Human-like AI assistant Yasmina begins beta testing in Saudi Arabia

Yango has announced that it is now possible to sign up for the public beta testing of its human-like AI assistant Yasmina.The assistant is built and trained to understand various Arabic dialects and can respond in Khaleeji and English. Saudi residents are now welcome to enroll in the beta testing and be among the first to interact with Yasmina.Yasmina has a unique capability to engage in authentic, consistent, and enjoyable conversations, making interactions feel remarkably natural and relatable. Yasmina knows local jokes, recognizes whether the user is male or female, and puts on only age-appropriate content when interacting with children.Yasmina’s ability to maintain an engaging conversation is based on a large language model. Dozens of copywriters and hundreds of individual content contributors edited and perfected dialogs to fine-tune the model, allowing it to learn and grow into Yasmina’s unique Khaleeji personality.Hundreds of local residents from various locations across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam, took part in training Yasmina’s speech recognition, enabling the assistant to understand a wide variety of speech patterns, intonations, and dialects.On a more practical level, Yasmina works as a smart home center: you can ask Yasmina to adjust the room temperature, turn on the vacuum, or find a new recipe. More than just an app on your phone, Yasmina can be built into other apps and smart home devices, making them friendlier and easier to use, ultimately bringing new user experiences.Samer Mohamad, Yasmina Regional Director for MENA, Yango: “Our mission at Yango is to transform global technologies into everyday services for communities around the world. This is why we created an Arabic-speaking smart assistant that helps complete everyday chores more efficiently, fits perfectly in any GCC home, and can, among other things, inform users of prayer times. Right now, we’re fine-tuning Yasmina’s LLM to make the assistant even more fluent, creative, and emotionally intelligent.”

Exploring the future of ad-tech: A 2024 outlook

Authored By Sahil Chopra, Founder CEO, iCubesWireIf you've been closely following the dynamic tech scene in the Middle East, you're well aware of its continuous innovation. Brace yourselves, because 2024 is poised to be a pivotal year for the region's advertising technology (ad-tech) industry. Let's delve into the anticipated trends that are set to shape the landscape throughout the upcoming year.Programmatic Ads: An ever-evolving star of advertisingIn 2024, the spotlight is more on programmatic ads, a global trend that the Middle East is eagerly adopting. Picture this: automation, real-time bidding, and data-driven decision-making. Advertisers will precision-target specific audiences with customised content, reminiscent of precision ninjas operating at an unprecedented scale.The power duo of AI and Machine LearningArtificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are set to play a pivotal role in the ad-tech industry. By 2024, advertisers will harness these technologies for sniper-like precision targeting, optimising ad placements, and delivering personalised content that feels tailor-made. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are reshaping our interactions with ads, moving beyond mere algorithms.Video content takes center stageWhile binge-watching may seem like a global phenomenon, the Middle East's ad-tech scene is embracing video content. Platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and irresistible OTT services are taking centre stage. Prepare for immersive and interactive video ads to become the new norm, offering captivating content that resonates with audiences.The future of advertising with AR and VRAugmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are crashing the party, bringing mind-blowing experiences to the forefront. Advertisers are planning interactive encounters, allowing users to virtually try on sneakers and experiment with AR filters. The Middle East's innovative spirit is undergoing a high-tech makeover, revolutionising how brands connect with consumers.Privacy takes the leadIn alignment with global trends, the Middle East's ad-tech sector is prioritising privacy. By 2024, advertisers will adopt privacy-centric methods, responding to consumer demands for transparency and adhering to stricter regulations. Technologies like federated learning and differential privacy will be employed to strike the delicate balance between personalised ads and respecting user privacy.E-commerce integration in ad feedsShopping without leaving your favourite app is becoming a reality as advertisers integrate e-commerce into the ad-tech landscape. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are driving this trend, enabling users to make purchases directly through ads. Social commerce is on the rise, offering advertisers valuable insights into consumer shopping habits.Cultural sensitivity mattersIn 2024, diversity is celebrated, and advertising strategies are evolving to embrace the unique cultures and languages of the Middle East. Advertisers are prioritising cultural nuances in content, aiming to connect with audiences on a deeper level, regardless of their location.Partnerships and collaborationsSuccess in the ever-evolving world of ad-tech is a team effort. Advertisers, tech experts, and content creators are joining forces to create advertising magic. Cross-industry collaborations are the secret sauce for 2024, bringing together the best minds to deliver high-quality advertising solutions.Ads with a purpose: CSR and sustainabilityAdvertisers are championing sustainability, and 2024 will witness the rise of eco-friendly campaigns and purpose-driven ads. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming a central theme in advertising, contributing to positive change.Dynamic regulatory landscapeIn the fast-paced game of ad-tech, keeping an eye on regulations is crucial. The industry's dynamic nature suggests that the regulatory landscape will experience some changes. Advertisers need to stay nimble, adapting to shifts in consumer protection, data privacy, and digital advertising regulations to stay at the forefront.In 2024, the Middle East's ad-tech is set to redefine the way we experience advertising, blending cutting-edge technology, engaging content, and cultural relevance. It's not just about following trends; it's about navigating the future with style and innovation. It's time to get ready for an exciting ride in the realm of Ad Tech!

Memac Ogilvy announces new leadership for UAE operations

Memac Ogilvy’s new leadership appointment for its UAE operations reflects the company's commitment to promoting internal talent and strengthening its position in the marketing and communications industry. Hadi Ballout and Saad Abu Touq, both seasoned professionals within the company, have been promoted to jointly lead the UAE operations, the network's largest operation.Hadi Ballout, with his experience since 2016 at Memac Ogilvy, will now serve as the Managing Director for advertising. On the other hand, Saad Abu Touq, who has dedicated over 13 years to the company, will take on the role of Managing Director for PR. Together, they will oversee the network's business units, combining their skills and experiences.This move is seen as a positive impact on Memac Ogilvy's culture, work quality, and client relationships, showcasing the benefits of internal growth. Ghassan Maraqa, CEO of Memac Ogilvy, expressed pride in promoting these dynamic leaders from within the organization, emphasizing their strategic focus and long-lasting relationships with top clients.Hadi Ballout expressed his excitement about leading the advertising business to new heights, focusing on elevating creative offerings and delivering exceptional results. Saad Abu Touq, having spent over a decade with Memac Ogilvy, expressed honor in continuing to lead the PR business in the UAE and expanding his responsibilities to oversee the operations alongside Hadi.The joint leadership is expected to uphold the company's shared values and network cohesion as Memac Ogilvy enters a new growth phase, leveraging the leaders' 20 years of combined experience within the company across five markets.

MCN promotes Lara Arbid to CEO of Initiative MENAT and Magna Global MENAT

MCN (Middle East Communications Network) has announced that Lara Arbid takes up the reins as CEO of Initiative MENAT and Magna Global MENAT, following Bassem Massoud’s departure after 15 successful years with the network. Arbid joined MCN Riyadh in 2014 and was the first female General Manager of a media agency in Saudi Arabia, leading Magna KSA for several years before moving to Dubai and leading as Regional Managing Director at Initiative & Magna. “Given her solid background, passion, drive and deep expertise, I’m confident that Lara will thrive in her new role,” said Ghassan Harfouche, Group CEO of MCN. <img src='\1f4759dbc11b7fdbe408bf57b73083db.png' class='content_image'>Arbid says she is thrilled to be leading Initiative and Magna in the MENAT region. “I am passionate about our people, product and partners, and I really look forward to delivering success in 2024 and beyond."With Lara becoming CEO, Santadip Roy is taking on the role of Regional Managing Director at Magna Global. Santadip has been with MCN since 2018 and is a well-respected professional for his knowledge, expertise, and contributions to the business in his previous position as Regional Head Digital, Data & Technology and Business Solutions.

Salaam TV launches with a bang: A bold leap into the future of broadcasting

Salaam TV, the much-anticipated news channel, is set to make its mark in the news media landscape. With an extensive reach spanning South East Asia, India and Dubai markets, Salaam TV promises to redefine news broadcasting with its cutting-edge approach. This channel promises to bring captivating content that celebrates diversity, fosters understanding and embraces unity.Anchored by a stellar team and equipped with state-of-the-art studios, what sets Salaam TV apart is its unwavering commitment to delivering excellence in content, graphics and programming. The channel boasts innovative and insightful content that goes beyond the headlines, providing viewers with a comprehensive understanding of the news. The graphics are not just visually appealing but serve as a tool to enhance storytelling, making information more accessible and engaging. The programming is meticulously crafted to offer a seamless viewing experience, ensuring that each show flows seamlessly into the next.The dawn of Salaam TV heralds a new era in broadcasting, commencing each day with the informative 'Subah Ki Pehli Khabar,' setting the stage for well-informed mornings. Following suit, 'Morning Mubarak' provides a refreshing start, while 'Raah-e-Nijat' engages viewers with insightful discussions. Swift updates are delivered through 'Salaam Speed News,' complemented by the health-focused 'Hakeem Akbar Kausar.' For the Dubai audience, 'Khaleej News' takes center stage and 'Atiya Herbs' imparts valuable insights into herbal wellness. Interestingly, ‘Khabar Gulzar Hai’ also celebrates uplifting stories, spotlighting positive news to inspire and foster hope in viewers.As the sun sets, Salaam TV's evening line-up captivates audiences with the likes of 'Shaam Se Pehle' delivering the evening bulletin and 'News Panorama' presenting global updates. Engaging debates become the highlight with 'Badi Bahes,' providing platforms for thought-provoking discussions. The night concludes on a melodic note with 'Sadabahar Naghme,' and '11th Hour - The Last Bulletin' ensures viewers remain informed before bidding adieu to the day.Speaking on the vision of the news channel, Tarique Faridy , Editior Salaam TV said, “Salaam TV is where each story isn't just recounted but lived, a place where narratives unfold, discussions spark and enlightenment takes centre stage. It transcends the conventional boundaries of a typical news channel; it is a vibrant platform for exploration, meaningful discussion and intellectual enlightenment. In every show, we aspire to create an immersive experience that goes beyond the mere conveyance of information. Stay tuned for thought-provoking shows, engaging stories and a platform that promotes nationalism and harmony.”Salaam TV emerges as a comprehensive source of news, entertainment and insightful discussions, catering to a diverse audience.

Marjan welcomes third Hilton property on Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Marjan Island

Marjan, the master developer of freehold properties in Ras Al Khaimah, has announced an iconic new landmark backed by Hilton on Al Marjan Island, one of the Northern Emirate’s premium tourism, business and investment destinations. The project, consisting of a 5-star hotel and exclusive branded residences, will be built by M Hospitality on the upscale Al Marjan Island.This is the third Hilton property to be brought to Al Marjan Island by M Hospitality, which has delivered successful projects including the world’s largest Hampton by Hilton.The new project comprises 410 keys, encompassing 350 hotel rooms and 60 exclusive residences. It will showcase the highest 360-degree sky pool in the Northern Emirates, an executive lounge, a convention centre, and three F&B outlets, along with recreational facilities. Designed by the award-winning architectural firm JT+Partners, this Hilton-operated hotel, backed by half a million-dirham investment, is expected to elevate hospitality standards in Ras Al Khaimah.Arch. Abdulla Al Abdouli, Chief Executive Officer, Marjan, said: “The latest Hilton property will usher in a new era of luxury living on Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Marjan Island as the enduring appeal of waterfront living continues to attract local, regional and global investors to our flagship development. The new property reinforces Ras Al Khaimah’s growing stature as a leading international tourism, business and investment destination and is a testament to Al Marjan Island’s reputation as an exceptional living space for both homeowners and investors who are raising the bar in the hospitality sector. We are confident that M Hospitality’s latest Hilton-backed property will significantly elevate the lifestyles of our discerning clientele.”Mohammed Ruqait, Chairman of M Hospitality, said: “We are honoured to unveil our latest venture—a 5-star hotel and branded residences on Ras Al Khaimah’s iconic Al Marjan Island. This project reflects our commitment to redefining luxury living, offering an extraordinary hospitality experience. Teaming up with the prestigious Hilton brand signifies the third milestone in our journey, and we are excited to contribute to the cultural and economic landscape of Ras Al Khaimah.”He added: “We are designing an exceptional development that will be an example of excellence on Al Marjan Island. Together with the strategic location and our commitment to sustainability, our goal is to exceed the highest standards of hospitality in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah."Through this project, we promise to provide the best design through which we pledged to create a design that will be an example of excellence on Al Marjan Island. The meticulous design, strategic location and commitment to sustainability underscore our goal of exceeding the highest standards of hospitality in Ras Al Khaimah.”The latest hospitality project on Al Marjan Island further enhances Ras Al Khaimah’s appeal as a leading international tourism, business and investment destination. With this new development, M Hospitality aims to surpass Ras Al Khaimah’s gold standards in hospitality by offering an unparalleled upscale living experience for luxury enthusiasts and property buyers seeking exclusive experiences. Due for completion by the fourth quarter of 2026, the project will enrich Ras Al Khaimah’s cultural and economic landscape

Landvault appoints Muhammad Hamza as VP of Business GCC

Landvault, a leading metaverse-tech company, has announced the appointment of Muhammad Hamza as the Vice President of Business GCC. Based in Dubai, Muhammad's extensive expertise in artificial intelligence, metaverse technologies, and virtual development will further drive Landvault's business strategy and oversee its international expansion in the GCC region. Hamza’s career trajectory includes holding various positions across prestigious entities such as Emirates & Dnata Group, Wafi Group, and Dubai World, and is highly regarded for his success in driving digital transformation. As the Co-Founder of Masary Capital, he has played a pivotal role in shaping strategic partnerships with global technology and blockchain companies, while empowering regional organisations and venture capitalists to embrace AI.Landvault has built over 100 million square feet in virtual experiences for brands including Mastercard, Standard Chartered, Hershey, and more. As immersive experiences and artificial intelligence continue to reshape industries, Landvault stands at the forefront of driving technological advancements in the GCC region. The company expanded to the UAE earlier in 2023 and is heavily investing in the region, already building virtual worlds for real estate companies and some prominent entities, amongst other projects which will be revealed in Q1 2024 - contributing to the UAE's ambitious ‘Strategy for Artificial Intelligence’ and the ‘Dubai Metaverse Strategy’. These initiatives aim to elevate government performance, foster innovation, and position the UAE as a global leader in these transformative fields. “We are pleased to welcome Muhammad Hamza to the leadership team and look forward to capitalising on the momentum the GCC region has to pave the way in terms of new technologies, specifically immersive experiences powered by AI” said Samuel Huber, CEO of Landvault.Muhammad Hamza added: "I have consistently sought out opportunities with forward-thinking organizations that redefine industry standards. In line with Dubai's visionary approach to becoming a center for Metaverse and Blockchain technology, Landvault is strategically positioned to emerge as a trailblazing platform provider. Backed by the trust of leading global brands and energized by a dynamic international team, I am deeply convinced of Landvault’s substantial potential. Our collective objective is to craft a compelling vision for the GCC region, and I am eagerly anticipating the challenge of guiding Landvault to the forefront as the premier Metaverse provider in the area."Apart from his extensive experience, Muhammad is currently pursuing an MSC in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science from the University of Birmingham Dubai, further solidifying his position at the forefront of academic and industry advancements.

