Housing Bank enters the Metaverse

Housing Bank has announced the launch of its virtual bank in the Metaverse, making it the first bank in the Kingdom to enter this virtual world. It is also one of the pioneering banks in the region to adopt this cutting-edge technology. It will be available on two popular Metaverse platforms, namely the Decentraland platform and the Spatial platform.By establishing its presence on the Metaverse, Housing Bank demonstrates its commitment to staying at the forefront of adopting advanced technologies, as this investment in digital transformation is a key component of its strategy. With this launch, the bank is taking a significant step in its technical endeavors to incorporate technology in the banking industry and improve its customer relationship management.Through this pioneering initiative, the bank aims to reach a new generation of customers and provide them with a unique opportunity to enter the world of the Metaverse. This allows them to discover the first virtual bank in Jordan, marking a significant step towards the future, offering customers an opportunity to experience innovative technology that enables seamless communication and interaction that caters to their aspirations and interests, which is provided with ease and comfort from anywhere and at any time.Additionally, Housing Bank is collaborating with Innoarea, which specializes in developing virtual reality and augmented reality experiences, to get launched in the Metaverse. The company is part of the BMB Group, which is one of the most prominent information and communications technology services and consulting companies in the Middle East.Housing Bank, which is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year, continues to be a role model in the banking industry, achieving yet another significant milestone as it continues to lead the way in digital transformation by making significant progress in the field of technological development and digital services, in addition to launching numerous sophisticated and advanced services that keep up with the rapid changes brought about by the digital age.

Closed Captions Communications: Where sibling synergy fuels creative innovation

‘Closed Captions Communications’ is a branding studio with a difference. It is a brainchild of Serge and Sarah Trad, who have navigated the ever-changing landscapes of both clients and agencies, mastering the intricate realms of branding. With a combined wealth of experience in marketing, communications, journalism, and creative copywriting, the dynamic duo brings a fresh perspective to the world of branding and storytelling.Serge Trad, an award-winning marketing & communications consultant, has an impressive track record of spearheading marketing campaigns, driving business growth, and formulating customer-first strategies for global brands across multiple sectors. He has also been recognized as Dubai’s F&B Marketeer of the Year 2022. Sarah Trad, a journalist, editor, and copywriter, brings her creative flair and unparalleled storytelling abilities to the studio. She has also served as the Editor-in-Chief of prominent media/tech publications.In this exclusive interview with Adgully, Sarah Trad, Co-Founder of 'Closed Captions Communications,' shares insights into the journey of building their unique branding studio, the pros and cons of running a business with her brother, Serge Trad, and the challenges and triumphs they've encountered along the way. Sarah also discusses the startup landscape in Dubai, their approach to branding, and offers valuable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.Could you share your career journey? As a journalist, how did you come up with the idea for your startup, 'Closed Captions Communications'? What inspired it?Words always meant too much to me. Holding a pen and paper, two of the first things a child is given for fun and learning, I found myself writing for the sake of how letters looked handwritten all while holding meaning when aligned in any specific manner.They say not all readers are writers, but all writers are readers; and I read and write a lot. From culture and art to global oil markets and regional economic and business news, my brain adapts fast to all of them. Apparently I’m a deeply curious person, something I discovered while improvising questions and entire conversations during interviews as a young journalist.On a random day last year, my brother reached out to me with the assignment to create the full verbal identity of a new restaurant that’s a month away from opening at The Palm Jumeirah. This was the first time I found myself in direct contact with branding; it was unlike other freelance projects or articles I had written before. The process was so enriching and satisfying that it pushed my creative writing to prevail over my journalistic side.Closed Captions Communications came to be out of a need to set our creativity free away from other professional commitments.Serge is the Director of Marketing at Addmind, one of the MENA’s biggest hospitality companies, and I’m a journalist with an intimate relationship with words. It was a matter of time for us to combine our talents and 10+ years of experience into a business we want to grow until we’re off this planet.You and your brother, Serge Trad, co-founded 'Closed Captions Communications.' Do you believe it's easier to run a business with a sibling? What are the pros and cons?Running a business is a massive responsibility on its own; managing it with a sibling, in my case older brother, is another challenge that needs a lot of conscious work and open conversations.If I am to list out pros and cons, the cons will all boil down to personal issues and communication while the pros will comfortably override and outweigh the cons.Any argument would de-escalate in the presence of clear, concise communication. Siblings have a heavy load on their backs since childhood, with fights, jealousy, and the need to prove and differentiate one’s self from the other. Once we see our siblings as our friends, or accept the fact that they’re not here to compete with or hurt us, the relationship will begin to self-heal.To jump from brother-sister to business partners usually requires a predisposition to having complementary talents that can be made profitable. Luckily, Serge and I have been nurturing this closeness in taste and interests ever since ever.Could you please provide some insights into your venture?We have a knack for plucking the soul out of a company, giving it a personality and tone of voice, dressing it in design elements that bring out its unique side, and wrapping it all under a brand that’s ready to tango with the world.Both you and Co-Founder Serge Trad are located in different cities, with you in Beirut and him in Dubai. Has this geographical separation posed any challenges for 'Closed Captions Communication'?After Serge and I had decided in all seriousness that we’re opening a branding studio, we needed to brand it. I hadn’t seen him in months, and we were handling all the legal papers over WhatsApp, which was a little odd to me considering Beirut is far from being the paper-free city Dubai is.It was Christmas and Serge decided to have me and parents over in Dubai for the holidays. On a taxi ride, he looks at me and says “Closed Captions Communications”. My eyes opened wide as I was taking the name in.The building of the brand happened over three months during which we only spent three weeks in the same city. WhatsApp and online calls were, and still are, our dearest friends, though being in the presence of each other rolls out an abundance of ideas that materialise into beautiful work like our latest campaign ‘Eat Your Heart Out’, but oh well, c’est la digital vie these days.Do you believe Dubai is a startup hub, welcoming both local and international startups? What factors make the UAE an ideal location for startups?Ahh Dubai, what a city of networking it is. I’ve never encountered a more serious city about business and economy; when a country elects a Minister of Happiness, you know something good is happening.Startups look at Dubai as their playground, just like Silicon Valley is inundated with weird experimental machines/apps/services and self-driving taxis.The UAE’s advantage over other countries in attracting startups would have to be the diversity in headquartered global companies, plethora of investors, the technological savviness of most residents who can switch to being users, and the constant programs and initiatives created by the government and big players to encourage the youth to materialise their ideas.Can you share any impactful experiences, whether positive or negative, from your journey of building your brand?The realisation that if I don’t do it there’s no one else to do it for me keeps me on my toes. As a business owner, I’m going to be doing everything from scheduling calls to preparing legal contracts to working on an outreach marketing strategy to looking up administrative tools and techniques and so on. It’s a lot of skills, learning, and research. Luckily I have Serge as a Co-Founder and his extremely straightforward work ethics to guide my dreamer mind and take a heavy load off my shoulders.How did you navigate and overcome the challenges you faced?An open and positively flexible mentality is how one can jump over hardships and move towards solutions. Sometimes, people only have to seek a betterment to their stagnant state for a snowball-leading change to take place.In times like these, technology has your back, AI is at your service, search engines have the answers to your questions, and experienced professionals can guide you through muddy waters. Even health issues (physical or mental) can be worked on if they’re affecting your workflow. Just seek the help need and don’t let old habits dictate how you lead your life now.What key points about startups would you like to share with the readers?Numbers say over 90% of startups fail within or after a year of their launch. I say one has to be more reasonable than a dreamer. Find a problem and solve it, but have this problem be worth the trouble. It’s cool to add “CEO” or “Co-Founder” to your LinkedIn title but not cooler than helping people and the planet lead a better life through the solution you’re putting all your time and effort and money into

