Elias Pertoft announced as General Manager of Waldorf Astoria Seychelles Platte

London:  Waldorf Astoria Seychelles Platte Island is delighted to announce the appointment of Elias Pertoft as General Manager of the soon-to-open resort. He brings a wealth of luxury hospitality experience spanning over 16 years across Asia and the Caribbean. Elias will lead a team of motivated individuals to create a unique sense of place for guests, and curate one-of-a-kind experiences. Jan van der Putten, vice president, Operations, Africa and Indian Ocean, Hilton said: “I am pleased to welcome Elias to his new role, as we open the first Waldorf Astoria resort in the Seychelles. Waldorf Astoria Seychelles Platte Island is set to become a unique, eco-friendly destination, and reaffirms Hilton’s Travel with Purpose commitment to drive responsible travel and tourism across our value chain and operations.” “With Elias’ expertise and passion for hospitality, I am confident that under his guidance, the resort will take guests on a transformative journey that not only indulges in the beauty of Seychelles but also focuses on its preservation and prosperity” added Jan. Slated to open in late 2023, Waldorf Astoria Seychelles Platte Island will feature a collection of 50 seafront villas, each equipped with its own private pool and personal concierge. It will also offer six exquisite restaurants and bars, exceptional spa facilities and conservation and nature safaris. Elias Pertoft, general manager, Waldorf Astoria Seychelles Platte Island, said: “I am thrilled to be working on the one-of-a kind Platte Island and leading a team dedicated to conserving the rich ecosystem that surrounds us. Our guests will have an extraordinary experience as they join turtle patrols, witness hawksbill turtles laying eggs and embark on blue safaris to spot whales, manta rays and much more. We eagerly await the arrival of our guests to this remarkable destination where nature's wonders and luxury hospitality intertwine harmoniously.” Since starting his career working for Aman Resorts on Moyo Island in Indonesia, Elias has carved a successful career, working at a range of prestigious hotel brands. In 2017, as Managing Director of the Rosewood Luang Prabang, Elias led the property to being named the number one destination resort in Laos by TripAdvisor and the 10th best hotel in the world by Condé Nast Traveller. As General Manager at Necker Island, Elias reopened the private island resort after a rebuild following hurricane Irma. Waldorf Astoria Seychelles Platte Island is set to create a new benchmark for luxury in the region and lies just over 130 kilometres south of Mahé, in a pristine atoll fringed by palm forests, migratory seabirds and over 700 hawksbill turtles, protected by its own lagoon and coral reef. Set against the backdrop of paradise, guests will be able to enjoy world-class fly fishing, exhilarating surfing, and captivating scuba diving adventures. Enthusiasts of marine wonders will be captivated by the 14 kilometre-wide lagoon and an aquatic haven serving as a nursery for a kaleidoscope of underwater creatures. The resort embodies sustainable luxury and is powered by solar energy. In partnership with the Island Conservation Society, WaldorfAstoria Seychelles Platte Island is committed to preserving Seychelles' natural splendor, while also providing the perfect getaway for guests seeking the ultimate holiday adventure.