Calabrio opens Middle East cloud with AI-powered interaction analytics

Calabrio, a longstanding leader in Workforce Management (WFM) solutions in the Middle East, marks a significant milestone in its commitment to the region by introducing AI-Powered Interaction Analytics on a public cloud infrastructure within the region. This offering is intricately designed to cater to the specific requirements of Middle East contact centers, incorporating local language support, Arabic call transcriptions, and a dedicated public-cloud instance in the UAE.Following the acquisition of Teleopti in 2019, Calabrio solidified its position as the leading WFM provider in the Middle East. The company has consistently prioritized the understanding and adaptation of regional needs. This dedication transcends mere language support, encompassing a holistic approach to address unique challenges and deliver a seamless, culturally sensitive experience for users.With the unveiling of AI-Powered Interaction Analytics, Calabrio takes a bold stride to empower Middle East contact centers with advanced analytics tools driven by artificial intelligence. Notably, several Middle East customers have already embraced Calabrio’s cloud solutions from other regions. The addition of a local public cloud instance in the UAE reinforces compliance with data sovereignty and privacy regulations, offering a secure and reliable platform for regional customers.Key features of Interaction Analytics for the Middle East include:1. Arabic Transcriptions: Calabrio’s Interaction Analytics provides precise transcriptions of calls in Arabic, enabling contact centers to leverage a comprehensive set of AI-driven analytics tools for actionable insights from customer interactions.2. Middle East Cloud: By establishing a public cloud instance in the UAE, Calabrio ensures that customer data is hosted locally. This addresses the demands of data sovereignty and privacy regulations in the Middle East while retaining the benefits of a true-cloud solution, such as scalability, security, and continuous AI-driven software improvements.3. Advanced AI-Powered Insights: Contact center customers in the Middle East can now harness cutting-edge AI technologies to coach agents for improved performance and gain a deeper understanding of customer interactions. They can identify intricate patterns in interaction data, analyze competitors' strategies, and extract valuable AI-driven insights into customer sentiments.Calabrio’s Interaction Analytics for the Middle East is set to be generally available immediately after Ramadan, starting April 9. This strategic timing aligns with the region's business calendar, enabling organizations to seamlessly integrate this powerful AI-driven tool into their operations."Calabrio takes pride in extending its leadership in the Middle East with the introduction of Interaction Analytics," said Olle Düring, SVP Calabrio International at Calabrio. "We believe that by providing local language support and a local Middle East cloud, we can empower contact centers in the region with the advanced tools they need to enhance agent performance, understand complex customer behaviors, and ultimately drive business success."

Beyon Money SuperApp now available for UAE customers

Beyon Money, part of Beyon Group, is launching the Beyon Money SuperApp in the UAE, taking its innovative customer-focused financial services outside of the Kingdom of Bahrain, in line with the company’s ambitious regional expansion plans.With unique financial services, Beyon Money will enable UAE customers to access a range of financial solutions with exceptional digital offerings in the UAE market. Beyon Money will launch its Personal Financial Management services enabling customers to link their UAE bank accounts in the App, view all their transactions in one place, and access financial insights to observe their spending habits.Furthermore, Beyon Money’s Digital International Remittance Service is now available in the UAE allowing customers to send money internationally both from their Beyon Money app using their debit card, their WPS (Wage Protection System) card or their bank accounts. The service is available to more than 190 countries, including the UK, North and South America, Africa, EU, Asia, and within the GCC.Customers can be digitally onboarded in less than two minutes in the Beyon Money App and immediately access the range of available services through the App seamlessly. Furthermore, Beyon Money is working collaboratively with the UAE Regulators to further expand the range of products and service to be in line with those already offered successfully in Bahrain.Roberto Mancone, CEO of Beyon Money stated, “We have been sharply focussed on expanding regionally and are thrilled to announce the launch of Beyon Money for the UAE market. This is a major step forward for Beyon Money and a key milestone in our strategic plans.”“Beyon Money is committed to innovation, digitalization, and customer-centric solutions; and through the launch we look forward to offering a wider array of financial services in the UAE, and aspire to contribute towards the ongoing digitalisation of the financial services landscape in the region."Mr. Mancone added, “We appreciate the support of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) for granting the relevant licenses to Beyon Money enabling us to enter the UAE market.”

ATM establishes official partnership with ICCA and GBTA

Arabian Travel Market (ATM) has announced a strategic partnership with the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) for the upcoming edition of the event, which takes place from 6-9 May 2024 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.The renowned global organisations have been appointed as ‘Knowledge Partners’ for the regional trade show, providing in-depth insights and opportunities for the thriving segments of business events and travel.According to the ICCA statistical forecast, which charts the history and performance of the International Association Meetings Industry from 1963 to 2022, 10,602 business events were recorded worldwide last year, of which 9,009 (85%) were in-person. This represented an astounding 349% increase from the previous year when only 2,007 in-person events occurred. Interestingly, the Middle East accounted for the highest percentage of in-person delegates (94%) in last year’s official figures.The business travel industry is also experiencing significant growth, as evidenced by statistics from the 2023 GBTA Business Travel Index™ Report, which found that the global business travel industry rebounded faster than expected in 2023. Pent-up demand following the pandemic and healthier economic conditions than forecasted were highlighted as significant contributing factors for this shift. The report also stated that global business travel spending rose by 47% to $1.03 trillion last year and is expected to grow to nearly $1.8 trillion globally by 2027.Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market, said: “All of the latest research suggests that the business events and business travel sectors are going from strength to strength. These sectors have always been important verticals at ATM, and the official partnership with ICCA and GBTA for the 2024 edition will take our offering to the next level. By collaborating with these respected industry leaders, ATM aims to deliver even more value and innovation to its attendees and exhibitors.“With a focus on these two vital sectors, ATM is committed to offering a world-class event that provides a platform for networking, education, and business opportunities for professionals from around the world.”During ATM 2024, ICCA will deliver seminars covering a range of topics for the MICE industry, while GBTA will outline the prevailing trends in the business travel sector at the show. These seminars will give the industry valuable insights into recent research, innovations, and best practices.Dr Senthil Gopinath, CEO of ICCA, said: “ICCA proudly announces our collaboration with ATM as we celebrate the exciting inclusion of business events as a foundational segment in future editions. Envisaging a dynamic future, we see global business events seamlessly integrating with ATM's rich tapestry of opportunities. With ICCA joining as a Knowledge Partner for the MICE segment, we are collectively positioned to redefine the landscape of collaboration, innovation and success in the interconnected realms of business. We look forward to working together in 2024 and beyond.”Catherine Logan, Regional Senior Vice President EMEA and APAC, GBTA, added: “Although one of the smaller global business travel markets, the MEA region has huge potential for growth and recovered more than any other region in 2022, reaching 95% of pre-pandemic business travel spending. Business travel spend in the region is forecast to exceed this figure in 2023 and reach USD$30.6 million and continue its growth trajectory going forward.”The theme for the 31st edition of ATM is ‘Empowering Innovation: Transforming Travel Through Entrepreneurship’. With exhibitors from the fields of aviation, accommodation, hospitality, attractions, technology and more, ATM 2024 will explore how innovators in the travel and tourism space are working to attract greater levels of funding to further increase the sector’s overall contribution to global GDP. Last year’s event welcomed more than 40,000 attendees, the largest number recorded to date.

Way2Smile Solutions and WAN-IFRA partner to launch WIZONE Marketplace

Way2Smile Solutions, a leading provider of technology solutions, and WAN-IFRA, the World Association of News Publishers, recently announced the launch of WIZONE, a groundbreaking online marketplace designed to transform the way suppliers and buyers connect and do business in the news media industry.Bridging the Gap in News Media CommerceTraditionally, news publishers have faced challenges in sourcing the latest technologies, products, services, and solutions due to the limited availability of vendors online. WIZONE cuts through this clutter, offering a centralized platform that brings together a comprehensive range of products from reputable suppliers across the globe. From cutting-edge artificial intelligence solutions to reliable printing equipment and innovative subscription management platforms, WIZONE caters to the diverse needs of publishers of all sizes.Seamless Browsing and TransactionsThe user-friendly interface of WIZONE makes it easy for publishers to navigate and discover relevant products and services. Advanced search filters allow for quick identification of specific needs, while detailed product listings and supplier profiles provide comprehensive information for informed decision-making. Secure online transactions and transparent pricing further enhance the user experience, simplifying the entire procurement process.Features of WIZONE MarketplaceWIZONE offers a multitude of features and benefits for both suppliers and publishers:For Suppliers:Global reach: Tap into a vast network of potential buyers from across the globe, expanding your customer base and market reach.Targeted exposure: Showcase your products and services through comprehensive listings, promotional tools, and featured placements.Cost-effective solutions: Choose from a range of subscription plans to fit your budget and marketing objectives.Lead generation tools: Generate valuable leads and connect directly with interested publishers through intuitive messaging features.Market insights: Gain valuable insights into industry trends, competitor analysis, and customer preferences to optimize your offerings.For Publishers:One-stop shop: Find everything you need to run your operation, from cutting-edge technologies and software solutions to essential services and equipment.Simplified sourcing: Streamline your procurement process with intuitive search functionalities, detailed product comparisons, and direct communication with suppliers.Cost savings: Discover competitive pricing and negotiate favorable deals with a diverse pool of vendors.Innovation discovery: Stay ahead of the curve by exploring the latest advancements and solutions in the news media space.Community building: Connect with fellow publishers, share best practices, and collaborate on industry initiatives.WIZONE Marketplace represents a significant leap forward for the news and media industry, eliminating traditional barriers and creating a dynamic ecosystem where suppliers can showcase their innovative solutions and publishers can easily discover the tools and services they need.WIZONE is now live and available to all suppliers and publishers in the news media industry.

UAE introduces new media law

The UAE government has issued a federal decree-law to regulate the media sector in the country. The law aims to organise media activities in the UAE and promote its status as a global media hub, and establish an enabling environment to catalyse the growth and prosperity of the media sector.The law covers various media activities, including radio, television, newspapers, cinemas, and digital media. It allows both individuals and legal entities to own media institutions under specific regulations.Media activities encompass the production, circulation, printing, and publishing of content, including audio, video, and digital broadcasting. The law sets standards for media content, emphasizing respect for religious beliefs, the country's sovereignty, symbols, institutions, and adherence to national and international policies.Media outlets and individuals are prohibited from disseminating information that may compromise national unity, incite violence, hatred, or discord. The UAE Media Council is responsible for issuing permits for cinema screenings, advertising on social media, and overseeing various media activities.Licensed individuals and media outlets are subject to oversight and supervision by the competent authority, allowing the Council to conduct surveillance and inspections. The law aims to promote the protection of intellectual property in the media sector.Entities in the UAE have a specified period (initially twelve months) to comply with the provisions of the Decree-Law and its Executive Regulations, with the possibility of extension by a Cabinet decision. The legislation reflects the government's effort to organize and promote the media sector while ensuring compliance with ethical standards, national values, and international norms.

MENA's New Year gift: Pioneering Web3 innovation safety for crypto

Photo by André François McKenzie on UnsplashIt can be termed as the best New Year gift for the crypto industry, especially in the MENA region. In a groundbreaking move for the growing digital asset landscape in the UAE, Dubai Insurance has joined forces with Hong Kong-based OneDegree to introduce 'digital asset insurance' tailored to the high-stakes ventures prevalent in the region.This is a positive development for digital asset businesses in the UAE, especially considering the current challenges and uncertainties within the global crypto industry.The partners will initially offer commercial liability insurance, focusing on 'professional indemnity' and 'directors & officers' coverage. Pending regulatory approval, they plan to expand their portfolio to include more digital asset cover products, addressing the diverse needs of businesses operating in the UAE.OneDegree, an early adopter of digital asset insurance in Asia, has been a pioneer in providing licensed insurance for the rapidly evolving crypto landscape. Alvin Kwock, co-founder of OneDegree, highlighted how their OneInfinity products have been instrumental in supporting Web3 companies globally. He bets big on the MENA, especially the UAE, region which continues to attract leading digital asset companies.The UAE has become a thriving hub for virtual asset businesses, thanks to its business-friendly environment and stringent regulatory measures. Dubai, in particular, enforced the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) deadline for all such businesses to obtain full licensing based on their respective categories, imposing penalties for non-compliance.Interestingly, Dubai Insurance Co. had previously invested in OneDegree's Series B funding round, fostering a partnership that now places them at the forefront of global insurance innovations.Abdellatif Abuqurah, CEO of Dubai Insurance Co., said: "By working with OneDegree to bring Web3 insurance products to the market, Dubai Insurance Co. will be at the cutting edge of global insurance innovations."A welcome step<img src='\234ac3a69931c533ad36958fed294efd.png' class='content_image'>This move positions Dubai not just as a leader in Web3 adoption, but as a champion for its responsible development, said Manan Vora, SVP of Strategy & Operations at Liminal, a digital asset custody platform."While digital asset insurance is a global phenomenon, the UAE is experiencing a meteoric rise in this crucial category. Global players are drawn to the Emirates' pro-business policies and booming crypto adoption, with the highest rate worldwide as of September 2023 according to Henley & Partners. Strong economic stability and favourable tax structures also solidify the UAE's position as a Web3 heavyweight and lucrative market," said Vora.However, he adds, building a thriving ecosystem requires a safety net for these companies.Manan Vora feels that Dubai Insurance's masterstroke of launching commercial liability insurance fills this gap perfectly. According to him, this timely move injects the much-needed confidence and unlocks innovation potential, allowing digital asset firms to operate fearlessly and fuel the UAE's inspiring journey to become a Web3 global force."Beyond stability, this insurance paves the way for job creation and economic growth, benefiting the local community immensely. In conclusion, Dubai Insurance's bold step deserves applause for accelerating the UAE's trajectory towards becoming a true Web3 innovation powerhouse," says Vora.<img src='\e151f5a44a469f477cc4edeaafa13cd9.png' class='content_image'>Gracy Chen, Managing Director at Bitget, the world’s largest crypto copy trading platform, strongly believes that the Middle East will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the global digital asset industry."The sharp focus on innovation, security, and compliance has positioned the Middle East as a fertile ground for Web3 innovation which has prompted global digital asset firms to make a base in the region. The latest commercial liability insurance cover for digital asset firms in the region is a masterstroke as it will create an extra layer of safety for the entire digital asset ecosystem and prove beneficial for all the relevant stakeholders of the industry," Gracy says."As per the latest chainanalysis report, the MENA has emerged as the sixth largest crypto economy, with an estimated $389.8 billion in on-chain value received between July 2022 and June 2023. The staggering volume of digital asset trading calls for urgent protection of user funds and insulate businesses from cyber-attacks and digital predators," she adds.The Middle East and North Africa have become a global centre for the digital asset ecosystem. This move will be highly beneficial for Web3 players in the top markets in the region, including the UAE.