HAVAS RED adds four new beauty brands to its portfolio

Havas Red Middle East has expanded its beauty and wellness division by signing on four new prestigious brands, which are Laneige, Luxuria Group, Sculpted by Aimee and Swiss Arabian Perfumes to its portfolio .The agency’s high standards, creativity and innovation have been rewarded with these wins as the dedicated Havas Red team is tasked with handling PR, communications and influencer relations for the brands.The exciting additions to Havas Red’s diverse portfolio showcase the agency’s versatility and expertise in the industry, solidifying its position as a communications leader in the beauty and wellness sector.Laneige, from South Korea, is a cosmetics brand with a rich history in skincare innovation. Launched by Amore Pacific in 1994, the brand’s name translates to “the snow” in French, embodying its commitment to skin hydration and radiant, pure beauty. Luxuria Group, based in Dubai, has established itself as a key player in the luxury beauty market across the GCC region. As a distributor of international luxury beauty brands, Luxuria Group specializes in niche fragrances, skincare, and haircare. Havas Red’s partnership with Luxuria Group is anchored in a shared vision of enhancing the beauty and wellness landscape. Sculpted by Aimee is an award-winning Irish makeup brand founded by makeup artist Aimee Connolly. With a dedication to quality, innovation and inclusivity, the brand speaks to individuals who view makeup as a means of self-expression and empowerment. Carrying a legacy rooted in a blend of Western and Oriental craftsmanship, Swiss Arabian Perfumes is a brand that epitomizes the celebration of cultural diversity. Founded on the concept of duality, the brand empowers an emerging audience to embrace their identity by drawing inspiration from the drama and grandeur of the East, as well as the power and dynamism of the West. Dana Tahir, Managing Director, Havas Red Middle East, said: “Laneige, Luxuria Group, Sculpted by Aimee and Swiss Arabian Perfumes each represents a unique facet of the industry, from cultural fusion to scientific innovation and artistic expression. With these new partners in our client roster, we continue to reinforce our agency’s unwavering commitment to excellence, and we look forward to creating meaningful and impactful communications with the brands.”

BPG's CX Strategy Nets Iconic Brands and GCC Business Wins

Award-winning agency BPG (Bates PanGulf, part of WPP) is entering Q4 2023 with incredible growth numbers and several high-profile strategic wins for its specialist MarCom services in UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Oman. BPG’s ‘digital first, integrated by intent’ positioning has paid off handsomely – with over 50% revenue growth, amounting to annualized revenues of $13m to $15m.Avi Bhojani, Group CEO, BPG said: “More than four decades in business have shown us that innovation, agility and customer-centricity determine the survival of the fittest. Today, the brands that are loved are the ones prioritizing customer experience (CX), through a blend of culture, processes and data. BPG 3.0 is here to support the shift in thinking around customer journeys and focusing on their needs. It is an exciting time at BPG as we bring together our incredibly talented and motivated integrated team to serve some of the region’s most iconic brands.”This year, BPG has bagged some of the most coveted regional pitches, winning brands such as Trojena - The Mountains of NEOM, Wasl, Darna Rewards by Aldar, Uber, Talabat Kuwait, and more. Building on its exceptional experience in finance and banking, BPG won strategic branding projects for First Abu Dhabi Bank. Other new business wins include Bank Dhofar, RAKBANK and Sohar International Bank, who just acquired HSBC in Oman. The multi-practice mandates encompass integrated marketing, communications, influencer marketing, creative advertising, PR, branding, media services, digital and performance marketing, social media, and content management. The exciting pipeline of new business wins has been supplemented by expanding mandates from long-time clients such as Ooredoo, Central Bank of Kuwait and Diraya with Kuwait Banking Association, Wooden Bakery, and Domino’s Pizza. BPG’s social media practice has steadily expanded, bagging new clients such as Porsche UAE (Al Nabooda), Titan Watches, and DMCC.The agency’s CX practice, integral to BPG 3.0, has also been one of its fastest growing, having extended and delivered CX strategies and assets to clients across Dubai, Kuwait and Oman. BPG has secured over $2m worth of annualised revenue, for CX projects varying in scope from designing and refreshing websites and building sales enablement apps to UX/UI optimization.BPG 3.0 was born after a significant, game-changing creative win in Saudi Arabia. BPG is working on a unified customer experience through its full-service hubs in UAE and Kuwait, supported by BPG Cloudworks – a borderless remote team that stretches from North America and Europe to Egypt, Lebanon, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. This strategic transformation is inspired by culture, powered by insights, human by design and integrated by intent. In 1995, BPG 1.0 was born after winning an integrated mandate from the Dubai Government. BPG 2.0 emerged in 2003 after winning mandates for public advocacy andcreating centres of excellence and offices around the world.Souheil Arabi, Group Chief Operating Officer, BPG and CEO, BPG Kuwait said: “BPG 3.0 is coming to life as our business is growing in every dimension: teams, services, revenues, and clients. This has been a year of tremendous activity and achievement with some notable wins for our team – which we look forward to celebrating next month at our 27th Annual Offsite, one of BPG’s most cherished traditions. We are doubling down on embracing relevant and appropriate AI tools into our day to day lives, and excited about the role of CX in brand building.”BPG has continued on an expansion trajectory, with 35% growth in its talent pool across UX, content, creative, PR and media. The agency continues with its landmark BPG NXT graduate training program and has just hired four NXTers in Dubai and two in Kuwait from over 800 qualified applicants. Running since 2006, BPG NXT identifies and nurtures young talent, giving them opportunities to shine. With this program, BPG has given the regional MarCom industry over 100 outstanding professionals.Darius LaBelle, President, BPG UAE said: “Our ambition is not to be the biggest agency, but the smartest and most valuable one built around our clients’ needs. The BPG CX Multiplier, through which we use data and human insights to deliver targeted personal messages across digital and physical channels, has been one of our most successful solutions. We look forward to driving impactful results for our clients, with integrated teams in content, comms, media, data, experience, and brand on every brief.”

TrailRunner International hires Seth Hand as Managing Director and Head of ME

The global strategic communications advisory firm TrailRunner International today announced the appointment of Seth Hand as a Managing Director and head of the firm’s Middle East business. Hand brings more than 20 years’ experience, including 15 years in the Gulf region. He joins TrailRunner from Edelman Middle East, where he served as Managing Director for the Middle East and led the regional corporate reputation practice. “We are excited to have a leader of Seth’s experience, caliber, and character coming on board as we grow our business internationally, in the Gulf, and in the broader Middle East North Africa region,” TrailRunner International CEO Jim Hughes said. “Our focus at TrailRunner is on delivering for our clients and on creating great career opportunities for ambitious, hard-working communications professionals. We are pleased to have found in Seth a leader who sees the world the same way we do and who will help us find the best ways for TrailRunner to contribute to the broader success of this incredibly dynamic and critically important part of the world.” “When TrailRunner International approached me to lead their market entry into the Middle East, I jumped at the opportunity,” said Hand. “With offices across the U.S. and in China, TrailRunner has established a strong reputation as a high-impact firm with an unusual commitment to client service and to its incredibly tight-knit team. I believe TrailRunner’s approach to delivering best-in-class strategic communications counsel will be welcomed by clients across the region and I look forward to the work ahead as we build and grow here.” Headquartered in Dallas/Fort Worth, TrailRunner International was founded in 2016 and today has offices in New York, Nashville, Shanghai, and Truckee, Calif. To date, it has supported clients in the region with teams drawn from its U.S. and China offices. Before Edelman, Hand held other senior leadership roles in the Gulf region, including at Finsbury, where he was regional managing director for the Middle East, Grayling, where he served as director for new market development, and H+K Strategies, where he was an account director. A native of Scotland, Hand graduated from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in corporate communication.