Abu Dhabi now available for virtual exploration

Abu Dhabi:  Yas Island is ready to be discovered by a global online audience as it launches unique virtual experiences today, allowing users from around the world to digitally explore Abu Dhabi’s premier entertainment and leisure hub and other iconic landmarks in the emirate. The initiative is part of a pioneering collaboration between the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), Aldar, Miral, twofour54, and Ethara (formerly Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management and Flash Entertainment).The virtual Yas Island experience was developed by Super League (Nasdaq: SLGG) and initially breaks through on leading platform Roblox, accessible at Yas Island Tycoon - Roblox. Users’ digital avatars take a thrilling journey through key Abu Dhabi landmarks on Yas Island and beyond, including SeaWorld Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuit, Etihad Park, Aldar Square, twofour54’s Yas Creative Hub, and an Experience Abu Dhabi dedicated area featuring Louvre Abu Dhabi, Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Sir Bani Yas Island, Al Ain Oasis and Al Jahili Fort. Players will be able to traverse the 25-square-kilometre virtual site and experience a playable, socially engaging world designed to entertain and inform audiences globally.Throughout a blend of interactive experiences, immersive environments, games, and soon to come one-of-a-kind events, players can explore and build cultural and entertainment attractions within Abu Dhabi. As players progress through the virtual destination and its attractions, they will experience more adventures such as theme park rides, driving across Yas Island in race cars and constructing virtual homes, to name a few. Customisable avatars and surprise awards are part of every player’s personalised adventure. This gamified experience will continually evolve with new partnerships, collaborations and experiences. Rashed Al Omaira, Chief Commercial Officer at Aldar Development, said: "The virtual Yas Island experience unlocks new opportunities for a global audience to explore the island as a world-class destination to live, visit, and work. The effective use of innovative content creation not only enables us to tell the story of Abu Dhabi but also allows people around the world to become immersed in it. We are excited to see people interact with Aldar’s assets on Yas Island in the virtual world and hope it inspires them to take a trip to Abu Dhabi soon.”Mark Whitehead, CEO of twofour54, said: “Through our community of leading international and regional media businesses, we see first-hand that demand for content that tells Abu Dhabi’s inspiring story has never been higher. The opportunity to explore one of the emirate’s most vibrant destinations using a highly interactive platform is a perfect way to meet this demand. It is yet another demonstration of virtual content creation happening in Abu Dhabi.”Saif Rashid Al Noaimi, CEO of Ethara, said “At Ethara, our ambition is to be the gatekeepers of first-to-market events and to unlock unique opportunities in events, activations, and entertainment. We are delighted to be part of this unique and innovative experience and are proud to be leading the way for the event industry in the region. The virtual Yas Island experience is in line with both our vision at Ethara and Yas Island’s to highlight itself as a global creative hub and leading entertainment destination. We are constantly seeking ways to deliver thrilling experiences for our fans, and delivering moments that matter.”Visit the Yas Island virtual experience at Yas Island Tycoon - Roblox.-Ends-About the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu DhabiThe Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) drives the sustainable growth of Abu Dhabi’s culture and tourism sectors, fuels economic progress and helps achieve Abu Dhabi’s wider global ambitions. By working in partnership with the organizations that define the emirate’s position as a leading international destination, DCT Abu Dhabi strives to unite the ecosystem around a shared vision of the emirate’s potential, coordinate effort and investment, deliver innovative solutions, and use the best tools, policies and systems to support the culture, creative and tourism industries.DCT Abu Dhabi’s vision is defined by the emirate’s people, heritage and landscape. We work to enhance Abu Dhabi’s status as a place of authenticity, innovation, and unparalleled experiences, represented by its living traditions of hospitality, pioneering initiatives and creative thought.

Sharjah Chamber launches 'Back to School Offers

Sharjah: The Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) today launched the "Back to School Offers" as part of its ongoing Sharjah Summer Promotions 2023, offering Sharjah students and parents remarkable deals on school supplies with significant discounts of up to 75% on various top-quality products in the school and educational segments.Set to run until September 3, the event will see vast participation from shopping malls, bookstores, and stationery stores throughout all cities within the Emirate of Sharjah. Shoppers are in for a plethora of shopping surprises, including steep markdowns and invaluable deals on a broad spectrum of school essentials, encompassing clothing, school bags, stationery, and pens.Abdulaziz Mohammed Shattaf, Assistant Director-General of the Communication and Business Sector at the Sharjah Chamber, emphasised that the annual "Back to School Offers" is a pivotal initiative that the Sharjah Chamber ardently organises, underscoring its commitment to social responsibility. This initiative aims to assist parents and students in procuring essential school supplies.Shattaf highlighted the economic significance of the event, which will not only stimulate the retail sector but also fortify the market for stationery and school supplies. