANYmal X inspection solutions including a range of local support services, customer training, and technical expertise to ensure successful implementation and operation.“At Sigma, we are proud to work with world-leading technology brands from America, Europe, and Japan, among others. By partnering with ANYbotics, Sigma Enterprises can leverage its expertise in advanced technology to expand its offerings and provide effective solutions to its customers.” Marwan Moubarak, Managing Director, Sigma Enterprises LLCANYmal - Revolutionizing Industrial InspectionANYmal is a rugged, autonomous, highly mobile inspection solution with ready-to-use payloads and a leading non-Ex inspection robot. As the world's only Ex-certified legged robot solution, ANYmal X combines the performance of ANYmal and is the world’s only Ex-proof legged robot for safe use in hazardous and potentially explosive atmospheres.Whether automating repetitive tasks, performing detailed inspections in hard-to-reach areas, ensuring safety compliance, or monitoring environmental parameters, ANYmal and ANYmal X are the leading robotic inspection solutions for the oil & gas, chemical, and power sectors.See ANYmal, ANYbotics and Sigma Enterprises in ActionThe ANYbotics - Sigma Enterprises partnership and ANYmal will be showcased at ADIPEC 2023 in Abu Dhabi, October 2-5. More than 2,200 companies worldwide, representing the entire energy ecosystem and beyond, will gather at ADIPEC to showcase the latest strategies and innovations defining tomorrow's energy. This makes the event an ideal platform to showcase ANYmal’s capabilities.ANYmal's presence at ADIPEC will allow industry professionals to learn firsthand how robotic solutions can improve efficiency, safety, and productivity. Demonstrations will showcase ANYmal's potential applications in plant inspection, asset monitoring, and environmental tasks.

Mindware and BitTitan sign VAD partnership agreement

Dubai: Mindware, a leading value-added distributor (VAD) in the Middle East and Africa, today announced its distributor partnership with BitTitan, a premier provider of cloud migration solutions. As per the terms of the agreement, Mindware will market and distribute BitTitan's suite of migration solutions for managed services automation, enabling the vendor to broaden its SaaS migration services within the Middle East and Africa region. This strategic partnership aims to provide regional businesses of all sizes with a seamless and efficient experience when they need to migrate data to the Cloud or between tenants.Speaking about the partnership, Silmi Khanfir, Director of Cloud & XaaS at Mindware commented: “Businesses are transforming, and so is their IT spend strategy. We live in a digital, and data-driven world where migration to the Cloud securely is a constant challenge faced by enterprises. BitTitan’s fully automated, industry-leading SaaS solution simplifies Cloud migration projects. Mindware’s collaboration with the company will give our current and potential customers the tools required to expand and operate in the Cloud with enhanced efficiency, security, and productivity. The company’s robust solution portfolio will help Mindware’s channel partners to play a vital role in aiding enterprises to digitally transform with confidence while optimizing time and resources.”Companies and organizations around the globe are migrating to the cloud and between cloud tenants in response to ongoing trends. Migration activity has increased as a result of mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. Moreover, companies are requiring migrations as they move more to the cloud to support remote work and workplace modernization. Technology changes, including cybersecurity concerns and Microsoft’s upcoming end to active and security support for Exchange Server, are also driving migration activity. IT teams and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are looking for an intuitive yet customizable migration tool that will handle projects of every size and type.BitTitan’s secure, fast, and scalable MigrationWiz is the industry-leading, 100% SaaS solution that enables users to quickly and securely migrate email, files, and other workloads from a wide range of source and destination endpoints. The company has customers in over 180 countries and has successfully migrated more than 28 million users.Mindware supports 4,000+ partners across the region. With the new VAD partnership, BitTitan will have increased presence in the region and be able to leverage trusted channel partnerships of Mindware.The two companies will work together on several key initiatives including identifying cloud partners who align with the vendor’s goals; offering BitTitan product and technical training and certification; digital marketing campaigns including webinars and social media activations; and joint participation at live in-region events to build brand awareness, generate demand, and attract the attention of industry leaders and decision-makers.Lon Clark, Sr. Director, Global Channel Sales, at BitTitan said: "BitTitan is thrilled to partner with Mindware, a leading distributor in the Middle East and Africa. Our commitment is to enable our partners with the solutions they need to ensure swift and secure data migration for customers.”“Together with Mindware, we’re providing our partners with a single source for best-of-breed cloud migration solutions capable of managing multiple cloud workloads. Whether migrating between instances of tenant-to-tenant environments or Microsoft Teams, MigrationWiz provides a seamless migration experience for end-user companies, ensures a high level of customer satisfaction, and enables our partners to achieve continued business growth,” he concluded.