Speakers announced for the PRCA MENA Conference and Digital Awards 2023

PRCA MENA, the leading Public Relations Communications Association of the Middle East and North Africa, is thrilled to introduce the lineup of speakers for the highly anticipated PRCA MENA Conference 2023. This one-day event is scheduled to take place on November 8th, at the Movenpick Hotel & Residence in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.In alignment with the growing international engagement of Saudi Arabia, PRCA MENA has selected a panel of industry experts who are actively contributing to the country's transformation. Moderated by One Group’s Samya Hussain, some confirmed speakers include Mark Lamb from APCO Worldwide, Khansa'a Abu Naji from Meshbank, Nour Taher from intella, Hisham Jabrah from Hunak, Marco Binenti from Global Think Group, Abdulrahman Al Obailan from TTP, Anas Agag from New Native, Ahmed Al Abdulkarim from Bayan for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, among other renowned names which can be viewed here. Additional speakers will be unveiled in the upcoming days promising a diverse range of perspectives and insights.The PRCA MENA Conference 2023, organised in cooperation with One Group, PRCA MENA strategic partner, promises to be an unmissable event, offering a platform for robust discussions, knowledge exchange, and networking opportunities. Industry professionals and stakeholders from across the region and beyond are invited to join us on this momentous occasion.Stay tuned for further updates and announcements as we continue to shape an event that reflects the dynamic landscape of public relations and communications in the MENA region.

iSTYLE to open two more Apple Premium Partner stores in UAE

Following the resounding success of iSTYLE's first Apple premium Partner store in Dubai Marina Mall, iSTYLE will open two more Apple Premium Partner (APP) stores - one at Deira City Center in Dubai and the other at City Centre Al Zahia in Sharjah this weekend. The new outlets follow the global concept of Premium Partner stores, making them the perfect destination to shop the entire ecosystem of Apple products and accessories in a spacious and welcoming environment. The stores' professional teams speak multiple languages to give customers the best personalized service.Established in 2005, iSTYLE has 13 Apple Premium Reseller stores and will now have 3 new Apple Premium Partner stores, two in Dubai and one in Sharjah, taking the total count to 16 stores across the UAE. The store in Deira City Center is located on level 2, and the City Centre Al Zahia store is on level 1. "Our Apple Premium Partner stores will take the customer experience to the next level for all visitors across the two Emirates. We cater to the needs of all types of customers, including business enterprises and invite everyone to visit our new stores to enjoy the complete Apple product ecosystem and the full range of accessories and services. iSTYLE is a highly experienced retailer with over 60 dedicated Apple points of sale in 13 countries (Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa). It is part of the Midis Group with over 50 years of experience representing the leading global technology vendors in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa." said Nicolas Daher, General Manager, iSTYLE- Middle East and North Africa."Look for our new stores with the distinct new design where you can feel excellence in every detail and finish. Opening of the two stores gives residents and visitors easy access to experience the latest Apple products, exclusive workshops, group demo sessions and an Authorised Apple Service Center . Our professional iSTYLE team will be delighted to introduce all the features and benefits of the Apple products and services and help you to integrate Apple into your lifestyle." says Julia Manzyuk, Retail Manager, iSTYLE UAE.

W7Worldwide's inspiring tribute to Saudi Arabia's journey on National Day

In commemoration of the 93rd Saudi National Day, which is celebrated annually on September 23rd, W7Worldwide, an independent marketing communications consultancy agency in Saudi, has unveiled a captivating 1.05-minute video titled "What Leadership Looks Like in Saudi Arabia?" The video serves as a tribute to the Kingdom's outstanding accomplishments in 2023, achieved through the determination of its people and the visionary leadership that envisions a future marked by progress, development, and prosperity. Saudi Arabia, under the banner of Vision 2030, has solidified its position as a key player on both regional and international stages, undergoing remarkable transformations across various domains - from economic and technological advancements to sports and societal changes.Space ExplorationThe video commences by highlighting Saudi Arabia's historic achievements in space exploration. It follows the extraordinary journey of Saudi astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Alqarni to the International Space Station, culminating in the successful landing of their spacecraft in the Atlantic Ocean. Their mission, which encompassed 14 research projects on microgravity, promises significant benefits for humanity and positions the Kingdom at the forefront of space exploration. Notably, Rayyanah Barnawi made history as the first Arab woman to orbit the Earth.International AwardsThe video shines a spotlight on Saudi Arabia's young talents who participated in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) competition in the United States. An impressive 35 students from the Saudi Science and Engineering Team made the journey, returning with an impressive tally of 22 international awards. This achievement underscores the Kingdom's commitment to fostering excellence in education and scientific innovation.Sport ExcellenceSaudi Arabia's dedication to sports excellence is another highlight in the video. As part of the Vision 2030 initiative, the Saudi Pro League has attracted top international football stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar da Silva, and Karim Benzema, making it a premier destination for talented players. The Roshn League has captivated football fans worldwide, being broadcast in over 100 countries by 40 channels. Additionally, Saudi Arabia's investment in major golf events reflects its ambition to promote and popularize the sport on a global scale.Communication AchievementsThe video showcases Saudi Arabia's strides in the communication and technology sector, ranking 2nd among G20 members and 4th globally in Digital Systems Preparedness. This achievement is attributed to the nation's commitment to building a sustainable regulatory framework and embracing digital collaborative regulation to empower the digital economy. These efforts have bolstered the performance and productivity of various vital sectors.Ambitions and AccomplishmentsEmphasizing Saudi Arabia's pursuit of global leadership, the video conveys the message that the country aspires to elevate its name proudly across various domains, including the economy, politics, society, sports, technology, and legislation. It also highlights the empowerment of Saudi women and the encouragement of youth to take leadership roles in shaping the nation's future.The Saudis' DeterminationThe video concludes with a profound quote from His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: "The Saudis' strength is like that of Mount Tuwaiq, unbreakable unless this mountain is leveled and equaled to the ground." This quote symbolizes the unwavering determination of the Saudi people and the unbreakable bond between wise leadership and its citizens, with Mount Tuwaiq serving as an enduring testament to resilience and strength.W7Worldwide's video is a tribute to Saudi Arabia's remarkable journey and its unyielding commitment to progress, unity, and prosperity as it celebrates its 93rd National Day under the theme of "We Dream and Achieve."

Usetech is a bronze sponsor of GITEX 2023, the largest technology event in Dubai

GITEX Global, one of the largest technology events in the Middle East, will be held in the UAE from October 16-20, 2023, bringing together cutting-edge companies and startups under one roof.Usetech will present software development services, independent testing, IT consulting, business process automation and integration, design and engineering of design systems (UI, UX, and CX), and deep expertise in modern technologies to a wide audience:— Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Services, like analysis and consulting; AI project planning and development; Implementing an AI solution together with Machine Learning or Data Science; Model Development and Training; Integration and Deployment.Based on your needs and requests, we analyze your company's existing AI solutions using current technologies and tools, and advise the business on the implementation of AI-based solutions. Usetech can also support the seamless integration of ML models into existing systems and workflows. We help you deploy models in the cloud or in-place, depending on your needs.— Big Data Services. We provide a couple of Big Data development offerings to pave your project road to success. Cloud and cluster computing technologies and modern tools that we use will help us reach effective results. As part of this service, we can offer: Data engineering, Data analysis and visualization, Data and pipeline migration, Customer behavior, Fraud detection and security.We help businesses analyze the data and draw the right conclusions, as well as properly visualize it and present it to decision makers.— Data Science Services. Doubting in the need of using Data Science in your business? Or can't properly obtain and analyze data? Usetech can provide you with a consultation and highlight the benefits of Data Science for your business.— IoT Development Services, and BI Services. Usetech helps businesses become more efficient with these solutions and increase profits. Our experts, who have extensive experience in different areas and with different projects, will help improve business strategy and business behavior with BI and IoT solutions.During the event, you will be able to personally communicate with product and service architects, familiarize yourself with the products on demo stands, discuss implementation plans, agree on testing and ask questions. Our team will show you already implemented cases and digital products in real time, as well as select solutions tailored to your tasks and business.Usetech team will talk about the following products:Teal HR provides HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. It emphasizes the importance of HR automation and how it can benefit companies of any size. We offer a range of services, including HR management, payroll, and employee benefits. Teal HR also provides a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate, making it simple for businesses to manage their HR needs.UseBus AI-Integration is an integration platform with artificial intelligence that allows to form a unified IT landscape for companies of any size and from any industry. The platform's intuitive interface allows you to build your first corporate integration within 30 minutes of getting familiar with the platform. Architects, analysts, developers, and other specialists will be able to reduce time to market. Your business will become faster than your competitors, freeing up time and money to conquer new horizons. And Usetech team will help you do it.Octopus is an automatic server hardware balancer. With the help of Artificial Intelligence technologies, Octopus provides optimal mode of data center system resource consumption, allows you to increase server performance and save data center resources by at least 30%.Usetech team will be waiting for you at booth H26-4 in Hall 26, will answer your questions, and will also present branded gifts. Besides, every GITEX visitor will be able to take part in the drawing of valuable prizes.

Riyadh's Mazadak partners with MoEngage to expand services

Mazadak, a Riyadh-based auction application known for its exceptional service to both sellers and buyers, has announced its strategic partnership with MoEngage, a renowned marketing automation and customer engagement platform.Currently, the social commerce brand caters to an audience inclined towards luxury items like cars, watches, jewelry, and even jets. Moving forward, Mazadak will branch out into more categories like NFTs and real estate to address different segments. MoEngage aims to help Mazadak in engaging with both segments.Ayman Alkhalili, the Marketing Director at Mazadak, expressed his optimism about the partnership, saying, "While we have been serving a specific segment of individuals and B2B clients, our vision is to broaden our horizons and provide diverse options for all. We are committed to addressing key challenges such as personalized communication and delivering the right message to the right audience based on their preferences. This is where we believe MoEngage can play a pivotal role."MoEngage will also help Mazadak in tracking the behavior of the customer. By gaining insights from different customers, the auction app will be able to create accurate segments, leading to better engagement and higher conversions.Following the integration phase, Mazadak is gearing up to implement the RFM method and other data analytics techniques to gain deeper insights into customer preferences.Regarding the seamless integration, Ayman Alkhalili, Marketing Director at Mazadak, remarked, "The transition to MoEngage has proceeded smoothly and systematically. We are well on track to complete the onboarding process by September."“We are stoked to be the proud partners of Mazadak. The brand has always kept a customer-centric approach and with the help of our partnership, we further plan to strengthen it”, said Sweta Duseja, Director of Customer Success at MoEngage.Mazadak joins the growing list of 1200+ global companies across 35 countries, such as Azadea Group, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Azadea, Jazeera Airways, Alsaif Gallery, Apparel Group, Airtel, Ola, Oyo, and Mashreq, that trust MoEngage to deliver a consistent experience across multiple devices and touchpoints.

Veeam achieves International Common Criteria certification for cyber resilience

Veeam® Software, the leader in Data Protection and Ransomware Recovery, today announced the Veeam Data Platform has achieved Common Criteria certification from the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) and listing on the NIAP Product Compliant List (PCL), signifying a significant step towards reinforcing data security and ensuring confidentiality, integrity and availability of sensitive and critical information. Common Criteria certification assures partners, customers, and governments of Veeam’s commitment to quality and risk mitigation, and validates alignment with the most stringent cyber security regulatory requirements. In turn, this provides proven competitive advantage, fosters trust, and reflects dedication to long-term viability. More than 450,000 enterprises around the world rely on Veeam - the #1 provider worldwide in the Data Replication & Protection software market - to ensure cyber resilience and rapid recovery from ransomware and cyber-attacks.Common Criteria is a gold standard in cybersecurity, a collaborative effort developed in partnership with numerous countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, Singapore and the United States. This international endeavor combines the expertise of these nations to create a unified framework for evaluating the security attributes of IT products. It's a testament to global cooperation in the face of a common adversary: cyber threats.“State and government agencies are deploying Veeam technologies at record levels. As they continue to be a target for cyber incidents, which threaten national security, critical infrastructure, privacy, and citizens, agencies are turning to us for the most reliable, secure and proven solutions as the #1 trusted and preferred vendor,” said Anand Eswaran, CEO at Veeam. “Combatting cyber threats requires cross-industry partnership and the Common Criteria certification is a great example of how government bodies have come together to ensure technology meets the best standards to keep organizations safe. Veeam is dedicated to working alongside partners and alliances to innovate and create a united front against cyber threats and attacks. We are proud of the results of this rigorous testing and product evaluation, and that Veeam is a part of this global effort.”Attaining Common Criteria certification requires exhaustive testing, evaluation and validation. Each aspect of the product – from code lines to security mechanisms and operational functionalities – is meticulously examined to ensure alignment with exacting criteria. The demands of this certification process reflect the relentless efforts required to strengthen cyber resiliency as cyber-attacks and ransomware threats continue to accelerate.The Veeam Data Platform delivers more advanced data security, recovery, and hybrid cloud capabilities across the entire IT environment – Multi-Cloud, Virtual, Hybrid, Physical, SaaS (M365, Salesforce) and Kubernetes. Veeam Backup & Replication v12, the foundation for the Veeam Data Platform, provides best-in-class secure backup and fast reliable recovery from every cyber threat including ransomware, to keep business resilient and running. Through this platform approach, every environment however complex, can be secured and recovered rapidly when it counts most, defeating ransomware attacks and ensuring maximum efficiency and reliability for DoD networks. Veeam Data Platform Advanced Edition pairs the expansive backup and recovery features of Veeam Backup & Replication with powerful monitoring, analytics and compliance capabilities of Veeam ONE to provide users with intelligent monitoring and observability to identify and resolve any backup or recovery problems before they begin.

Snap to organise its global lens fest for AR developers

Snap has announced its Lens Fest Awards for AR developers. The event, to be live-streamed on November 9, 2023, will bring together creators, developers, and partners to celebrate augmented reality technology.This fest is an opportunity to bring together the vibrant Snap AR community of visionaries, innovators, and dreamers that are collaborating to push boundaries, redefine what’s possible with augmented reality, and build businesses along the way. The virtual sessions and networking will allow the global creator community to connect, learn and acknowledge best-in-class AR. Creatives can submit their lenses to compete with the world’s top AR creators at the Lens Fest Awards.The voting process will include judges from the Snap team who will bring their expert perspectives to select their favorite AR experiences this year.The categories include Breakthrough lens of the year, Snapchat lens of the year, Best of camera kit, and moonshot.

Mary Smiddy joins MSL Middle East as Communications Business Lead

MSL Middle East, a strategic communications agency and part of Publicis Groupe Middle East, has announced the appointment of Mary Smiddy as Business Lead at MSL Middle East. A senior communications leader with more than twenty-five years' experience in strategic consultancy, she has delivered high-impact communications strategies and campaigns representing multinational corporate, consumer & healthcare clients, throughout Europe, Asia and across the Middle East Region. In this role, Mary will be responsible for overseeing strategic client business, Publicis Groupe agency integration, and continued growth for MSL Middle East. Formerly, she was Senior Vice President at ASDA’A BCW Middle East, leading the regional Health & Wellness division."We are delighted to welcome Mary to the MSL Group. She is joining at a pivotal time, when earned media is growing in importance for the market and for Publicis Groupe. Mary’s regional and international experience will make her a go-to asset, complementing the Groupe’s ‘Power of One’ approach to integrated marketing and communications”, said MacLean Brodie, CEO, MSL Middle East .Among Mary’s notable career highlights are as the Global CEO of specialist communications agency, Tonic Life Communications, and with Weber Shandwick as Senior Vice President – Health & Wellness in Sydney and Singapore. Mary Smiddy, said: “I’m thrilled to join MSL at such an important time in its growth trajectory. The ‘Power of One’ approach encourages full agency integration within the Publicis Groupe, ultimately helping clients capitalize on the strengths of several channels as part of a holistic marketing & communications strategy.”

Keko Dubai set for transformation with new leadership

The creative agency Keko Dubai has named Patrick Pesch as Managing Director, and Alberto Rader as Executive Creative Director. As a result, the brand is poised for a fresh transformation under its new management team.By leveraging their collective expertise and creative vision, Keko aims to transform the way brands connect with audiences in the region.Launched in 2019, Keko Dubai is a creative agency that specialises in influencing modern affluent consumers with contagious creativity. The company is known for providing its clients growth solutions across the whole customer journey with a shared mission to bring the most compelling, engaging and relevant creativity into the world.Patrick Pesch has two decades of experience in international marketing and strategic management. Prior to joining Keko, Pesch was serving as Marketing Director of Porsche China and Ferrari Greater China. He was instrumental in developing the Chinese market for luxury sports car brands. His deep understanding of cultural nuances, consumer behaviours, and market dynamics has helped him develop effective strategies tailored to specific regions and target audiences.Joining as Executive Creative Director is Alberto Rader, who brings a wealth of experience and a forward-thinking approach to lead the creative team at Keko Dubai. Rader brings a vast amount of experience, having worked for top global clients such as Absolut, Porsche, Burberry, Converse, and Johnnie Walker, at various agencies in the role of Creative Director across Asia and Europe, where he most recently was leading the creative team of Paysafe.Brigitte Kemper, CEO, Keko Global, shared her excitement about the new Dubai team. She said: “Their exceptional leadership skills and unwavering commitment to excellence align perfectly with our global vision. With their guidance, Keko Dubai is poised to reach new heights and deliver exceptional results for our clients.”