Qatar University and Ernst & Young forge partnership with the e-Mobility Forum

The Autonomous e-Mobility Forum (AEMOB) announces its latest partnerships promising to propel the international autonomous e-Mobility conversation to new heights.Qatar University (QU), renowned for its distinguished School of Engineering, proudly joins as Academic Partner to the Forum, taking place in Doha, Qatar from 30 April – 02 May 2024. The national university's unwavering commitment to expanding the frontiers of knowledge and its dedication to nurturing future leaders, position it as ideal partner to the Forum. As international hub for academic excellence in Qatar, QU brings a wealth of expertise and innovation to the fold, increasing the Forum's potential to help shape the future of autonomous e-Mobility globally. The collaboration aims to inspire coming generations of leaders in the rapidly evolving field of smart and sustainable transportation, an area of local and global importance and urgency.Dr. Khalid, Dean of the College of Engineering at Qatar University, remarked, "This partnership embodies our mutual aspirations for the future of mobility as we combine our expertise to devise inventive solutions and pave the way for long-lasting sustainability solutions."Ernst & Young (EY), a global firm that believes in the potential of collaboration to devise forward-thinking policies and regulations, especially in partnership with the government sector, has joined as Advisory Partner to the Autonomous E-Mobility Forum.EY’s involvement underscores its dedication to facilitating the transformation of the mobility sector and supporting new solutions that benefit societies at large.Ammar S Hattab, EY Qatar Managing Partner, says “EY is proud to be the advising partner for the Autonomous E-Mobility Forum, which aligns with our commitment to helping businesses reframe their approach to sustainability and putting it at the center of how value is created. As regional governments pledge to expand energy diversification efforts, the forum’s focus on the area of sustainable mobility space and how the current technology can be leverage for real-world solutions will help guide the conversation around research, education, implementation, and future policies.”These partnerships collectively assume a vital role for the Autonomous e-Mobility Forum 2024, with its mission to drive sustainable and intelligent mobility solutions across Qatar and beyond. These alliances signify a crucial step in establishing an integrated and environmentally friendly transportation system, aligned with Qatar National Vision 2030.The Autonomous e-Mobility Forum, taking in Doha, Qatar from 30 April – 02 May 2024, hosted and strategically partnered by the Ministry of Transport of the State of Qatar and held under the patronage of His Excellency, Jassim Saif Ahmed Al Sulaiti, Minister of Transport, is set to become the pioneering multilateral platform focusing on driverless e-Mobility, a topic of global significance and urgencyOrganized by Just us & Otto Marketing & Event Services in collaboration with InStrat, a department of 4th Dimension, the three-day event will provide a timely occasion for international stakeholders to further know-how and develop recommendations toward the implementation of autonomous e-Mobility in a real-world setting.The AEMOB Forum is set to assemble a global network of senior officials, policy and technology experts, including speakers and representatives from government, industry, academia, the media, and hundreds of attendees. Tickets are expected to go on sale in July 2023 and can be purchased through the AEMOB Forum website

Bigo Live organizes celebration of Saudi Arabia's win of Hosting 2030 World Expo

Bigo Live, the leading global livestreaming platform, is thrilled to announce an exciting livestream event on December 24th at 9 PM (KSA Time) in honor of Saudi Arabia’s win of hosting the prestigious 2030 World Expo in Riyadh. The exclusive event, hosted through the official account (Account ID: MENABC1) on the platform, aims to celebrate and share the enthusiasm surrounding Saudi Arabia's pivotal role in hosting this global spectacle.The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's recent triumph in securing the host position for the 2030 World Expo is a testament to its forward-thinking vision and unparalleled dedication to global progress. As a platform deeply embedded in fostering cultural exchange and celebrating diversity, Bigo Live is poised to elevate the excitement and anticipation surrounding this historic milestone.Embark on an engaging journey with Bigo Live to discover the richness of Saudi Arabia's culture and the innovative spirit defining the 2030 World Expo. Joining the livestream event are 4-6 Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) from Bigo Live, including the illustrious BIGO ID: Riva36990. Riva, a distinguished content creator with a verified Snapchat account boasting over 1 million followers (Snapchat ID: Rivva.9), returns to explore the essence of the 2030 World Expo. With a dedicated following on the Bigo Live app, Riva stands as the ideal guide to delve into the significance of this grand event.The livestream promises insightful discussions encompassing a range of topics: an overview of Saudi Arabia's progress, highlighting Riyadh's recent advancements, in-depth insights into the significance of the Riyadh Expo, and personal experiences about its impact. Additionally, Bigo Live will introduce an in-app trivia game during the session, offering exciting prizes for correct answers, enhancing the interactive experience for viewers.As part of the campaign, Bigo Live will curate an exclusive event page dedicated to the "2030 World Expo: Riyadh Celebrations." Users from the region will be invited to engage in captivating livestreams featuring cultural performances, traditional art displays, insightful discussions, and more. Furthermore, Bigo Live will introduce Saudi-themed virtual gifts and interactive features, urging users to actively participate and celebrate Riyadh's cultural significance.This event underscores Bigo Live's commitment to nurturing a diverse and engaging content ecosystem, further highlighted by its exclusive Saudi-centric activities. Notably, Bigo Live previously launched the Creators Incentive Program ahead of Riyadh Season 2023 in KSA, empowering broadcasters and fostering creative freedom, inclusivity, and community support.Earlier this year, Bigo Live introduced "Our Day is Saudi", a celebration honoring Saudi Arabia's National Day. The event united users across the MENA region, offering prestigious prizes and encouraging livestreaming activities, showcasing Saudi Arabia's rich culture and heritage.Join Bigo Live on December 24th for an unforgettable livestream event, celebrating Saudi Arabia's monumental achievement in hosting the 2030 World Expo. Let's embrace culture, creativity, and community on a global platform, showcasing the vibrant spirit of Saudi Arabia to the world.

Wyndham appoints Govind Mundra as new Head of Development for the ME & Africa

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest hotel franchising company with approximately 9,100 hotels across more than 95 countries, today announced Govind Mundra – the former head of development for Eurasia – as the new head of development for the Middle East and Africa. This move aligns with Wyndham’s strategy to further grow its footprint in the Middle East and in key commercial hubs and leisure destinations across Africa.Mundra’s experience spans over 21 years in hospitality development and real estate. In addition to development roles with Wyndham, Mundra has also worked for Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces for Sub-Saharan Africa. In his new role, Mundra will lead the expansion of Wyndham's portfolio in the region and oversee strategic initiatives to provide industry-leading value to owners. With a robust presence in the Middle East and Africa currently – including nearly 70 hotels– Mundra will focus on further penetrating destination cities and key markets in the Middle East and Africa.Panos Loupasis, Market Managing Director for Türkiye, Middle East & Africa, said:“We’re focused on expanding our mid-market offering in the region and reinforcing our global mission of making travel possible for all. With consistent growth in the region – including the acquisition of Vienna House, our strong pipeline in the Commonwealth of Independent States region, surpassing 100 open hotels in Türkiye and more – we’re committed to keeping our hotels ahead of the competition through the Wyndham Advantage, which provides owners with unmatched resources, distribution and purchasing power.”Govind Mundra, the newly appointed Head of Development for Middle East and Africa Region, commented, “The Middle East and Africa are regions of immense potential, and I am excited to lead the development initiatives in these vibrant markets. Having spent almost a decade with Wyndham Hotels & Resorts in the Eurasia region, I look forward to using my experience and strength in building long-lasting owner relationships to contribute to the growth of our footprint in the Middle East and Africa region.”Wyndham Hotels & Resorts makes hotel travel possible for all by providing exceptional experiences at accessible price points for travellers through company’s commitment to high-quality service, redefining the way people experience hotel stays. For development opportunities with Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, visitéal

Wavemaker MENA Announces Milestone Partnership with L'Oréal

Wavemaker MENA, part of GroupM, enters a strategic partnership with the world leader in beauty, L'Oréal, in the GCC, Levant, and Morocco. This remarkable win represents a pivotal milestone for both entities and underlines Wavemaker MENA's unwavering appetite and dedication to building media excellence in the region. Olfa Messaoudi, Chief Digital and Marketing Officerat L'Oréal Middle East, said, “We are excited to partner with Wavemaker MENA and we look forward to the possibilities that this dynamic collaboration will bring.  Wavemaker's extensive skills and innovative mindset in the region align seamlessly with our purpose of creating the beauty that moves the world. Together, we aim to make a sustainable impact on the media global beauty industry and continue our marketing transformation journey into a beauty tech powerhouse.”Marc Ghosn, Regional Managing Director at Wavemaker MENA, stated, “With everything we do, we lead with Positive Provocation. We’re Wavemakers, and we’re here to make change happen. During the pitch, our team of disrupters demonstrated their attitude, expertise and state-of-the-art tools and tech to leverage better results. We look forward to showcasing our abilities with L'Oréal.”Amer ElHajj, CEO at GroupM MENA, remarked, "Our ongoing investments in cutting-edge tools, talent and tech across the entire group and our agencies are yielding impactful results. The win of L'Oréal stands as a testament to the success derived from these strategic investments and Wavemaker’s undeniable power in their mantra of Positive Provocation." This strategic alliance positions Wavemaker MENA as the key player in shaping ‘Next Era’ media for L’Oréal across the MENA region. Together, L'Oréal and Wavemaker are primed to leverage their collective strengths to innovate and elevate their presence in the dynamic beauty and cosmetics market.

Five-year-old girl holds Guinness World Record for youngest publisher

A young Emirati girl, Alfai Al Marzooqi, has achieved the incredible feat of becoming the youngest female to publish a book, as recognized by the Guinness World Records. Alfai, at just five years old, is a Grade 1 student at Brighton College Abu Dhabi.Her book, titled 'The Lost Rabbit,' explores themes of friendship among children, compassion, love for animals, and caring for one another. What adds a special touch to the story is that the character Salma, one of the protagonists, is her real-life friend and classmate.Alfai's passion for storytelling emerged early on, noticed by her mother Teeb Al Barri when Alfai was only two years old. Rather than being drawn to TV or tablets like other children, Alfai was focused on books, asking thought-provoking questions about the world around her.The speed at which Alfai completed her book is remarkable, taking just three days to write, draw, and color the entire story. Her parents have been supportive of her dreams, with her mother noting that Alfai aspires to be an international fashion designer, drawing inspiration from her love of reading and storytelling. The family has even launched the 'Tell and Tale' brand to showcase Alfai's unique fashion pieces.Alfai's father, Yaqoub Al Marzooqi, expressed immense pride in his daughter's achievements. The family's commitment to fostering talent extends to Alfai's four-year-old brother, Hamad Al Marzooqi, who is aiming to set a Guinness Record for the youngest Emirati chef and entrepreneur in the children's category.Burjeel Hospital, where Alfai was born, played a crucial role in facilitating the publication of her book and the subsequent recognition by Guinness World Records. The hospital celebrated Alfai's achievement with a vibrant ceremony, including book reading and signing sessions, a magic show, face painting, dancing, and more.The Emirates Heritage Club, along with doctors and senior officials from Burjeel Hospital, presented Alfai with the certificate for the 'Youngest Person to Publish a Book (Female).' The hospital expressed its pride in supporting Alfai's global achievement.Eminent Emirati writer Mariam Nasser and officials of the Emirates Heritage Club praised Alfai's accomplishment during the ceremony. Dr. Sausan Abdul Rahman, the consultant of obstetrics and gynecology who performed Teeb's delivery, also congratulated Alfai, expressing her pride in the young author's achievements.Alfai is already working on her next book, titled 'The Lost Cat,' demonstrating her passion for animals. The book is available in both Arabic and English and can be purchased from Alfai's online platform and social media channels. The story exemplifies the support and encouragement provided by Alfai's family, school, and community in nurturing her exceptional talent from a very young age.

IBPC hosts its signature event Retail Conclave 2023

The Indian Business and Professional Council hosted its signature event Retail Conclave 2023 at the Anantara Hotel Downtown on Thursday, 14 December 2023.The topic of the event was Digital Transformation and Sustainability in Retail. The event was timely, coming as it did on the heels of COP 28, where a landmark UAE ‘Consensus on Climate Change’ was adopted by nearly 200 countries. Extending this to the retail sector is important, and indeed essential, as this is the sector that sees the most interaction between us as consumers and the millions of products and services that we seek daily. No other sector comes close, which underlines the importance of sustainability in retail.Mr Suresh Kumar, Chairman IBPC, welcomed the gathering and in his key note address narrated about digital transformation where sustainability is no longer simply an option, it is a strategic imperative for retail success.H.E Shri Satish Kumar Sivan, Consul General of India in Dubai addressed the conclave by emphasizing the intersection of digital innovation and sustainability will determine the future of retail.Special Guest of Honor, H.E. Dr. Mohammed Al Kindi, former UAE Minister of Environment and Water addressed how Digital transformation is empowering retailers not only to optimize operations but also to champion sustainable practices that resonate with conscious consumers; it is a commitment to leveraging digital advancements for a greener, more responsible industry going forwardThe Event was curated by Retail and ecommerce focus group of IBPC Dubai, led by Dr. Sahitya Chaturvedi along with Shajan Abraham and Gautam Sengupta that acknowledged a significant representation of thought leaders of Retail, Supply Chain, Technology, Banks, Finance and government sectors of India and UAE.Representing the Indian diaspora, IBPC Dubai honored Dubai customs represented by H.E. Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director General of Dubai Customs, CEO of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation for Retail Facilitation in all the aspects of doing business in Dubai.Thanking for the honor, Director General of Dubai customs mentioned the digital developments and benchmarking the quick and timely processing systems for ease of business. HE Ahmed Mahboob attended the full session and appreciated the panel discussion moderated by Dr. Sahitya Chaturvedi, the convenor of IBPC and Accounts head of Ajmal Perfumes.The conclave awarded the retail recognitions to next gen CEO of Ajmal Perfumes Group, Abdulla Ajmal, Chairman of famous jewelry brand Joy Alukkas and the director of LULU GROUP INTERNATIONAL for their pathbreaking work in the retail sector.Presenting the social economic facts and digital transformation, Dr. Sahitya mentioned the statistics that 83% of UAE consumers are more likely to shop with retailers that use technology to improve the customer experience he further highlighted the growth contribution of Dubai in entire GCC and opportunities unveiled by D33, the vision of doubling the size of Dubai economy to AED 32 trillion with the growth drivers of digital economy and going green and sustainable.These thoughts were echoed by Prof. Adil Matin, President of WeTel Center for Sustainability followed by a panel discussion with very high senior officials from the retail industry including Vikas Chadha, CEO, Jumbo Electronics; Rajiv Warrier, CEO, T Choithram & Sons; MVK Vijaykumar, Director for Digital Transformation at EY; Joseph Eapen, MEA Head at Asian Paints; Ashish Panjabi, COO, Jacky’s Electronics; Prateek Vahie, Chief Commercial Officer of WIO Bank who shed the light on the challenges and benefits to organizations from their involvement in digital transformation, and also on imperatives and progress on sustainability in retail. Ably moderated by Dr. Sahitya Chaturvedi, IBPC Convener for Retail and eCommerce.The meeting concluded with a vote of thanks by Gautam Sen Gupta, member of the Organizing Committee, expressing gratitude for the participation of speakers, panelists, the audience and sponsors of the event.IBPC has conducted over 70 events in 2023. This retail conclave promises to be a fitting final event as we approach the new year, informative, educative, and essential.