Celebrate afternoon movie fun with Roxy Cinemas’ ‘After School Club’

Afternoons just got more fun! Roxy Cinemas invites young movie buffs to the new After School Club – an exciting after-school experience dedicated to kids and teens.  Playing the latest and greatest family, animation, and adventure movies, specially curated for kids of all ages, movie fans and their parents can watch their favorite characters come to life while enjoying UNLIMITED popcorn and a regular juice or soda for just AED 59.The After School Club starts right after school from Monday to Friday. For parents who prefer not to join in on the movie fun, can conveniently drop off their little ones at the ultimate after-school hangout spot.Available in Silver and Gold experience, the After School Club at Roxy Cinemas in Dubai Hills Mall, City Walk, The Beach, and Al Khawaneej Walk locations from 3:30pm to 5:30pm.Hop on board for an epic after-school adventure at Roxy Cinemas. It's non-stop fun, excitement and unlimited popcorn.This week’s line-up includes Gran Turismo, The Adventures of Jurassic Pet 2 and Cats in the Museum. Visit or via the Roxy Cinemas app to check out the latest movies playing.Follow the Roxy Cinema’s social media channels for the latest updates:Instagram: @TheROXYCinemasFacebook: @TheROXYCinemasBottom of FormTerms & ConditionsThe offer is valid from Mondays to Fridays onlyThe offer is valid for select movies from 3.30 to 5.30pmThe same price applies to the guardian – and yes, they are also eligible to get unlimited popcornNot available at Roxy Cinemas in BoxparkPopcorn can be refilled at the concession counters

Matific's EdTech Platform Embraced by 750+ UAE Schools for New Academic Year

As the new school year kicks off, Matific, a leading provider of interactive mathematics resources for students and a multiple award-winning global maths platform,  has observed a significant expansion and increasing impact with more than 750 schools across the UAE now integrating the platform into their educational programs. This development aligns seamlessly with the UAE government's digital education initiatives under the ‘We the UAE 2031’ vision, which outlines a 10-year development plan, including the establishment of an agile school system equipped with advanced educational technologies.The MENA region’s edtech industry has witnessed significant growth and innovation in recent years, with government initiatives focusing on enhancing education by leveraging technology — the industry is projected to be worth $7 billion by 2027. At the onset of the pandemic, the UAE government launched specialised edtech portals to support remote learning, successfully moving 1.2 million students online. Among MENAP countries, the UAE is the only country that has achieved a primary education level of over 60% for children, setting the perfect stage for edtech platforms like Matific.<img src='\136d570a7372381c06f7e243bcbf9dfb.png' class='content_image'>Key Highlights from Matific’s UAE data reports:Students have exhibited a substantial improvement in maths results during the academic year 2022-2023, especially in higher grades. Grade 6 students showed an impressive 38.7% improvement.Students achieved an average score of 3.6 out of 5 on the Matific platform, which is very close to the global average of 3.72. This highlights the adoption of edtech and a strong emphasis on education in the UAE has prepared its students to excel on the global stage.Of all maths activity tasks undertaken, UAE students had a completion rate of 69% compared to a global average of 64%. This is a positive sign, highlighting that students are diligent, motivated, and more engaged in their maths learning in the platform.A striking 41% of the learning time was immersed in Adventure Island, Matific's cutting-edge AI-driven personalized learning platform, where every student receives a tailored lesson plan. These statistics underscore the profound impact of personalised education, affirming that when educational journeys are uniquely designed for each child, the path to achievement is brilliantly illuminated.Matific's platform is available in 60 countries and supports 40+ languages, ensuring accessibility for a broad range of learners. This includes localisations in Arabic, to serve all curriculum-aligned mathematics activities in the UAE.<img src='\219b208913edb4ed396c04b59ee0b3ac.png' class='content_image'>Craig Shotland, CEO, Matific, commented: "The UAE's swift adaptation to technological advancements in education, especially in mathematics, is commendable. Matific's growth in the country, both in terms of adoption and the tangible improvement seen in student outcomes, highlights the potential of integrating innovative tools into the learning process. Harnessing gamified edtech platforms provides an engaging and effective pathway to enhance mathematics instruction, building a strong STEM foundation, which is estimated to cover 75% of jobs by 2050. Our primary aim remains to empower both educators and learners, and the positive feedback from the UAE is a significant milestone in that journey.”Aisling Grogan, Primary Maths Lead, Bateen World Academy - Aldar Education, commented: “We have just begun using Matific in our school, and it has been smooth sailing in the setup. The Matific Team has been extremely helpful in answering all of my questions and queries. The platform offers fun, interactive activities, and the children are eager to log in to complete school work. They love seeing the immediate feedback! As a teacher, it is extremely useful for tracking student engagement and progress. Matific caters to all learners needs, with enough support for lower abilities and challenge for higher abilities. It strengthens parental engagement as students can log in at home to complete homework assignments, and it is mapped to the IB curriculum. I would highly recommend it if you are looking for an inquiry-based programme.”Consistently evolving its offerings, Matific will soon be launching the powerful Admin Dashboard globally, which equips educators with a comprehensive view of the platform’s usage across the school. The feature provides essential data points, such as the total number of initiated activities, time spent on tasks, and the frequency of student and teacher logins. The tool also offers insights into each class's performance and identifies areas that require immediate attention, thus enabling quick and informed academic interventions.