ZIRA expands global presence with new Riyadh office

ZIRA, a pioneering force in the telecom industry for business support systems, has announced the establishment of its new company and office in Riyadh. With over 27 years of industry expertise and a constant commitment to innovation, ZIRA is expanding its international footprint into the heart of the Middle East, solidifying its presence in Saudi Arabia as a strategic move in its global expansion strategy.The new venture represents a significant milestone for ZIRA, underlining the company’s unwavering dedication to delivering cutting-edge telecommunications solutions and services to the Saudi Arabian market. This expansion signifies ZIRA’s deep-rooted commitment to fostering stronger relationships with customers and partners in the region, catering to the evolving needs of the telecommunications sector.ZIRA, headquartered in Bosnia and Herzegovina and with established offices in the UAE, the Netherlands, Croatia, Türkiye, and the US, has continually demonstrated excellence in providing innovative technology solutions that empower communication service providers worldwide. The expansion into Saudi Arabia marks a pivotal moment in the company’s history, showcasing its relentless pursuit of global growth and market leadership.“We are thrilled to announce the launch of our company in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which represents a significant step in our global expansion strategy,” said Emir Bukvic, CEO at ZIRA. “This strategic move reinforces our commitment to serving our valued customers and partners in Saudi Arabia while enhancing our presence in the dynamic Middle Eastern market. We are excited about the opportunities this expansion brings and look forward to fostering stronger relationships while delivering innovative business support systems.”ZIRA’s expansion into Saudi Arabia reflects the company’s dedication to driving technological advancements and creating transformative solutions that empower telecommunications businesses worldwide. The establishment of the Riyadh office cements ZIRA’s position as a front-runner in the industry, committed to delivering industry-leading award-winning solutions for its customers.

Create Group appoints five key senior executives for strengthening leadership

Create Group, the reigning 'Digital Agency of the Year' in the Middle East, has announced the strategic appointment of five accomplished professionals to key senior positions. These additions to the senior team are a pivotal step in aligning the agency's capabilities with its dynamic growth goals and elevating its services to new industry standards.Kim Jerbo, Executive Creative Director: With an illustrious decade-long career, Kim Jerbo brings a wealth of experience to his role. His achievements, including prestigious Cannes Lions awards, speak volumes about his creative prowess. Kim has previously led groundbreaking campaigns for industry giants such as Google and Nike. His tenure as the APAC Creative Director at Media.Monks in Sydney, Australia, further underscores his ability to drive innovative and impactful creative initiatives.Christian Loos, Talent and Leadership Development Director: Christian Loos, a seasoned professional with over 20 years in global marketing spanning Melbourne, London, and Dubai, assumes the role of Talent and Leadership Development Director. Armed with a PhD in Neuroscience and Executive Leadership Coaching Certification from INSEAD, Christian aims to revolutionize Create's recruitment strategies. His vision includes establishing a 'Centre of Excellence' dedicated to the development of management and leadership skills.Alessandro Candotti, Social Director: Alessandro Candotti, the newly appointed Social Director, brings a wealth of expertise in social strategy and execution from his tenure at Havas Middle East and GTB Middle East. His outstanding contributions have earned recognition at prestigious industry awards, including Effies, Dubai Lynx, and Clios. Alessandro is poised to enhance Create's social media presence and engagement strategies.Romain Colomer, Experience Director: As the Experience Director, Romain Colomer leverages over a decade of experience in driving large-scale Customer Experience (CX) transformations. Romain has previously worked with renowned brands such as NEOM, Nike, and His focus on insight-driven digital experiences and his commitment to envisioning the future of technology-infused storytelling make him a valuable asset to Create's team.Hisham Jafar, Head of Data Insights and AI: Hisham Jafar, an expert in the data domain, assumes the role of Head of Data Insights and AI. Drawing from his extensive experience at IBM and AstraZeneca, where he served as Head of AI & Data Products, Hisham brings a wealth of knowledge in scaling products from startups to industry adoption. His expertise spans life sciences, FinTech, and renewable energy. With a strong background in strategy and data science, Hisham is poised to lead Create's ongoing data-driven transformation.Create Group looks forward to the collective impact of these strategic appointments as it continues to push boundaries and set new standards in the digital agency landscape in the Middle East.

Metric launches integration with banks in the UAE

Metric, an AI-based financial intelligence app for small- and medium-sized businesses, has announced their integration with banks in the UAE. This integration will enable Metric users to connect their bank accounts to the app and automate their finances, saving them time, and eliminating the hassle of manual data entry.“Making business decisions blindsighted is a thing of the past. Now, businesses are becoming more and more data driven. While this holds true for larger corporations, there has been a missing piece in the puzzle when it comes to the small and medium sized businesses.” said Meenah. “Metric aims to equip small businesses with the right tools to harness data driven decision-making and this integration is a big leap in that direction.” she added.The integration empowers Metric users with the following new capabilities:Automated data entry:“Manual data entry is one of the biggest pain points for founders of small and medium sized businesses.” said Omar, the CPO of Metric. This integration solves that challenge at the root. Metric automatically enters income and expense data from your connected bank account, eliminating the need for manual data entry.Quick data sync:Metric allows you to quickly sync your financial data. The moment you send or receive money through your bank, your transactions will be displayed in Metric. This enables founders to always have an up-to-date view of their finances.Bank balance tracking:Founders want to be on top of their numbers these days. They can now do it by keeping an eye on their bank balance in real time and drive decisions accordingly.Instant Bank Reconciliation:The integration will help reconcile business finances with the bank accounts instantly. This will eliminate the long cycle time of reconciliation and always show accurate financial data."We are super excited to announce this integration as it will be a game changer, especially for small and medium sized businesses.," said Meenah Tariq, the CEO of Metric. "This integration is a major step forward in our mission to empower businesses to automate their finances. By providing our users with real-time financial data and insights, we’ve taken another leap towards helping business owners make better decisions and grow their businesses more efficiently."The integration process is incredibly swift, taking less than three minutes, and your financial data will begin to flow. The integration is live in the Metric for all users. You can download Metric from the google play store and integrate your bank in minutes.

Flormar unveils revamped brand identity and 2030 vision during global launch

Flormar, the renowned international makeup brand, presented its refreshed brand identity and unveiled its ambitious 2030 vision at an international launch event held in Dubai. Following a successful debut in Turkey, where the brand revealed significant updates featuring a new logo, revamped visuals, packaging, and store designs, Flormar's latest slogan, "HAPPINESS IS YOUR COLOR," was introduced in Dubai. This milestone event also marked the appointment of Zeynep Bastk, a celebrated singer, as the brand's newest ambassador.Flormar's commitment to spreading joy extends beyond aesthetic changes; the brand aims to uplift the mood of makeup lovers globally with high-performance colored cosmetic products at happy prices. Operating in over 70 countries through 30,000 sales points, Flormar's transformative journey, evident in its logo, packaging, visuals, and store designs over the past year, aligns with its new slogan and vision.The launch event provided a platform for Flormar to share its 2030 vision with international business partners. Notably, the brand's officials highlighted the positive reception of the new brand identity by partners from key regions, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Iraq, and Pakistan. These regions, where Flormar enjoys significant brand awareness and presence, are anticipated to play a pivotal role in the brand's continued growth.During the gathering, Flormar recognized its UAE business partner for 12 years, Multiplex International LLC, led by CEO Vinod Adnani, who is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The team received accolades, including the "Highest LFL Sales Growth Rate" and "Best Presentation in Wholesale" awards, underscoring their successful collaboration.

Natasha Hatherall: Empowering women and redefining PR in the heart of Dubai

TishTash Communications, an award-winning specialist communications and public relation agency focusing on beauty, health, and wellness, is a well-established name and a prominent player in the field of public relations in Dubai. Founded in 2012 by Natasha Hatherall and Managing Director & Partner Polly Williams, the brand has gained recognition for its commitment to advocating for women in the workplace and supporting working mothers. TishTash stands out as a workplace that is exclusively tailored to meet the needs of women. The founders believe in showcasing the impact of addressing women's needs and emphasize that when women's requirements are fulfilled, they not only thrive but also stand on equal footing with their male counterparts.Natasha Hatherall, referring to herself as an 'accidental entrepreneur,' serves as the Founder and CEO of TishTash Communications. She sheds light on the brand's journey and its success as a leading independent PR and integrated marketing agency in the region. With a team of over 60 members and offices in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and the UK, TishTash has firmly established itself as a key player in the industry. Excerpts:Can you share your journey, starting as a PR professional, leading to your role as the Founder of TishTash Communications?Born and educated in the UK, I spent the first part of my career in academia, studying firstly for a degree in Psychology, followed by a Masters in Marketing, before combining my love of both into a PhD in Management with a focus on consumer behaviour. Whilst working as a graduate, teaching in the university and after a lot of soul searching, I decided I didn’t wish to pursue an academic career. I made my first turn into the marketing, media and PR world in the UK working at agencies including Havas and McCann Worldwide and client side for major global brands such as L’Oreal, and I never really looked back. The corporate world was definitely for me.I had always wanted to live and work abroad and this is what brought me to Dubai in 2010. I worked in a brilliant marketing and comms role at Abu Dhabi Media Group for 2 years, before leaving to freelance for a while with the aim of having more work/life balance, practicing yoga and seeing more of the world.Life had other plans though and TishTash Communications was born. 12 years on we are going very strong as one of the leading independent PR and integrated marketing agencies in the region with over 60 team members and offices in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the UK. We’ve won lots of great awards, been recognized formally as a “Great Place to Work” this year and I’m proud of the brilliant work we produce for our clients every day.Not bad for the girl who planned to freelance and go to yoga!What motivated you to establish TishTash Communications? What is your vision for the organisation and where do you see it five years from now?I definitely consider myself an ‘accidental entrepreneur’ – someone who literally never intended to start a traditional business, and by traditional I mean with a group of employees, office space and differing streams of income. It’s very different to being a ‘solopreneur’ – which is really what I intended for myself when I left my last full time role.That said, I also believe that everything happens for a reason and clearly this is where I was meant to be and perhaps I am more of an entrepreneur and business leader than I ever gave myself credit for. My business is 12 years old now and it’s far bigger than anything I could have imagined or planned, but I very much feel like I’ve found my purpose and passion in life during this time.Going solo and working for myself, followed by the quick establishment of TishTash, always came from a desire to do quality good work, to provide the best of big brand and agency experience at more affordable rates to those who could not afford big agency prices and ultimately to raise the standards of communications that I saw at that time. That is something that very much remains at the heart of all we do today.Also very accidentally due to the nature of the work we do and the fact we ended up employing women only, myself and my MD and partner Polly Williams became advocates in this area and voices for women at work and working mothers. To support our workforce, we celebrated our differences and designed a workplace catered purely to women’s needs to demonstrate the power in doing this and how when women’s needs are met, that they flourish and stand very equally with their male counterparts.As for the future, I can’t say for sure, but we’re committed to leading the way for women in the workforce as well as for communications and we’re known for being agile, keeping it fresh and doing new and innovative things as an agency, so definitely expect more of that as there is lots I still want to do and achieve.We’re part of an industry that can’t sit still and we’ve had such monumental changes in the past 5 years, that I expect this development to continue in the years ahead, but I hope that we have truly consolidated our learnings and rapid recent expansion into continuing to offer a mature, fully integrated multimedia communications offering to our global clients.Could you provide insights into the brands that have collaborated with TishTash?We have the pleasure of working with some of the most renowned names in beauty, health and wellness from across the globe alongside inspirational homegrown brands and powerful founders and entrepreneurs. We currently work with over 100 companies and brands at TishTash, with some of our key agency clients including: LUSH, ASICS, The Body Shop, Victoria's Secret, Boots The Pharmacy, Eucerin, Kibsons and DrinkDry. Many more work with us on all facets of comms campaigning, from traditional PR through to event design and activation, influencer strategy, exhibitions and own brand events to social media content and execution via our own TishTash Studios. I’m especially proud of the long term relationships we form with clients and we still have clients we started out with 12 years ago and many more who have been with us 8 or 9 years.What are the five major trends you have observed in the PR industry?Digital-first - Over 80% at least of your earned media coverage will be online. It is no longer ‘secondary’ and basing all campaign planning around that is vital.Visual assets - No longer simply an image to accompany an article, a video in itself is a campaign - like digital first, think visual first, as a storytelling strategy and not just a pretty picture.Affiliates and e-commerce–These go hand in hand and many outlets only work with affiliates for product placement now and this will become even more common in the months and years ahead as our market plays catch up in this area.Own media outlets - As traditional ones dwindle, we will see more and more verticals from agencies and other businesses who choose to become their own distributors.Do you think the PR sector tends to attract more women, and if so, what might be the reasons behind this trend?There is a cliche in the old ‘PR Girl’ trope and certainly there are many women in our industry, but there are also a lot of men working in the industry too.PR is accepted as one of the most stressful industries to work in globally, so it certainly should never be seen as an ‘easy’ or glamorous option for anyone.In the Middle East, we certainly see many big agencies led and staffed by men, but equally, it does attract and retain many women at a junior and entry level.Longer working hours and unpredictable or seasonal workloads are not particularly friendly for those who have caring responsibilities, so we do absolutely see a drop off across the industry for women at different life stages and as such we’re lacking women in comms at a senior and board level, as are the majority of industries.Equality and diversification in skill set at leadership level certainly needs to see more women in major roles in the PR sector. Women do tend to hold a higher level of ‘soft skills’ quite naturally, and PR certainly demands a high level of emotional intelligence and social skills that women are naturally adept at.You have been a great supporter of female entrepreneurs. In what ways are you helping in female entrepreneurship in the Middle East? How do you view women's empowerment in the region?There is nowhere like the Middle East for women’s empowerment in my opinion. The federal and governmental support is brilliant, and there are learning, networking and support opportunities available daily. TishTash Communications is powered by women - our entire staff are female and we are now at over 60 employees.As a female entrepreneur myself, I understand intrinsically the opportunities and challenges of starting and running a business in the Middle East. Representation is important, and of course, visibility of others doing the same, especially those in the start up phase, and I will always do my utmost to support and promote them. I am vocal in my support via my own media work and social media, and many of our agency clients are female founders and their brands. This was most necessary for us during the months of the pandemic where businesses needed this support more than ever, and TishTash offered a number of formal initiatives to address their needs.Globally, women essentially receive less opportunities and funding than men, so we owe it to the greater good to help each other. Aside from the facets of business, I strongly believe that we have to address some fundamental basics in the workplace to allow women to fulfill their potential, and we can no longer ignore lifestyle constraints that influence our productivity and wellbeing.What advice would you offer to individuals, both men and women, aspiring to become leaders in the PR sector?Put people first: This works two ways - client services and employee wellbeing. Know them and understand their challenges and strengths as this leads to better engagement and retention all around - and better work.Stay agile: The market is changing almost daily at the moment, staying on top of it will help you navigate both the media and consumer landscape.Put collaboration over competition: Keep a clear vision and mission for your business and stay on that path. Every agency has their own USP’s and there are plenty of clients and specialisms to go ‘round. Keeping friendly and approachable to your peers means that you always have allies who will be keen to support you if you need it.Lead by example not by ego: Never expect anyone to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself if the job needed doing.User-generated content: As ‘influencer fatigue’ sets in, genuine customer content is a vital preponement and endorsement for social media campaigns - consumers want and demand authenticity.