Salesforce announces the new Einstein 1 platform

Dubai: Salesforce has announced the Einstein 1 Platform, which features major advancements for Salesforce Data Cloud and Einstein AI capabilities, all built on Salesforce’s underlying metadata framework. A trusted AI platform for customer companies, the Einstein 1 Platform gives companies the ability to safely connect any data to build AI-powered apps with low-code and deliver entirely new CRM experiences.“A company’s AI strategy is only as good as its data strategy,” said Parker Harris, Co-Founder and CTO, Salesforce. “We pioneered the metadata framework nearly 25 years ago to seamlessly bridge data across applications. It’s the connective tissue that fuels innovation. Now, with Data Cloud and Einstein AI native on the Einstein 1 Platform, companies can easily create AI-powered apps and workflows that supercharge productivity, reduce costs, and deliver amazing customer experiences.”Why it matters: Customer data is highly fragmented. On average, organizations use 1,061 different applications, yet only 29% of them are integrated. Enterprise data stacks have grown more complex, and prior computing revolutions – cloud, social, and mobile – have generated massive, siloed islands of customer data.Salesforce’s original metadata framework helps companies organize and understand data across Salesforce applications – the equivalent of having a common language so different applications built on the core platform can communicate with each other. It now creates a unified view of the data across an enterprise regardless of how that data is structured in disparate systems by mapping it to the Salesforce metadata framework.This allows organizations to customize every user experience and action their data using a variety of low-code platform services – including Einstein for AI predictions and content generation; Flow for automation; and Lightning for user interfaces. These customizations are instantly available to the rest of the organization’s core applications without having to write costly and brittle integration code.Additionally, Salesforce delivers automatic upgrades three times per year, and the metadata framework prevents any integrations, customizations, or security models from breaking. Organizations can easily add, extend, and build on top of Salesforce as the platform evolves.This allows organizations to customize every user experience and action their data using a variety of low-code platform services – including Einstein for AI predictions and content generation; Flow for automation; and Lightning for user interfaces. These customizations are instantly available to the rest of the organization’s core applications without having to write costly and brittle integration code.Additionally, Salesforce delivers automatic upgrades three times per year, and the metadata framework prevents any integrations, customizations, or security models from breaking. Organizations can easily add, extend, and build on top of Salesforce as the platform evolves.Einstein 1 Data Cloud Supports Big Data Scale and High Speed Automation to Power a New Wave of Data-Driven AI ApplicationsData Cloud – Salesforce’s real-time hyperscale data engine – unifies and harmonizes customer data, enterprise content, telemetry data, Slack conversations, and other structured and unstructured data to create a single view of the customer. The platform is already processing 30 trillion transactions per month, and connecting and unifying 100 billion records every day.With the new Data Cloud now natively integrated with the Einstein 1 Platform, companies can unlock siloed data in entirely new ways; create rich, unified customer profiles; and deliver entirely new CRM experiences. Data at Scale: The Einstein 1 Platform has expanded to support thousands of metadata-enabled objects per customer, each capable of having trillions of rows. In addition, Marketing Cloud and Commerce Cloud, consumer-scale technology stacks that joined Salesforce’s Customer 360 portfolio via acquisitions, have been re-engineered onto the Einstein 1 Platform.Automation at Scale: Now massive volumes of data can be brought into the Einstein 1 Platform from other systems and immediately made available as actionable Salesforce objects. Flows can be triggered by any change on any object at scale, whether it’s an event coming from an IOT device, a computed insight, or an AI prediction – up to 20,000 events per second – and can interact with any system in the enterprise, including legacy systems, through MuleSoft.Analytics at Scale: Salesforce offers a variety of insights and analytics solutions for different use cases — including Reports and Dashboards, Tableau, CRM Analytics, and Marketing Cloud Reports. With the Einstein 1 Platform’s common metadata schema and access model, all of these solutions can work on the same data at scale — providing rich insights for any use case.Salesforce also announced that every customer with Enterprise Edition or above can now get started with Data Cloud at no cost. Customers can started ingesting, harmonizing, and exploring their data with Data Cloud and Tableau to extend the power of their data across every line of business and jumpstart their AI journey.Einstein Delivers a Generative AI-powered Conversational Assistant – Baked Seamlessly Into the Flow of Work To Drive Significant Productivity Gains Salesforce’s next generation of Einstein brings a conversational AI assistant to every CRM application and customer experience, including:Einstein Copilot: A new and trusted out-of-the-box conversational AI assistant built into the user experience of every Salesforce application. Einstein Copilot will drive productivity by assisting users within their flow of work, enabling them to ask questions in natural language, and receive relevant and trustworthy answers that are grounded in secure proprietary company data from Data Cloud. In addition, Einstein Copilot proactively takes actions and offers additional options beyond the user’s query – such as providing a recommended action plan after a sales call, checking a consumer’s order status, or changing the shipping date. Einstein Copilot Studio: An easy new way for companies to build an entirely new generation of AI-powered apps with custom prompts, skills, and AI models to close sales deals faster, streamline customer service, auto-create websites based on personalized browsing history, or turn natural language prompts into code, as well as hundreds of other business tasks. Einstein Copilot Studio also provides configurability to make Einstein Copilot available for use across consumer-facing channels like websites to power real-time chat, or integrate with messaging platforms like Slack, WhatsApp, or SMS.Salesforce also announced that every customer with Enterprise Edition or above can now get started with Data Cloud at no cost. Customers can started ingesting, harmonizing, and exploring their data with Data Cloud and Tableau to extend the power of their data across every line of business and jumpstart their AI journey.Einstein Delivers a Generative AI-powered Conversational Assistant – Baked Seamlessly Into the Flow of Work To Drive Significant Productivity Gains Salesforce’s next generation of Einstein brings a conversational AI assistant to every CRM application and customer experience, including:Einstein Copilot: A new and trusted out-of-the-box conversational AI assistant built into the user experience of every Salesforce application. Einstein Copilot will drive productivity by assisting users within their flow of work, enabling them to ask questions in natural language, and receive relevant and trustworthy answers that are grounded in secure proprietary company data from Data Cloud. In addition, Einstein Copilot proactively takes actions and offers additional options beyond the user’s query – such as providing a recommended action plan after a sales call, checking a consumer’s order status, or changing the shipping date. Einstein Copilot Studio: An easy new way for companies to build an entirely new generation of AI-powered apps with custom prompts, skills, and AI models to close sales deals faster, streamline customer service, auto-create websites based on personalized browsing history, or turn natural language prompts into code, as well as hundreds of other business tasks. Einstein Copilot Studio also provides configurability to make Einstein Copilot available for use across consumer-facing channels like websites to power real-time chat, or integrate with messaging platforms like Slack, WhatsApp, or SMS.

Top US authors sue OpenAI over ChatGPT training

A group of prominent authors has taken OpenAI to court in federal court in Manhattan, accusing the company of unlawfully utilizing their literary works to train its widely popular AI conversational model ChatGPT.The group comprises writers such as John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, George Saunders, Jonathan Franzen, and George RR Martin, the writer of "Game of Thrones."  This class-action lawsuit, filed by the Authors Guild on Tuesday, is the latest in a series of similar suits filed by writers, visual artists, and source code owners against providers of generative AI technologies. In addition to the Microsoft-backed OpenAI, there are parallel lawsuits in progress against Meta Platforms and Stability AI, centered around the data utilized for training their respective AI systems.OpenAI and its defenders of AI argue that their utilization of data gleaned from the treasure-trove of the internet falls under the gambit of fair use, as per the US copyright law.The lawsuit alleges that the datasets deployed by OpenAI to train its large language model in response to human prompts comprised of text from the authors' books which may have been taken from online "pirate" book sources.An OpenAI spokesperson stated that it 'respects' authors' rights and is having productive conversations "with many creators around the world, including the Authors Guild."

Fashion and lifestyle conference Hia Hub returns for its third edition

The highly anticipated Hia Hub is back for its third edition from 3-7 November 2023, in Riyadh’s JAX District. Hia Hub is set to bring together some of the world’s most celebrated industry pioneers, artists, experts, and brands, all converging to showcase the latest trends in fashion, beauty, art, design, and luxury. As the region’s largest fashion and lifestyle conference, Hia Hub aims to inspire the upcoming generation of fashion and beauty entrepreneurs through engaging discussions, masterclasses, workshops, interactive exhibitions, and live performances. Building on the notable success of Hia’s inaugural event in 2021, Hia Hub’s second edition came in 2022 as a flagship conference in the region. It featured a lineup of 13 talks and panels along with three masterclasses led by renowned leaders in fashion and beauty such as Image Architect Law Roach, Celebrity Makeup Artist Mary Phillips, Supermodel and Actress Amber Valetta, Fashion Designer Zac Posen, and Entrepreneur and Digital Influencer Karen Wazen. In addition, the event boasted nine workshops, four exhibits, and forged 34 partnerships with major international brands like Piaget, Richard Mille, Michael Kors, Threads, Shiseido, Swarovski, and Tanagra. Bigger and bolder, the third edition of Hia Hub will pay tribute to the contributions the Arab community has made to the world of fashion, art, and design. Alongside the planned interactive exhibitions, retail opportunities and entertainment, including live musical performances, Hia Hub is joining forces with the Saudi Fashion Commission’s annual event, Fashion Futures, to expand the conferences programming and deepen collaboration. Established in 2019, Fashion Futures is a leading platform for learning, facilitating discussions and fostering global exchange within Saudi Arabia’s fast-growing fashion ecosystem. In 2022, the event gathered fashion enthusiasts to engage in insightful conversations on entrepreneurship, innovation, sustainability, diversity and culture. This year, Fashion Futures programme will focus on three main themes, including owning your story, revolutionizing the industry, and fusing purpose with creativity. It will also host additional retail activations by local Saudi brands and feature pop-up events around Riyadh. More details to come in the upcoming months. Mike Fairburn, Managing Director of SRMGx, the creators and organizers of Hia Hub and the experiential arm of SRMG, said: “Hia Hub is back for its third edition. It’s bigger and bolder this year, bringing together some of the regional and global fashion industry’s most accomplished business leaders, designers, celebrities, and icons, alongside leading fashion houses and brands. It is a truly unique 5-day event – a dynamic programme of seminars, talks, workshops, masterclasses, and live performances – that blends the latest trends and perspectives in fashion, art, design, music and contemporary culture. At SRMGx, our mission is to foster deeper connections with audiences and cultures by creating impactful and cutting-edge live experiences. We connect brands with new audiences through the creation of unique live and experiential formats, such as Hia Hub - an original conference designed and programmed around our iconic brand, Hia Magazine.”Burak Çakmak, CEO of the Fashion Commission, said: “With the return of Fashion Futures, we are taking another step towards driving the development of Saudi’s fast-emerging fashion industry, unlocking opportunities and supporting our most promising creative talents. We look forward to welcoming some of the best and brightest minds to join us at Hia Hub this November.”Guests can register at to apply for early bird tickets and be the first to learn about workshops, masterclasses, and panels.This year, Hia Hub will introduce a range of tailored ticketing options, including an all-access VIP ticket, which will provide guests with exclusive backstage access and priority admission to all masterclasses, as well as general admission tickets and individual day passes.

Dandelion unveils an exclusive new meeting ground for UAE’s opinion leaders

Dandelion International Diplomatic Business Club is making its presence felt in Dubai by opening its UAE chapter in the city. The grand opening will take place in an invitees-only event to be held at Belcanto Restaurant at Dubai Opera on September 21, 2023.A closed gathering for about 120 selected invitees, the opening ceremony is expected to be attended by a number of high-profile guests including consuls, ambassadors, politicians, investors, entrepreneurs and innovation leaders from different countries. The countries of origin of this elite group of guests ranges from the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Morocco, Egypt to Singapore, India, Nigeria, Cameroon and many more.Dandelion is a highly selective platform that seeks to spark innovation and promote greater cooperation in the global business community. Dandelion members are either invited by the Club’s management or recommended by existing members, and enjoy a host of exclusive services geared towards international business development, starting from business and investment consulting to legal and accounting services, banking and cryptocurrency services to a startup incubator and even an insurance fund to cover business risks.In the words of Dr. Dmitry Zaytsev, the Founder and the moving spirit of the Club, “Dandelion is all about big ideas. It is a carefully designed, no-nonsense meeting ground for the best minds in business.”Dandelion Co-founder and reputed author Sergey Dvoryanov added, “There’s a reason we call ourselves Dandelion: we want to birth ideas that will spread all over and transform the world.”The Club expects to cover 50 countries in the near term, and its future initiatives include a Spiritual Platform for opinion leaders, a global automotive rally and an investment platform.

Miral launches robust group CSR strategy with over 80 initiatives

Miral, Abu Dhabi’s leading creator of immersive destinations and experiences, today announced the launch of its robust Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy for the group, focused on creating positive impact across society. Inspired by its long-standing commitment to the people and communities it serves, the strategy will launch and implement over 80 economic, social and environment initiatives and programmes over the next two years, across the business and all the Group’s subsidiaries - Miral Experiences, Miral Destinations, Yas Asset Management.Mohamed Abdalla Al Zaabi, Group CEO, Miral, commented: “Miral has always been committed to creating world-leading experiences that not only accelerate the realization of the Emirate’s tourism growth and contribution to the industry’s ecosystem, but also to have a positive impact on the communities in which we operate. With the launch of this new group strategy and framework, we are underpinning our commitment, making it integral to how we operate and ensuring that we are taking crucial action across our entire business, to benefit three key groups – people, community, and the environment – helping to achieve our long-term goal of sustainable development. By aligning our focus areas with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we can help establish and promote Abu Dhabi’s leading position as a global destination in eco-tourism and sustainable tourism.”In the last few years CSR has seen increasing relevance to businesses and stakeholders across the world. In the UAE, the CSR UAE Fund was formed in 2018 with the vision to establish the UAE as a global leader in Corporate Social Responsibility. As such, Miral has developed its group strategy to focus on contributing towards society and the environment through innovative and sustainable community interventions, closely aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and overseen by a dedicated steering committee. Over the next two years, Miral Group will aim to become a more socially responsible organization by promoting, supporting, and implementing more than 80 strategic and transformative initiatives for the communities in the areas it operates, underpinned by robust measurement mechanisms for continuous improvement.The group strategy is devised under eight key pillars which directly align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals – Skill Development & Livelihood, Education, Social Welfare, Health & Wellness, Promotion of Sports, Arts, Culture & Tourism, Environment and Animal Welfare. These pillars are also aligned with Miral Group’s brand pillars which it launched along with its new visual identity in October last year – people, the importance of the commitment and passion of Miral’s employees to bring to life its ideas and how Miral is dedicated to their development; community, how Miral’s experiences and destinations positively impact the communities and cultures it serves; and environment, reflecting how Miral considers the environmental impact of its destinations and experiences and balances growth with a sustainable future.Miral Group will continue to announce and launch new initiatives under its group CSR Strategy over the coming months as well as key progress milestones. Guided by its ambition to be a customer-centric, progressive, and efficient organisation, beyond its group CSR commitments Miral’s strategy for the next five years will be fuelled by its focus on continuing to grow and develop Yas Island as a successful destination as well as delivering new leisure and entertainment destinations and ventures that generate sustainable value, while contributing to the diversification of Abu Dhabi’s economy.

Amazon unveils next generation Echo Show 8

Amazon today introduced a new Echo Device designed for even more personalized, proactive and intuitive Alexa experiences at home with the next-generation Echo Show 8. Dr. Raf Fatani, Regional General Manager, Alexa, Amazon MENA, said: “We are thrilled to bring the latest Echo Show 8 to our customers in the region, a true upgrade on previous generations. The improved processor and enhanced audio with more powerful cameras will make for better and clearer video interactions. The Adaptive Content feature adjusts on-screen content based on proximity to the device – a real gamechanger that makes it even more easy to seamlessly integrate the new Echo Show 8 into our customers’ daily lifestyle.”Echo Show 8—New Design, Spatial Audio, and built-in smart home hub The new Echo Show 8 has been upgraded inside and out. A new industrial design, includes with edge-to-edge glass and soft curvatures, while an improved processor delivers even faster display responses than the previous generation. An enhanced audio experience provides improved clarity and bass, with room adaptation technology and spatial audio processing for optimal room-filling sound. Video calls are even better with a centered 13-megapixel camera, plus an enhanced audio pipeline which minimizes background noise from around the home. Additionally, a built-in smart home hub includes support for Zigbee, Sidewalk, Thread, Bluetooth, and Matter, enabling easy control of compatible lights, locks, and sensors. All-new home screen experience with Adaptive ContentEcho Show 8 features Adaptive Content—a new home screen experience that uses on-device computer vision technology to adjust on-screen content based on a customer’s proximity to the device. With this experience, a customer positioned across the room will see content that is easily viewed from a distance—such as a simplified news headline or a large clock display—with the screen automatically transitioning to a more detailed view as they approach the device. If the customer is enrolled in visual ID, the content will also be personalized to them, highlighting things like a recent playlist. Adaptive Content will be available on Echo Show 8 (2nd and 3rd generation) next month and roll out to other Echo Show devices next year.Built with Privacy in MindEcho devices are designed with customer privacy in mind and include multiple layers of privacy controls. Echo devices include built-in camera shutters and a microphone on/off button. Customers have full control over their voice recordings and can view, hear, or delete them at any time.