Danube and SkyBlue Media's Reflective Bus Ads Light Up Dubai's Streets

SkyBlue Media, the award-winning strategic media agency and a leading out-of-home (OOH) marketing entity announces its strategic collaboration with Danube, one of the largest and most reputable property developers in the UAE. This partnership marks a significant milestone for SkyBlue as it takes on the innovative venture of branding Danube Properties through an unparalleled Reflective Sticker Bus Advertising Campaign.SkyBlue Media joins Danube Properties, the property development arm of Danube Group stands as one of the top 5 developers in the UAE, celebrated for its timely delivery of high-quality assets and remarkable sales success.This innovation is designed to address the need for high visibility of bus advertising during the evening and night hours. The focus of this collaboration lies in the groundbreaking Reflective Sticker Bus Advertising Campaign designed by SkyBlue Media for Danube’s Properties which has transformed the landscape of bus advertising in Dubai by introducing a new dimension to OOH advertising. SkyBlue media has created Bus Advertising campaigns to promote Danube’s ongoing projects- Sportz by Danube and Eleganz by Danube on a total of 36 buses, of which 18 buses have reflective stickers to promote Eleganz Danube. Besides this campaign, SkyBlue Media has executed other campaigns for Danube, which involve creative ad campaigns on 400 bus shelters to promote their ongoing real estate projects.Speaking about this exciting venture, Dato Manikandamurthy Velayoudam, Managing Director of SkyBlue Media said, "We are thrilled to embark on this strategic collaboration with Danube, a stalwart in the UAE's real estate landscape. Our Reflective Sticker Bus Advertising Campaign not only showcases the brilliance of Danube's real estate ventures but also places a strong emphasis on enhancing visibility in low-light conditions during evening and night hours. This innovative venture represents a fusion of creativity and functionality, setting a new benchmark in OOH advertising. We look forward to elevating Danube's brand presence and making a lasting impact in the realm of OOH marketing."The reflective ad campaign for buses traveling through the city exemplifies the future of bus advertising, setting a new standard for dynamic and environmentally conscious campaigns. For SkyBlue Media, this execution represents a strategic move to redefine outdoor advertising by offering unique opportunities for advertisers to differentiate themselves, achieve enhanced visibility, and create interactive advertising. SkyBlue Media holds the distinction of having a lineup of more innovative offerings for the region in bus media, positioning it as a frontrunner in advancing OOH advertising in the UAE.Commenting on its brand new partnership with SkyBlue, Madhusudan Rao, CEO, Danube Group said, “The Reflective Sticker Bus Advertising Campaign, a brainchild of SkyBlue, not only redefines bus advertising in Dubai but also amplifies our brand presence with a creative and safety-conscious approach. We look forward to the continued success of this collaboration, showcasing Danube's ongoing projects such as Sportz by Danube and Eleganz by Danube to a wider audience through this unique and visually striking campaign."In line with Danube's commitment to sustainable practices, the reflective stickers used in this campaign are designed to be durable, weather-resistant, and eco-friendly. This aligns seamlessly with SkyBlue's vision of providing sustainable advertising solutions that set a new standard for dynamic and environmentally conscious campaigns.

Etihad and Maldivian announce exciting interline partnership

 Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, and Maldivian have unwrapped an early Christmas present for customers by announcing a strategic bilateral interline partnership, unlocking access to 16 dream holiday destinations in the Maldives beyond the main island of Malé.The agreement between Etihad and Maldivian, the national airline of the Maldives, means guests can now seamlessly navigate across the Indian Ocean archipelago, enjoying the combined services and networks of both carriers on a single ticket. Etihad's Chief Revenue Officer, Arik De said: "This interline will elevate the overall customer experience across the entire journey. Guests bound for the Maldives will enjoy the privilege of arriving at their popular holiday destinations with greater ease. Facilitated by smooth connections from Malé, Etihad customers can easily transition to Maldivian’s services, reaching a wide range of domestic destinations to begin their idyllic island retreat."Maldivian’s General Manager Commercial, Ibrahim Hamdhan Mohamed said: “In an effort to expand Maldivian’s reach globally, this interline partnership with Etihad Airways will open exciting opportunities for our valued customers to connect and travel seamlessly within our strong and growing route network of destinations across the Maldives.”Etihad customers can access destinations on Maldivian’s network, which serves many popular islands, via Velana International Airport, Malé, including: Dharavandhoo Island (DRV), Faresmathoda Airport (FMT), Funadhoo Airport (FND), Fuvahmulak Island Airport (FVM), Gan Island Airport (GAN), Kooddoo Island (GKK), Hanimaadhoo Island Airport (HAQ), Kulhudhuffushi Airport (HDK), Hoarafushi Airport (HRF), Kaadedhdhoo Island Airport (KDM), Kadhdhoo Island (KDO), Madivaru Airport (LMV), Maafaru International Airport (NMF), Maavarulu Airport (RUL), Thimarafushi Airport (TMF), and Ifuru (IFU).Etihad is set to increase the frequency of its flights to Malé to connect with the Maldivian network from 10 to 14 a week starting on 1 January, 2024.The agreement also makes it even easier for customers to combine their dream break in the Maldives with an exciting stopover in Abu Dhabi, savouring the legendary hospitality and remarkable attractions of the UAE’s capital.The interline agreement with Maldivian is just the latest in Etihad’s expanding network of partnerships with airlines worldwide, delivering enhanced connectivity and convenience for its guests.

Jaggaer appoints Troy S. Meyers as Chief Customer Officer

JAGGAER, the global leader in Autonomous Commerce, has appointed Troy S. Meyers as its new Chief Customer Officer. For the past seven years, Meyers, a senior executive with experience in global SaaS and Fortune 500 organisations, has managed customer success with B2B IT SaaS companies, most notably Azalea Health in Atlanta, Georgia.“Troy is a visionary leader adept at defining and executing strategies to transform and scale customer success ecosystems, drive growth and improve client engagement, adoption, loyalty and value. As such, he is a valuable addition to our leadership team, but more importantly, to the broader JAGGAER customer and partner community,” said Andy Hovancik, CEO, JAGGAER.Meyers is a Certified Customer Success Manager and Certified Customer Experience Professional. He also holds professional qualifications in Program and Portfolio Management, Six Sigma and Net Promoter Score, among others. He is a popular speaker at executive conferences on various topics, including client and employee success. Meyers gained an MBA in MIS and eCommerce from Georgia State University and a BSc in Computer Engineering from the University of Louisville.“JAGGAER is a fantastic company in a sector whose importance has grown enormously in recent years as companies have struggled to stay on top of supply chain disruptions, inflation and a fast-changing regulatory environment, among other challenges. I’m looking forward to engaging with the JAGGAER community, better understanding their pain points, and helping them along their journey,” Meyers said.

Emirates NBD announces partnership with Hub71 to accelerate FinTech innovation

 Emirates NBD, a leading banking group in the MENAT (Middle East, North Africa and Türkiye) region, has announced a partnership with Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem, Hub71, to empower customers with cutting-edge FinTech solutions and drive a new era of advanced banking services.As a leading local bank with regional and international operations, Emirates NBD's alliance with Hub71 opens doors to an array of possibilities that include expanding market reach to Abu Dhabi and introducing innovative financial solutions that cater to evolving customer needs, strengthening the bank's commitment to driving industry-wide advancements.Abdulla Qassem, Group Chief Operating Officer at Emirates NBD, said: “As a leading local bank that has always been committed to driving innovation in the region, Emirates NBD leads the future of banking to enhance financial prosperity for its customers, people and communities. This collaboration marks a significant step towards elevating customer experiences as Emirates NBD Bank harnesses the entrepreneurial spirit of Hub71 to offer tailored solutions and streamlined services for our valued customers.”Hub71 has onboarded more than 260 startups, which have collectively raised nearly AED 5 billion since its inception in 2019.[1] The global tech ecosystem provides the world’s most promising startups with incentives, programs and access to a vibrant community with a network of more than 140 local and regional corporate, government and investment partners to support their development and growth from Abu Dhabi to international markets. The UAE leads the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) FinTech market, reaching a record-high investment of USD 2.5 billion in 2022.[2]Ahmad Ali Alwan, Deputy CEO of Hub71, commented: “At Hub71, we champion the growth of innovative startups scaling technology applications that can transform the future of finance and other sectors. Our partnership with Emirates NBD will pave the way for startups to validate products, secure commercial deals, and receive expert mentorship. By partnering with one of the UAE’s most progressive banks, we are creating a powerful combination for FinTech startups pursuing growth.” The UAE is a frontrunner in the global FinTech landscape, exhibiting remarkable growth potential, following significant innovation in digital banking, wealth management, remittances and payments.

Zendy launches ZAIA, a domain-specific AI assistant

 AI-powered research library, Zendy, announced the launch of its AI Assistant, ZAIA, a domain-specific Large Language Model (LMM) developed by Zendy’s data science team.ZAIA (short for Zendy AI Assistant) exists to help researchers quickly understand key research concepts and discover research papers that specifically link to inputs. These two functions enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the literature review process.You can ask any research-related question, and ZAIA will analyse millions of academic research papers to give you credible answers backed by references.Unlike general-purpose language models, ZAIA is trained with Zendy’s own data. In the future, it can also query, in real-time, additional sources from publisher data that are not available on the public domain.There is growing recognition of the necessity for domain-specific solutions to strengthen the credibility of data. Fine tuning models on domain-specific data narrows down the LLM’s focus to improve performance in a defined context, thus reducing the likelihood of hallucinations.“We developed ZAIA to advance the usage of AI on research platforms and improve the research discovery process for researchers. ZAIA aims to assist readers on Zendy by quickly solving research-related questions. ZAIA stands out from other AI products as it is fed real-time data and information available on Zendy, which is then fine-tuned to efficiently cater to our users,” said Zendy’s Head of Technology, Rodrigo Pinto.“The first iteration of our LLM, ZAIA, is our unique AI offering for Zendy users who can now leverage the best of AI to improve their research discovery process. This is a very exciting milestone for Zendy and we look forward to the feedback from our valued users,” said Zendy Co-founder Kamran Kardan.Committed to helping foster an ecosystem of collaborative partnerships rooted in responsible AI practices, Zendy’s Large Language Model is built to be entirely customisable. It has the capacity to learn from diverse datasets with integration made simple through Restful API’s or Websocket APIs.“Bigger picture, our technology presents limitless potential for organisations and institutions yet to integrate the power of LLMs into their workflows. The potential is immeasurable, with use cases including on-demand tutoring, psychology support services, employee onboarding, the list goes on,” continued Kamran Kardan.

AlUla hosts first-ever regional E-Sport Drone Champions league super final

The Royal Commission for AlUla, in collaboration with strategic partners Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones and the Saudi E-Sports Federation, announced today the hosting of the Drone Champions League Super Final 2023, the first event of its kind to be hosted in the ancient city of AlUla. The event represents a milestone in AlUla’s ambition to becoming a global destination for E-Sports and Drone Gaming industry, infusing the heart of the modern drone racing world with an essence of ancient charm.The event is organised by DCL Drone Champions League, the technical organiser of the event, and is set to take place on the 20th of December 2023. The Super Final flagship event of DCL promises to reveal the most extraordinary display of skill, innovation, and technology in a stunning setting of AlUla's Old Town, which has been recognised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) as one of the world’s Best Tourism Villages in 2022.Rami AlMoallim, Vice President of Destination Management and Marketing at the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), expressed his excitement, stating, "We are thrilled to welcome the DCL Drone Champions League Super Final 2023 to AlUla, along with our strategic partners at the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones and the Saudi E-Sports Federation. AlUla has always been a place for gathering on the old Incense Trading Route, with 7000 years of continuous human civilisations, and we are committed to showcasing the beauty of AlUla to the world once again with various innovative activities and hosting unforgettable events.”Yaser Alosaimi, Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones spokesperson said, “With this collaboration to host the DCL Super Final in AlUla, one of the most prominent destinations in the region, we are advancing Saudi Arabia's ambitions to be one of the leading nations in drone racing sport and in technical fields and aligning with global standards. By enhancing our national capabilities, we are actively progressing towards a more advanced future for all.”Faisal Bin Homran, Chief Esports officer at Saudi Esports Federation said, “Hosting DCL Super Final in AlUla is an extension to our deep commitment towards making the kingdom a global hub for gaming and esports industry, and this innovative event is an important milestone that will reshape the future of Esports In the kingdom and fostering a new era of excellence within the field.”Markus Stampfer, Chairman of the Board of DCL Drone Champions League, added, "The Super Final 2023 in AlUla will not only showcase the incredible skill and innovation of our competing teams but also highlight the beauty and cultural significance of this extraordinary location. We are committed to working closely with local authorities and stakeholders to ensure that this event benefits the AlUla community and promotes sustainable tourism in the region."The event marks the first Super Final ever held in a GCC country, which will not only showcase the historical significance of AlUla, the ancient city that is home to Hegra, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Saudi Arabia, but will also add to its thrilling roster of annual sports events.Furthermore, it signifies unprecedented growth and unveils a wealth of opportunities within the E-Sports sector in AlUla and Saudi Arabia at large. The event is set to raise interest from the local population, setting the stage for enduring collaborations that are poised to reshape the landscape of E-Sports in the region for years to come.DCL Super Final 2023 is set to captivate audiences in AlUla at the Old Town Amphitheatre. This unique event blends physical and virtual elements, with pilots stationed in AlUla but maneuvering their drones virtually within the amphitheater. The colossal screen at the venue promises a real-time spectacle for onlookers. The event will spotlight AlUla, enticing both local communities and drone/e-game enthusiasts nationwide and across the GCC to partake in this thrilling convergence of technology and sport.While no physical drones will be flying in AlUla, it will be a chance for drone sports enthusiasts to enjoy the stunning and diverse landscapes of AlUla, varying between golden canyons, lush green oases or spectacular geological marvels. It's an event that will not only showcase the scenic natural beauty of AlUla but also decide the World Champion of Drone Racing. The convergence of technology, athleticism, and AlUla’s vision for sports and adventure will make this Super Final a truly exceptional and unforgettable experience.The Drone Champions League Super Final 2023 marks the inaugural event from the world of E-Sports and drone racing sports to be introduced into the AlUla Moments Calendar of events and festivals. The event promises both visitors and E-Sports enthusiasts to immerse themselves in a fresh and exciting experience amidst the vibrant cultural tapestry of AlUla.éant-launches-its-first-hypermarket-in-sharjah-at-sahara-centre