Safexpay ventures into Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar

Mumbai: Safexpay, a leading digital payments company, announces the expansion of its tailored suite of payment solutions in three key GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries- Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman to cater to the unique needs of businesses and consumers in the region. This strategic move represents a significant step forward in Safexpay's mission to reshape the future of payments, solutions and foster innovation in these dynamic Middle Eastern markets.The product offerings in these nations encompass a comprehensive range of solutions designed to cater to specific market requirements. . These include, a White Labelled Payment aggregation, Payouts solutions, contactless payments like Facial Recognition-Based Payments, and Single-Click Checkout features viz. Aasaan.To support its expansion into the GCC region, Safexpay has strategically partnered with prominent organisations in the UAE, such as Magnati, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Paynest, Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Rakbank and Network International. These partnerships are instrumental in enabling Safexpay to on-board merchants seamlessly and provide tailor-made solutions for their businesses, ensuring that their expertise and value proposition reach the right players in the market.Safexpay is committed to investing approximately 10 million USD in the GCC region to ensure the success of its operations and provide world-class payment solutions. The company anticipates remarkable growth in the GCC region, with expectations of achieving an annual growth rate of 80-100% by 2025."Our focus has always been on creating a global network effect and contributing to the fintech and techfin space by innovative solutions. The decision to target Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman was a natural progression for Safexpay. The GCC countries, including the UAE, Qatar, Oman, and KSA, are witnessing exponential growth in contactless payments and are actively exploring innovative ways to serve consumers and businesses. This presents a significant opportunity for Safexpay to make a meaningful impact. We aim to on-board around 5000 merchants over the next 2-3 years, further cementing its presence in these markets, our value proposition is offering omnichannel platform for merchants, which is first of its kind in GCC markets" stated Ravi Gupta, Founder and CEO at Safexpay.With an estimated count of 4 million Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), the substantial prospective customer market extends across Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and the UAE. Safexpay envisions becoming the preferred payment service provider for customised solutions in the fintech space within the region. It embodies the “India to the world” sentiment with commitment to establishing an indelible mark in the international fintech space by catering to the unique needs of businesses and consumers in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman. Moreover, Safexpay has set its sights on further expansion into neighbouring markets once its presence is well-established in the GCC region. This expansion plan aligns with the company's strategy of creating a strong foothold before broadening its reach.

UAE small businesses eye global expansion as key to growth, Visa study finds

Visa (NYSE: V) today revealed findings from the seventh edition of its Global Back to Business Study, which found that a majority of surveyed small and micro businesses (SMBs) plan to prioritize cross-border sales as they look to scale to new geographies. Additionally, the survey found that a growing number of consumers are embracing cashless transactions, with nearly 75% of surveyed shoppers predicting they will use digital payments more frequently this year.“It used to be that only big businesses could scale to access customers across the country or around the world, but today’s small business owner can be virtually borderless,” said Dr. Saeeda Jaffar, Visa’s SVP and Group Country Manager for GCC. “At Visa, we’re seeing the small business mindset shift from survival mode to growth mode, as SMBs harness the power of digital payments to improve efficiencies, reach new audiences and simply thrive in today’s increasingly digital world.”Looking beyond pandemic-era challenges to the full arc of opportunities ahead, Visa’s Global Back to Business Study surveyed small business owners and consumers in ten markets, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and United States (US). Key insights include:The world is their marketplace. Ninety-three percent of surveyed business owners in the UAE cited expanding into new geographies as a focus for growth (compared to 79% globally). A high number (83% vs. 72% globally) of consumers said they already feel comfortable buying across borders.Leaving paper behind. While 100% (vs. 95% globally) of small business owners surveyed planned to be cashless “someday,” 42% (vs. 51% globally) planned to make that shift in the next two years. Consumers lead this shift, with 51% (vs. 55% globally) of those surveyed predicting they will use digital payments more in the coming year.Shopping small. Seventy percent of consumers (vs. 49% globally) intended to shop more at local businesses this year as they look to support the local economy (54%).Shopping sustainable. An overwhelming 92% of UAE shoppers say a business’s sustainability practices have at least somewhat of an impact on their decision to purchase from them (compared to 68% globally). Nearly all (96%) are willing to pay more for products or services to ensure they are sustainable (vs. 77% globally).The To Do list. Business owners cited offering new products or services (44%), investing more in marketing (42%), and increasing social media presence (41%) as the top opportunities to reach new customers, with 37% eyeing accepting new forms of payment as a crucial area that can help them improve their business.Powering SMB Growth Globally, Year-RoundSmall businesses are anything but small to Visa. Through a variety of localized programs and solutions, Visa enables small business owners to meet the rapidly changing demands of global commerce and consumer needs. Visa offers numerous payment services designed to help SMBs pay and get paid, including Visa Business credit and debit cards through associated financial institutions, business and payment management tools, fraud and security services, among many other solutions. Visa also provides financial education and business skills training, including Practical Business Skills globally, in addition to initiatives like She’s Next.In 2020, Visa Foundation announced a five-year, $200 million strategic commitment to support the establishment and growth of thriving small and micro businesses with a focus on women entrepreneurs. Through its investments and grant-making activity, Visa Foundation partners with organizations that provide catalytic capital, capacity building and support services. Additionally, Visa Foundation uses capital as a tool to enable the flow of investment capital to gender diverse SMBs.Additional resources for small and micro businesses can be found on the Visa Small Business Hub.Methodology: Visa Global Back to Business StudyVisa’s Global Back to Business Study was conducted by Wakefield Research in March/April 2023 and surveyed 2,250 small business owners with 100 employees or fewer in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, UAE, and the US. The consumer section surveyed 1,000 adults ages 18+ in the US, and 500 adults ages 18+ in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, and UAE.

Anchanto unveils growth plans to sustain Middle East's e-commerce appetite

 E-commerce and logistics SaaS company Anchanto confirmed its successful expansion in the Middle East with the successive signing of local retail and logistics leaders Jeebly, Between, and Digitalstores. With this, Anchanto is set to become one of the leading providers of e-commerce and logistics solutions in the region, less than 18 months after its launch.Vaibhav Dabhade, Co-Founder and CEO of Anchanto, said: “The Middle East’s e-commerce journey is at a turning point. On the logistics side, we are witnessing a wave of traditional logistics companies and last mile carriers turning towards e-commerce fulfilment services. On the retail front, consumers are showing a strong appetite for offline and online shopping, leading distributors to implement strong Omnichannel strategies." He added that "both situations require businesses to accelerate the digitization of their operations by implementing purpose-built solutions that are agile, scalable, and stable enough to fuel their growth. This is where Anchanto comes in and finds success”.Anchanto’s expansion relies on three important pillars that the company plans on strengthening. First, with the hiring and growth of a local team, the SaaS company benefits from a unique proximity with its customers and can offer them close post-sales support and local expertise, two essential advantages considering the strategic importance of its clients’ projects. Second, the development of local alliances. After collaborating with local consulting companies and associations, Anchanto will be launching new strategic partnerships. Finally, investing into the connectivity of its products to the local sales channels and carriers, a key component and differentiator of Anchanto’s offering.Abdalla Alshamsi, CEO at Digitalstores said "Anchanto's seamless and swift integrations with our current systems, along with their established carrier and channel connections, played a pivotal role in our decision-making process. As our company, Digitalstores, experiences rapid growth and evolving requirements, the international experience, flexibility, and regional UAE presence of Anchanto's teams also offer us the assurance to advance our operations effectively.”Anchanto's future expansion plans include growing the Dubai team and expanding to neighboring countries in the Middle East including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.According to Abhimanyu Kashikar, Anchanto COO & Co-Founder, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was the obvious next step of our expansion into the Middle East. Word of the successful signing and onboarding of household names in the UAE travelled to the KSA and allowed us to fast-track the signing of our first clients there. Every third contract we sign in the region, is from KSA. We are now doubling down our product development and hiring efforts to better serve this market and accompany its spectacular e-commerce growth”.

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

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

AW Rostamani Group becomes official Royal Enfield distributor in UAE

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

Truecaller Reveals New Brand Identity and Enhanced AI Fraud Prevention Features

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

Prince relaunches in the UAE with Leader Sport partnership

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

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

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

BackLite Media and Place Exchange Collaborate for Programmatic OOH Advancements

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

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

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

Leo Burnett wins PUMA account for the Middle East

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wunderman Thompson takes AI help to evaluate emotional responses to ads

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

Alif expands into the UAE with the launch of Alif Pay

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

Dubai Business Forum will explore the future of global economy

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

Dentsu MENA partners with Abtaluna to support superheroes fighting cancer

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

Zilliqa Group relaunches metaverse venture as MetaMinds

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

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

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

Google Lens is coming to Bard in Arabic

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

StashAway and Lean technologies streamline investing through payments

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

Publicis Groupe Middle East appoints Elie Milan as Chief Performance Officer

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

SICO appoints Maryam AlMohri as acting Chief Risk Officer

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

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

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