Géant launches its first hypermarket in Sharjah at Sahara Centre

 Géant, part of GMG, a retail giant known for its commitment to excellence and ease, is all set for its debut in Sharjah with the grand opening of its hypermarket at Sahara Centre on 15 December 2023. The 53rd store of GMG’s Everyday Goods – Retail division marks a significant step for the brand, bringing seamless shopping experiences that combine quality, affordability, and convenience.As the first Géant hypermarket in Sharjah, the store strategically positions itself to cater to the diverse needs of families and residents in the surrounding neighbourhoods.The grand opening is poised to be one mad celebration across 30 days, featuring unbeatable offers, starting from a flat 75% discount on a wide selection of items, engaging activities, providing shoppers with exciting experiences, and fun prizes, ensuring unforgettable moments.With a commitment to delivering unbeatable value, Géant promises the best prices, making it a preferred destination for the weekly shopping needs of all neighbourhood communities and visitors. The hypermarket offers a comprehensive shopping experience with all essentials available under one roof, from food to non-food items. Unique concepts, such as ready meals, a dining area offering cuisines from around the world and a coffee shop, add to the convenience and diversity of the shopping experience.Freshness takes centre stage at the new hypermarket, with complete serve-over stations delivering variety in fresh and affordable food options. Innovative in-store concepts include "La Cantine" for hot and cold meals from across the globe and "Le Café by Géant," opening early 2024, the first-ever coffee shop with a signature Géant experience.Conveniently located in the basement of Sahara Centre, Géant hypermarket provides direct access to dedicated parking, ensuring accessibility and ease for shoppers.Marc Laurent, President Retail - Everyday Goods at GMG, expressed the significance of Géant’s community-centric approach, stating, "Bustling residential areas like Al Nahda, Al Qusais and Mamzar deserve a neighbourhood hypermarket that ticks all the boxes. From our commitment to affordability and value, focus on fresh and sustainable produce, abundance of choice and quality, our new hypermarket will be an integral part of the busy and active lifestyle of families and individuals in the vicinity. This new store aligns seamlessly with our promise: Everyday serving lives with good food that is encapsulated in our tagline "Just for you."Collaborating with renowned partners, Géant brings a diverse product range to its latest hypermarket, including Supercare pharmacy, Tornado electronics, and a Red Tag clothing store as shop-in-shop concepts.Géant is ready to offer a world of quality, affordability, and convenience, making it a key player in Sharjah's retail landscape.

Global Cohort of 110 Journalists Unite for CNN Academy's Climate Storytelling

Convening at CNN’s state-of-the-art hub in Abu Dhabi last week, 110 aspiring and emerging journalists from around the world engaged in a dynamic and immersive journalism simulation focused on climate reporting.This unique event is part of CNN Academy, a special initiative designed to empower and upskill the next generation of journalists.This second edition of the CNN Academy simulation aimed to test and refine the skills of the participants by replicating a climate disaster scenario. Set in a fictional country, this multi-faceted exercise engaged trainees in a realistic news environment with the story unfolding in real time over a week.Becky Anderson, Anchor & Managing Editor, CNN Abu Dhabi, said: “At the end of what will be the hottest year ever recorded, and with COP28 taking place in Dubai, we wanted to focus this latest group of CNN academicians on what is without doubt the most important story of this generation. Reporting on the climate crisis is vitally important, but far from easy. We were able to immerse this group deep into all its complexity during this exercise. To see these young journalists, from all corners of the globe, working hard to tell this story with truth, accuracy, clarity and context has been truly inspiring.”Fourteen participants marked the inaugural cohort of the new CNN Academy Global South Climate Storytelling program, funded by The Rockefeller Foundation. They were specifically chosen to take part from the region most impacted by climate change and attended from countries including Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya and Vietnam. The program aims to increase awareness and address the impact of climate change in the most vulnerable communities in the Global South. The cohort joined participants from CNN Academy initiatives worldwide, including Hong Kong Chui Hai College, University College Dublin, Universidad Loyola Sevilla, University of Nottingham Malaysia, and CNN Academy Abu Dhabi, creating an international group representing 30 different nationalities, including 16 Emiratis.Eileen O’Connor, the Senior Vice President for Strategic Communications and Policy at The Rockefeller Foundation said: “Empowering storytellers from the Global South with climate reporting skills is paramount because developing countries are already suffering from climate change, despite bearing minimal responsibility for it. It’s not just about sharing stories; it's about giving voice to the most affected communities and amplifying urgent calls for climate action.”The simulation was designed and planned by CNN, in collaboration with Prof. Rex Brynen of McGillUniversity, a leader in serious gaming and Jim Wallman of Stone Paper Scissors. Building on the success of CNN Academy’s first newsroom simulation which launched last year, this year’s iteration saw participants newsgathering in the field, using a custom-built social media tool and attending mock press conferences and interviews. Each team was tasked with writing, producing, reporting, filming andediting a news package by the end of the week, leveraging the extensive media technology facilities of the creative lab, hosted at twofour54’s Yas Creative Hub in Abu Dhabi.Reem Al Mansouri from CNN Academy Abu Dhabi commented on the simulation: “The experience was extraordinary and immersive because the simulation week not only pushed me beyond my usual circle but also led me to see the world through the eyes of a real journalist.”Alongside the newsroom simulation, participants also received masterclasses from CNN experts on the power of pictures and storytelling during times of conflict, along with workshops on the importance of data management and archiving, and the complexity of gender reporting.Phil Nelson, EVP, CNN International Commercial said: “CNN Academy builds on a long tradition established by our founder, Ted Turner, to train and nurture the next generation of journalists,developing skills, forging links and opening doors. The CNN Academy simulation expands on this by presenting the participants with challenges modern journalists encounter, in an environment wherethey are safe to fail, and encouraged to consider every element they might face working on a story. This exceptional training is unmatched in the industry.”A visit to COP28 in Dubai allowed the academicians to explore pavilions and attend talks at the UN Climate Change Conference. In recognition of supporting the local ecology and climate, a tree wasplanted on behalf of each participant at the Jubail Mangrove Park in Abu Dhabi, which preserves the UAE’s mangrove habitats while also raising awareness of their importance to the environment.

Urban Company announces end-of-year sale across Dubai, Abu Dhabi

Urban Company, Asia’s largest and highest-rated tech-enabled home services marketplace, has announced its exclusive end-of-year sale. Running from 23rd December to 31st December, this sale offers a fantastic array of discounts on a range of services, ensuring customers of the leading platform for home and beauty services in Dubai and Abu Dhabi can step into the new year with style and savings.Sale Highlights:24 for 24 Offer: To welcome new users, Urban Company is offering a flat 24% discount on all services. It's a celebration of the upcoming year and a perfect chance for new customers to experience the exceptional quality and convenience of Urban Company.Countdown to NYE: Experience the thrill with Urban Company’s exclusive NYE Countdown! Beginning on the 23rd, the sale kicks off with an incredible 50% off, with discounts gradually transitioning each day. It’s an invitation to seize the moment – the earlier you indulge in their services, the bigger the reward. Dive into the festivities with the best deals right at the start – it's their way of saying, the early bird catches the most exciting offers!Surprise Mega Deal: Throughout the sale, Urban Company has a special surprise in store for their customers – an incredible offer on their Cleaning Subscription service from 23rd to 31st December 2023. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to keep your home pristine.Urban Company is committed to delivering top-notch services at the most affordable prices. Book your service with Urban Company today and make the most of these incredible deals.

ThePubverse joins forces with Nativo, transforming advertising in the MENA

ThePubverse, a leading publisher monetization platform by ArabyAds, announces its strategic partnership with Nativo, where brands unlock the power of content to engage and influence their audiences, to introduce ground-breaking advertising solutions in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. This collaboration aims to transform the landscape of digital advertising by enhancing targeting, attribution, and monetization capabilities. Imad Sarrouf, CEO of ThePubverse, expressed his excitement about the partnership, stating, “The integration with Nativo marks a significant milestone for digital advertising in the MENA region. By merging Nativo’s advanced branded content platform with ThePubverse’s robust publisher monetization technology, we aim to provide advertisers and publishers with unparalleled tools for creating engaging native ads that seamlessly blend into the user experience.” Nativo’s platform empowers publishers to develop and distribute high-quality native advertising that seamlessly integrates into their websites. This allows ad operations teams to deliver native branded content in various formats, including video, images, and text, ensuring a non-disruptive and engaging user experience. This collaboration between ThePubverse and Nativo is poised to revolutionize advertising strategies in the MENA region. By leveraging Nativo’s capabilities, ThePubverse will enable advertisers to create compelling native ads that resonate with target audiences, fostering enhanced engagement and interaction. ThePubverse’s integration with Nativo introduces a new era of addressability across the MENA digital advertising landscape. Through this partnership, advertisers and publishers gain access to advanced tools for precise audience targeting, accurate attribution, and efficient monetization strategies. This partnership signifies a commitment to elevate digital advertising experiences in the MENA region, providing innovative solutions that benefit advertisers, publishers, and consumers alike.

Wego reveals key trends evident in MENA winter travel for 2023

Wego, the largest online travel marketplace in MENA (Middle East and North Africa), Wego, the largest online travel marketplace in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), revealed the top booking trends for Winter 2023.This season witnesses families and travellers gearing up for winter trips, either for leisurely vacations or for expat residents to return home. In time for the holiday, Wego has identified several winter travel trends among MENA travellers.Surge in flight bookingsMore MENA travellers are flying this winter compared to last year. This year, Wego found that there’s a 11.37% YoY increase in international flight bookings for the travel period between November 2023 and January 2024.Wego has also observed that there's been a steady rise in booking numbers every year since the post-pandemic period of 2021, reflecting a growing appetite for winter travel among MENA travellers.Top destinations this winterCairo stands out as the top destination among MENA residents, followed closely by Jeddah, Dubai, Istanbul, and Kuwait.Major cities in the South and Southeast Asia also feature on the list, with Manila, Lahore, and Delhi in the top 10. Travel interest in these destinations may represent the homecoming trips for the Filipino, Indian, and Pakistani communities in the region.Popular flight routes are now cheaperAccording to Wego’s data, average flight prices for some popular routes are lower this winter compared to last year.Flights to Cairo from several GCC countries notably saw some of the steepest price drops, averaging up to 35% cut compared to last year's winter period. Moreover, these same Cairo routes are now cheaper than during this year’s summer holiday, between 5 to 43.56% decrease, depending on the departure city.Even compared to pre-pandemic rates, Cairo routes now sport cheaper price tags. For instance, the average ticket price from Riyadh to Cairo in 2023 has dropped by 112.81% compared to the winter period toward the end of 2019. Similarly, the Kuwait - Cairo route shows a decline of 62% compared to the average price before the pandemic.Other popular destinations such as Istanbul, Lahore, and London have also witnessed average flight price reductions compared to the previous year. For example, flights to Istanbul from Saudi Arabian cities are now cheaper by an average of 31.86% compared to last year.Manila stood as an exception, where Wego observed up to a 10% YoY increase in flight prices during winter 2023 from various departure points across MENA.*Figures provided are accurate at the time of writing and might experience further fluctuations due to changing demands.

Cryptyd expands into game publishing

Cryptyd Inc announced today the successful conclusion of a funding round, backed by Newton International Management. The capital infusion is poised to propel the launch of Cryptyd’s groundbreaking Baloot Quest mobile game, targeting Saudi Arabia and other GCC markets.Baloot, originally derived from the French Belote game, has transformed into a refined game in its Arab adaptation, demanding a high level of player skill. Cryptyd's Baloot Quest introduces cutting-edge technology, contemporary graphics, and a range of empowerment tools. Users have the flexibility to personalize game modes, round speeds, card types, and game rules. The game, `not only, features advanced social elements such as leagues, competitions, and live chat with audio communication, but also showcases the most advanced artificial intelligence, applicable in both solo player mode and for groups that fall short of the standard four-player requirement for a regular round.The investment proceeds will play a pivotal role in supporting Cryptyd's comprehensive strategy, encompassing marketing initiatives, user acquisition costs, and sustained development efforts for the Baloot Quest game.Ahmed Alaa, CEO, and founder of Cryptyd, Inc expressed his enthusiasm, stating, "We are heartened by the confidence that Newton has placed in our team, and we approach this upcoming stage of moving into game publishing with confidence and excitement." Alaa emphasized the alignment of Cryptyd’s philosophy with Newton, focusing on ensuring the game is enjoyable, and deliberately steering clear of the prevalent "pay to win" culture in many games. He further noted, "We firmly believe that our success will come from the delight of our customers and their eagerness to play Baloot Quest."Baloot Quest is readily accessible on the Apple App Store and Google Android platforms. The team invites mobile gaming enthusiasts to experience the thrill of Baloot Quest where entertainment is paramount, and every player has an equal opportunity to succeed.Cryptyd, Inc, headquartered in Massachusetts, USA, operates seamlessly with its wholly-owned subsidiary, Cryptyd SA, strategically located in Alexandria, Egypt, serving as the central hub for operations and development. The company's inception traces back to its incubation at the American University in Cairo V-lab and subsequent nurturing by the Google game accelerator in Singapore.  Cryptyd received seed funding from Acacia Angels as well as Alexandria Angels and AUC Angels. Cryptyd has established itself as a leading independent game development studio in MENA with expertise in game design, artwork, software development and game production. Cryptyd aims to become the first MENA development studio creating IP for regional and global markets. Newton International Management, LLC  specializes in early-stage investments, focusing on companies that leverage technology to elevate consumers' quality of life at the higher levels of the hierarchy of needs.

Neha Dhupia set to make her International film debut in filmmaker, Ali El Arabi

Actor Neha Dhupia is set to captivate global audiences with her debut international film, Blue 52, directed by renowned Egyptian filmmaker Ali El Arabi.Ali El Arabi, celebrated for his award-winning documentary feature "Captains of Za’atari," brings his directorial prowess to the fore in Blue 52. Having garnered acclaim at festivals such as Hot Docs and El Gouna, El Arabi is set to weave his magic once again, this time in the realm of fiction.Blue 52 unfolds against the stunning backdrops of Kochi, India, and Qatar.Neha Dhupia, known for her versatile acting skills in the Indian film industry, steps into a new dimension with her lead role in "Blue 52." The film promises a never-before-seen avatar of the actress, as she delves into a character infused with high-emotion drama. The film is the story of Ashish, who at the age of 9 is isolated by his father when he loses his oldest son and using this fear he isolates Ashish on an island by the backwaters of Kochi, India. Growing up, Ashish becomes a boy trapped in a man's body by the age of 22, with little knowledge of the world beyond his idol Messi and the life lessons imparted by his mother over the years, aimed at preparing him for life beyond their small island home. Strengthened by newfound resolve, Ashish decides to leave home with his mother's support and an opportunity that seems almost like a fantasy, offering him the chance to meet his idol, Messi, at the World Cup in Qatar 2022. Left to navigate the world on his own for the first time, he discovers his true self and finds his own passion.Speaking of her international debut, Neha Dhupia said, "Embarking on the journey of 'Blue 52' has been nothing short of magical. The fusion of diverse cultures in this international venture allowed me to delve deep into a character that is both challenging and emotionally resonant. It's a transformative experience that I believe will leave a lasting impact and I’m glad that Ali chose me to essay the lead in what is my international first”.Director Ali El Arabi said, “Creating 'Blue 52' was a labor of love, blending the cinematic languages of Egypt, America, and India. Neha brought an unparalleled dedication to her role, infusing the character with a nuanced emotional depth. The picturesque locales of Kochi and the vibrant energy of Qatar served as the perfect canvas for our storytelling. This film is a testament to the collaborative spirit of international cinema, and I am excited for audiences to experience the richness we've crafted together."The film is Presented by Ambient Light with Ali El Arabi serving as director and producer, Tariq Al-Naama as producer. Krysanne Katsoolis, Joe Matthews and Katara Studios as co-producers.

Billboard Arabia to launch new website and music charts

Media giant SRMG and Billboard have partnered to launch Billboard Arabia, featuring a new website and global charts tracking popular music from the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. The platform debuted in June, positioning itself as a global destination for artists with Arab roots. The website includes evergreen content, news, videos, reviews, interviews, and coverage of regional and global events.The Billboard Arabia charts include the Billboard Arabia Hot 100 and Billboard Arabia Artist 100. The Hot 100 showcases the most streamed Arabic songs, while the Artist 100 highlights the most popular Arab artists. The inaugural charts feature Sherine Abdel Wahab and ElGrandeToto prominently.Utilizing data from major streaming platforms, the charts aim to reflect global Arab music listening trends. Future plans include introducing eight genre-specific charts, starting in early 2024. Weekly updates of these charts will be released on the website and social media platforms every Thursday.Rami M. Zeidan, Managing Director of Billboard Arabia, said: “This marks an exciting new chapter in the region’s music infrastructure, establishing a centralized platform to spotlight the thriving Arab music scene. By continuing to elevate fan engagement and commemorate the evolution of Arab music, Billboard Arabia is committed to providing both established and new Arab artists and genres access to the global music market. Already, we’ve seen an increasing number of collaborations between Arab stars like Mishaal Tamer, Nancy Arjam, and Myriam Fares with global icons like Marshmello, Nicki Minaj, and Maluma. Billboard Arabia aims to further enhance this with the launch of our website and charts.”Billboard president Mike Van added: “Billboard Arabia symbolizes the beginning of a new era—one where Arab artists are heard around the world. Our commitment to ensuring artists have a platform to resonate and engage with music fans has always defined Billboard, and we look forward to bringing this same passion to Billboard Arabia.”

TrailRunner International joins PRCA MENA as a new corporate member

The Public Relations and Communications Association in the Middle East and North Africa (PRCA MENA) has announced strategy and communications advisory firm, TrailRunner International, as its latest corporate member.Based in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, London, Shanghai and the USA, the organisation specialises in Financial and Corporate Communications, offering a comprehensive suite of services to meet the diverse needs of its global clientele. With a focus on International Strategy, the firm assists clients in navigating the complexities of cross-border communications, ensuring effective and culturally sensitive messaging.Head of PRCA EMEA, Monika Fourneaux said:“We are pleased to welcome TrailRunner International as our newest member at PRCA MENA. Their commitment to international strategy aligns with our mission to advance excellence in public relations and communications in the Middle East and North Africa region. We look forward to a collaborative relationship that fosters innovation, knowledge-sharing, and elevates the standards of communication in our industry.”TrailRunner International’s Head of Middle East, Seth Hand, said:“Although we only recently established our offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, TrailRunner International (TRI) has been successfully supporting clients across the region for several years. Our team, comprised of highly experienced professionals both locally and internationally, possesses a deep knowledge and understanding of the regional communications landscape and we look forward to joining the PRCA and contributing to its vital role in elevating the standards of the MENA’s public relations and communications industry.”

Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Celebrates Champions at Mother of the Nation Jiu-Jitsu Cup

H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, honored the winners of the Mother of the Nation Jiu-Jitsu Cup in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. The event, held at Mubadala Arena in Zayed Sports City over the weekend, saw top-ranked female athletes testing their skills against each other across multiple divisions, including Adult, Under-18, Under-16, and the newly introduced Under-14. Over two exhilarating days, fierce competition unfolded among athletes representing various UAE clubs and academies. In the Under-14 category, Al Jazira Jiu-Jitsu Club, Sharjah Self-Defence Sports Club, and Al Ain Jiu-Jitsu Club emerged as the top three academies respectively. For the Under-16 division, Baniyas Jiu-Jitsu Club claimed the top spot, followed by Al Wahda Club Jiu-Jitsu Academy and Al Ain Jiu-Jitsu Club. In the Under-18 category, Al Wahda Club Jiu-Jitsu Academy secured the first position, with Baniyas Jiu-Jitsu Club and Al Ain Jiu-Jitsu Club also recognised for their commendable performances with second and third places. In the Adults category, Baniyas Jiu-Jitsu Club took the first place, while Al Wahda Club Jiu-Jitsu Academy and Al Ain Jiu-Jitsu Club took the second and third places. Winners across multiple categories were acknowledged and collectively received prize exceeding Dh400,000. H.E. Mohamed Salem Al Dhaheri, Vice Chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, commended the exemplary performances of the athletes, praising their exceptional skills and dedication. “Emirati women have always been at the forefront of various fields, epitomising creativity, and excellence. The Mother of the Nation Jiu-Jitsu Cup serves as a pivotal platform, allowing our girls to showcase their skills and perpetuate the UAE’s legacy of sporting eminence,” said Al Dhaheri. “The tournament highlighted the remarkable technical prowess and unwavering determination of Emirati girls on the mat. It signifies a promising future for jiu-jitsu, producing champions who will contribute to elevating Emirati sports to unprecedented levels,” he added. HE. Salem Naif Al Kuthairi, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Baniyas Sports Club, said: “I extend my congratulations to Lt. General H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, and President of Baniyas Club, as well as to the esteemed members of the Board of Directors and our passionate fans. This achievement brings us immense joy, given the profound significance of the tournament. Its impact resonates deeply within us, marking it as one of the most pivotal events we prioritise.” “We’re thrilled with our success, securing titles in both Adults and U-16 categories, and achieving second place in the U-18 category, where our strong competitive spirit shone through. This victory adds to our record, a testament to the vigorous efforts of the management and the unwavering dedication of our players,” he added. Ghala Alhammadi from Palms Sports - Team 777 clinched gold in U16 44kg. She said, “Winning the gold medal amidst tough competitions added a different flavor to the victory. I extend my heartfelt thanks to my coaches, club staff, and the supportive audience, whose presence greatly motivated me to give my best.” Aisha Alhammadi from Sharjah Self-Defence Sports Club secured gold in U14 63kg. “The continuous training, and unwavering support from the Federation, club, family, and friends made this achievement possible. It wasn’t easy, but my determination to win prevailed,” she added. Dana Ali Albreiki of Al Jazira Jiu-Jitsu Club won gold in U18 -40kg. “Jiu-jitsu taught me the importance of determination and preparation, enabling me to achieve this gold medal. This victory isn’t just mine; it uplifts the achievements of the Al Jazira club and inspires confidence in my female colleagues,” she said. Additionally, Maitha Shraim of Baniyas Jiu-Jitsu Club secured a gold medal in the adult 48kg category. “This victory fuels my confidence for future competitions. I am committed to training harder and refining my techniques for greater accomplishments,” she added.

Global leaders gather at museum of the future during COP28 visit to UAE

As the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 successfully concluded at Dubai Expo City, the Museum of the Future welcomed over 30 Presidents, Prime Ministers and delegates from 30 different countries from around the world.The Presidents and Ministers visiting the Museum of the Future during their official visit to COP28 included Miguel Díaz-Canel, President of Cuba; Eng. Hussein Arnous, Prime Minister of Syria; Dr. Terrence Drew, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts & Nevis; Premier E. David Burt of Bermuda; Ding Xuexiang, First Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China; Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Prime Minister of Nepal and Danielle Smith, Premier of Alberta – Canada.The visits to the Museum of the Future were part of the official visits to the United Arab Emirates, coinciding with their attendance at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) held at Dubai Expo City. The Museum of the Future is dedicated to supporting the UAE's hosting of the COP28 conference, while also striving to promote a more positive and sustainable future.The VIP tours showcased the museum’s iconic design and most prominent features, including its unique experiences, highlighting its vital role in shaping the future and designing its ideas as part of the museum's efforts in creating a better future for humanity.The high-level guests were also briefed on the museum's initiatives, departments, and pioneering experiences, as well as its role in developing future technologies, incubating ideas, projects, research, initiatives, and studies of qualitative value.

DEWA’s digital channels achieve global results in sustainability

 In addition to its leading projects and initiatives in clean and renewable energy, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) continues its full commitment to global sustainability goals. This is achieved through its comprehensive system of its operations and its pioneering success in digital transformation, especially in customer services. DEWA recorded a global percentage of over 99% in digital adoption this year. DEWA has a comprehensive ecosystem of ‘green’ digital channels, including its website, smart app, and customer care centre systems, all of which operate through green data centres that rely fully on clean energy. DEWA also intends to launch a new feature that allows customers to use its digital channels with a low carbon footprint. This feature empowers customers to conserve natural resources and achieve sustainability. The feature helps them consume less energy when using their devices and DEWA’s digital services.“We are keen to enhance the sustainability of all our operations. In the Year of Sustainability in the UAE, we intensify our efforts to enhance DEWA’s leadership and excellence in digital transformation and develop our technological infrastructure. We continue to provide innovative and proactive services to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity, in addition to protecting the environment and supporting sustainable and comprehensive development. This is in line with DEWA’s vision to be a globally leading sustainable innovative corporation committed to achieving Net-Zero by 2050. From 2017 to the end November 2023, DEWA’s digital transformation contributed to achieving financial savings for customers and DEWA exceeding AED 2.8 billion. It also contributed to reducing more than 230,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to planting over 260,000 trees,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA.DEWA’s website and smart app are hosted at the green data centre by Moro Hub, a subsidiary of Digital DEWA, the digital arm of DEWA. The green data centre, at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, is recognised by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest solar-powered data centre. An exemplary model for combining cutting-edge digital and power electronic technologies to create an advanced green ICT infrastructure powered by renewable energy, the green data centre offers digital products and services using Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies such as cloud services, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), among others.As a Principal Pathway Partner of COP28, hosted by the UAE at Expo City Dubai, DEWA contributed to the success of this global event, which highlighted the UAE’s accomplishments in supporting global climate action. DEWA’s stand in the Green Zone showcased DEWA’s prominent projects and globally leading programmes. It also highlighted DEWA’s efforts in clean and renewable energy, digital transformation, green mobility, smart grids, innovation, and the latest disruptive technologies.

Jackie Shroff & Neena Gupta Shine in Breezy "Mast Mein Rehne Ka"

A quiet release on Amazon Prime in midst of the ongoing Animal shor-sharaaba; Mast Mein Rehne Ka turns out to be a breezy feel good fare with Jackie Shroff and Neena Gupta striking a sweet senior citizen friendship, which you would root and hoot...In fact, Jaggu dada is in top form (as usual) playing the Karwari Kamath to perfection. Neena Gupta, as the boisterous Punjaban cussing in every sentence and calling Jaggu "Madrasi" is also first rate. The angst and emotional pain of neglected senior citizens is effectively explored through their platonic relationship.There is a parallel love track between a petty chor (Abhishek Chauhan) and street hooker (Monika, impressive) surviving in the big bad Mumbai. Writer- actor turned director Vijay Maurya does quite well for his first full fledged movie. Mast Mein Rehne Ka easily fits in the "Can See" category. Make it your Sunday matinee!!Ratings on some key aspects* : 1. Acting : 4/5 2. Direction : 3.5/53. Music : 2/5 4. Story, Screenplay and Dialogue : 3.5/55. Cinematography : 3/56. Editing : 3/5 7. Costume Design : 2/58. Special Effects and VFX : NA9. Action : NA10. Production Quality : 3/5#SNRating for #MastMeinRehneKa : 3 stars out of 5. - Sumeet NadkarniLiked the review?Click on the link below and like the #SNRatings page to subscribe to honest and unbiased reviews of all latest movies : can also follow us on Twitter handle : @sumu76in* - The overall film rating is not a simple average of all ratings on key aspects but a weighted average of the ratings where some crucial aspects (like direction, acting, story and screenplay etc) are assigned more weightage than others. #MastMeinRehneKa #RomanticDrama #HindiMovie #BollywoodFilm #JackieShroff #NeenaGupta #VijayMaurya #BollywoodReview #Filmreview #TheatricalRelease #OTTRelease #AmazonPrime #SNRatings #SNRatings barometer:1 star = Poor1 & 1/2 star = Below average/ Avoidable2 stars = Average2 & 1/2 stars = Above average/ Risk it3 stars = Good enough/ Endurable3 & 1/2 stars = Definitely worth a watch4 stars = Very good5 stars = Masterpiece/ Outstanding. 2023 SNRatings.

IPL auction 2024: When and where to watch, date, time, live streaming, venue

The IPL 2024 Auction will take place on Tuesday, December 19, 2023, at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai. 333 cricketers will go under the hammer, of whom 214 are Indians and 119 are overseas players, with a maximum of 77 slots to fill. The highest reserve price for a player is Rs 2 crore, with 23 players such as Travis Head, Steve Smith, Harshal Patel, Shardul Thakur, and Lockie Ferguson listing themselves at that value. Gujarat Titans will come into the auction with the highest purse with Rs 38.15 crore while the Lucknow Super Giants have the lowest purse balance at Rs 13.15 crore.JioCinema will bring back its multi-language coverage of the league, streaming the auction in seven languages: English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Punjabi, and Bhojpuri. Each language will have former Indian cricketers and experts to cover the auction, including the likes of AB de Villiers, Eoin Morgan, Suresh Raina, Anil Kumble, Hanuma Vihari, Abhinav Mukund, Veda Krishnamurthy, and many more.JioCinema will also live stream a mock auction with the likes of Suresh Raina, Anil Kumble, Mile Hesson, Eoin Morgan, Robin Uthappa, and others on December 18 at 12 noon to give viewers a flavour of what to expect from auction day and analyse potential strategies. Here's everything you need to know about the upcoming IPL Auction 2024 live stream: What: IPL Auction 2024 When: December 19, 2023 (Tuesday) Where: Coca-Cola Arena, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Time: Pre-auction analysis begins at 12 noon, followed by live auction coverage 1:00 PM onwards Live streaming in India: JioCinema

Yango unveils the future of AI and LLMs

Yango, the global technology company that recently launched Yasmina, the human-like AI assistant, has offered insights into the future of artificial intelligence, AI assistants, and large language models (LLMs) for the year 2024 and beyond.Samer Mohamad, Yasmina Regional Director for MENA at Yango, said: “While Artificial Intelligence is a source of both huge excitement and apprehension, it is now time to turn our attention to how it will play out in the future. Based on our experience with creating a human-like AI assistant, we understand that LLMs and AI, in general, have a long way to go and can identify a number of upcoming trends.”Yango's predictions for 2024Smarter and easier to use:Smart assistants are poised to become even more intelligent and human-like by integrating with LLMs. Developers will focus on merging assistants with more advanced LLMs, such as ChatGPT-3.5 and 4, to enhance their context-awareness, creativity, and emotional intelligence. The result will be assistants capable of spontaneous storytelling and accurate responses to context-dependent queries, transforming them into ultimate AI companions.More culturally customized:AI and smart assistants will be increasingly tailored to diverse cultural and linguistic nuances. This includes support for multiple regional languages and dialects, as well as a deep understanding of local customs and social norms. Yango envisions assistants responding consistently in the same dialect as the speaker, ensuring a seamless and personalized experience.Universal translators:LLMs are already proficient at translating text, and this capability is expected to improve further. Yango anticipates a future where LLMs or LLM-powered software and devices will possess mastery over all languages, offering seamless translation for any language pair.Smarter assistants for smarter homes:Smart assistants will play a pivotal role in advancing smart home development. Yango envisions a scenario where users can delegate tasks to their AI assistants, seeking guidance on configuring smart home scenarios and discovering efficient ways to use connected devices. Whether it's recommending the right appliances or providing advice on optimizing existing devices, the AI assistant becomes an indispensable resource for creating intelligent and efficient smart homes.Yango invites tech enthusiasts, developers, and AI aficionados to stay tuned for these exciting developments in the coming year as the company continues to push the boundaries of AI innovation with Yasmina, the human-like AI assistant.

Ajman Tourism achieves milestones in Egypt roadshow and secures partnerships

The Ajman Department of Tourism Development (ADTD), led by His Excellency Mahmood Khaleel Alhashmi, Director General, successfully conducted a strategic roadshow in Egypt from December 13 to 14. This initiative marks a significant step towards enhancing collaboration between Ajman and Egypt, with a primary focus on fortifying tourism ties and fostering mutual relations within the sector.In an impactful endeavor, ADTD solidified three major memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with renowned Egyptian tourism companies, reinforcing their commitment to seeking support for tourism development in the region. The agreements were formalized with Travco - Egypt, Travista - Egypt, and Heliopolis Express Tours - Egypt, all prominent entities in the Egyptian tourism industry. His Excellency Mahmood Khaleel Alhashmi formally signed a memorandum of understanding with Travco - Egypt, a premier tourism company. The focus of this collaboration is to strengthen cooperation and coordination in the fields of tourism, hospitality, and marketing, with special emphasis on hotel reservations and promoting tourist attractions in Ajman.Simultaneously, the department entered into a memorandum of understanding with Travista - Egypt, a trailblazer in tourism and international destination marketing within the Egyptian market. This memorandum aligns with strategies for hotel bookings and the promotion of tourist attractions in Ajman, highlighting their unique features.In a separate context, the partnership with Heliopolis Express Tourism - Egypt, specializing in international tourism, aims to bolster the global presence of the emirate of Ajman. The joint effort seeks to attract travelers worldwide, enhance the visitor experience, and promote Ajman's cultural landmarks, setting the stage for robust future collaboration.In his statement, His Excellency Mahmood Khaleel Alhashmi expressed, “This collaboration marks a new era in the partnership between Ajman and Egypt, solidifying our mutual relations. We are dedicated to promoting tourism, fostering cultural exchange, and building enduring connections. We eagerly anticipate the promising prospects that these memorandums hold and look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship.” Alhashmi underscored the Ajman Department of Tourism Development’s commitment to achieving sustainable development in the tourism sector, emphasizing the ambition to elevate Ajman as a primary international tourist destination. This commitment is evidenced through comprehensive projects spanning entertainment, events, and hospitality, with a strategic focus on enhancing the unique tourism components that distinguish the emirate of Ajman. These initiatives align with a broader vision to position Ajman prominently on the global tourism stage.Consequently, ADTD integrates introductory roadshows into its programs, aiming to showcase Ajman globally and bolster its standing on the international stage. Additionally, efforts are directed towards increasing demand from Egyptian tourists by raising awareness about the significance of Ajman and its rich cultural and tourism diversity. The department remains dedicated to strengthening relationships with key partners in the tourism sector and fostering strategic partnerships to augment these endeavors.

TDRA organises an exhibition about the UAE’s ICT history

The Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) organized an exhibition titled "Telecommunications in the UAE History", on the side-lines of the WRC-23, hosted by the UAE in Dubai from 20 November to 15 December 2023.The exhibition tells the story of the ICT sector development in the UAE since the establishment of the UAE. It highlights significant milestones using prevalent products and tools from each era, commencing with telefax machines and vintage rotary phones and advancing through subsequent generations of mobile and smartphones.The exhibition garnered the attention of participants at the WRC-23, portraying a journey spanning decades that witnessed rapid leaps of development in the UAE ICT sector. These leaps went along with the urban and cultural progress of the UAE throughout its history. The exhibition showcased an extraordinary collection of landline phones, antiquated fax and telex machines, along with call indicator (bleeper) devices and oversized mobile phones representing the first generation of mobile communication devices in the UAE. These carefully selected devices serve as symbols of distinct eras, reflecting technological evolution and ultimately shaping the present communications scene in the UAE.Commenting on the considerable interest of visitors in the exhibition, H.E. Mohammed bin Markhan Al Kitbi, Deputy Director-General of TDRA for the Support Services Sector, and leader of the team organizing the WRC-23, said: "Throughout our national journey, the telecommunications sector has stood out as the most tangible symbol of progress. This sector has consistently garnered attention from the UAE’s leadership, starting with the founding fathers and continuing under our current leaders. The UAE has emerged as a leading country today across various indicators, notably in digital transformation. The "Telecommunications in the UAE History" exhibition has effectively narrated a story with tangible examples of communication devices that were integral to daily life in each historical era, leaving a lasting impression on its visitors from the conference participants."The exhibition hosted by TDRA at the WRC-23 venue provides an immersive experience for visitors, enabling them to delve into a carefully selected group of traditional and vintage phones. This includes rotary and push-button phones, each capturing the spirit of its specific era. Moreover, the exhibition showcases various old fax machines, mapping their evolution from the era of thermal paper and sluggish transmission. The exhibition offers an introductory narrative about the historical context and the influence of these communication devices on society and business. It emphasizes the landmark accomplishments that positioned the UAE as a leader in the telecommunications industry.The exhibition extends throughout the WRC-23, offering delegates and technology enthusiasts a chance to delve into the communication history and gain insightful perspectives into the UAE's digitally supported vision for the future.

Qatar Airways touches down in Tabuk, its 10th destination in Saudi Arabia

Qatar Airways, the Best Airline in the Middle East, has landed its inaugural flight in Tabuk, on Thursday, 14 December, marking it as its10th gateway in Saudi Arabia. The new direct service will be operated by an Airbus A320, with two weekly flights on Thursday and Sunday.In addition to reinforcing Qatar Airways’ position in the Saudi Market, the launch of this new route is poised to deepen economic and cultural bonds between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as the airline expands its comprehensive network to cover 10 cities in the Kingdom including AlUla, Dammam, Gassim, Jeddah, Medina, Neom, Riyadh, Tabuk, Taif, and Yanbu.The national carrier of the State of Qatar will offer business and leisure passengers from Tabuk unparalleled travel experiences and convenient travel options to over 170 destinations worldwide including key connections in China, Europe, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and United States.Group Chief Executive Officer, Engr. Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, said: “We are proud to introduce Tabuk as our newest gateway in Saudi Arabia after launching flights to AlUla, Neom and resuming flights to Yanbu in recent weeks. This further demonstrates our commitment to enhancing connectivity in the Kingdom. Tabuk offers a wealth of historical, cultural and natural experiences and we look forward to connecting it to our extensive global network.”Airports Cluster2 Company Chief Executive Officer, Eng. Ali Masrahi, said: “We're delighted to celebrate the launch of Qatar Airways flights at Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Airport and other key destinations. This milestone builds on our recent expansion efforts, welcoming multiple new flights to further enhance connectivity across airports managed by Airports Cluster2 Company."Known as the Northern Gate to the Arabian Peninsula, Tabuk stands out for its rich history, pristine nature and delectable local cuisine. The city is also renowned for its archaeological wonders, picturesque landscapes and snow-covered peaks in winter.Operating more than 125 weekly flights across Saudi Arabia, Qatar Airways is dedicated to offering passengers from six continents an array of seamless options to explore incredible destinations in Saudi Arabia onboard the airline’s modern fleet and through its multiple-award-winning hub, Hamad International Airport.Tickets for flights to Tabuk and other destinations are now available for booking through the Qatar Airways website, mobile app, and travel agencies.

Record 25,000 participants expected for 5th edition of ADNOC Abu Dhabi Maratho

The fifth edition of the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon is set to take place on Saturday morning, with a record-breaking 25,000 runners, from 168 nationalities, participating alongside a host of elite athletes. At the press conference held at the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon – Event Village, located behind the ADNOC Tower, there was a number of pavilions for sponsors and partners with entertainment provided as well as musical performances for visitors. The Marathon organising committee confirmed the completion  of the preparations for the event and the most prominent international runners, male and female, were revealed at the conference. Organised by Abu Dhabi Sports Council and ADNOC, the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon is recognised as one of the Middle East’s premier marathon events, with a prize fund of $303,000. Among the elite athletes taking part this year will be Uganda’s Andrew Kwemoi, winner of the 2023 Milano Marathon, Kenya’s Ilham Tanui Ozbilen and Emily Kipchumba. Suhail Al-Arifi, Executive Director of the Events Sector at Abu Dhabi Sports Council said: “The remarkable confirmed participation this year of more than 25,000 runners signifies the substantial growth of the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon over the years. With 168 nationalities represented at the race, including an intriguing elite line up, it showcases the event’s significance locally and globally.” Al-Arifi added: “This fifth time organising and hosting the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon is certainly a special occasion. The marathon route will take you on a tour around the most famous landmarks in our beautiful capital, starting from the ADNOC headquarters, passing through the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Al Hosn Palace, and the World Trade Centre.” Al-Arifi expressed his gratitude to all sponsors, official partners, media partners and suppliers, who are contributing to the success of the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon. Beyond its burgeoning reputation as a platform for global athletic excellence, this year’s marathon incorporates several eco-initiatives dedicated to promoting sustainability. The organisers have pledged their commitment to ensure, wherever feasible, a positive impact of the event on the community and environment. Khalid Al Hosani, SVP Group General Services at ADNOC, said: “The ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon continues to positively impact the UAE community and cement Abu Dhabi’s global reputation as a world-class sporting destination. We are thrilled to welcome participants from around the world to this fifth edition which promises to provide an unforgettable, inclusive experience grounded in health, resilience, and the spirit of unity.” Kenyan Brigid Kosgei , a two-time winner at both the Chicago and London Marathons, remarked: “I’m very excited to test myself here in Abu Dhabi. Two of my training mates have both run here [in this city] and won on these roads, so I want to make my training camp shine again. “I’ve never been to Abu Dhabi before, but I can see it’s a very nice track. I have come here to run the Marathon and win the race. I want to take the [gold] medal this year.” Emily Kipchumba, a Kenyan long-distance runner, added: “I love to run in Abu Dhabi as it is a very good place to be. I’m very happy to close my Marathon season here in Abu Dhabi. I’m well prepared and I hope to run my personal best. I get a lot of motivation from running against Brigid.” Kenya’s Paul Kipngetich Tanui, a silver medallist at the Rio de Janiero Olympics in 2016, had a powerful message for his fellow participants ahead of the gruelling 42.195 km race on Saturday. “The Abu Dhabi Marathon has always been one of my favourite races,” Tanui told the audience in attendance.  “The Marathon is a challenge and a great opportunity for us all. When we start running and begin chalking off those miles, I know it will motivate us [all] to keep going – especially when we see everyone on the road supporting us. This is a journey and we must finish.” Meanwhile, Turkish runner Ilham Tanoy Ozbilin is in positive spirits ahead of his first-ever Marathon appearance this weekend. He commented: “It’s my first Marathon and I’ll be expecting to run good. I have a good feeling about this place, so I hope everything will go well.” Kwemoi, who won his first Marathon in April, is also looking forward to running in the UAE capital once more. He said: “I am happy to come to Abu Dhabi for the Marathon. It is good to be back here again.” The ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon caters to various fitness levels, offering race categories including the marathon (42.195 km), marathon relay, 10km, 5km, and 2.5km. All races will commence at different locations near the ADNOC headquarters on Corniche Road and finish at the ADNOC Campus, near Bainuna Public Park.  The daily Marathon Village, hosted at the ADNOC Campus, is accessible until race day, from 3pm to 10pm. The free-to-enter facility promises an immersive experience for visitors with entertainment, a wide array of eating options, activations, and services.

Hyundai Motor and Mubadala collaborate on future business opportunities

SEOUL, South Korea and ABU DHABI, UAE/PRNewswire/ -- Hyundai Motor Company and Mubadala Investment Company "Mubadala", an Abu Dhabi-based global sovereign investor, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly explore potential business opportunities and synergies for future mobility and technologies. The signing ceremony, which took place in Abu Dhabi, was attended by Jaehoon Chang, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor Company, and Waleed Al Mokarrab Al Muhairi, Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer of Mubadala Investment Company. This marks the beginning of a strategic collaboration that will drive progress in future mobility and clean technologies.The agreement will allow both parties to jointly invest and share expertise, leveraging the advantages of Mubadala's investments and Hyundai Motor's expertise in various fields, including green steel production, green aluminum production and recycling, as well as advanced air mobility (AAM), and infrastructure for electric vehicles.In addition, Hyundai Motor and Mubadala will seek to unlock potential investment opportunities."This collaboration capitalizes on the organic synergy between Hyundai Motor's eco-friendly and futuristic business strategies, including hydrogen, green steel, green aluminum as well as future mobility technologies, and Mubadala's investment portfolio," said Jaehoon Chang, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor Company. "Hyundai Motor will continue to pursue diverse partnerships to achieve a sustainable future and contribute to the global energy transition."Commenting on this agreement, Waleed Al Mokarrab Al Muhairi, Deputy Group CEO of Mubadala Investment Company, said: "This strategic partnership with Hyundai Motor Company marks a significant milestone in our journey to further diversify our portfolio across sectors that are shaping the future of the global economy such as mobility, green technology, and energy. Through our combined strengths and expertise, we will surface new investment opportunities that are in line with our strategic growth ambitions and sustainability agendas. We look forward to collaborating with Hyundai Motor Company and expanding our presence in South Korea."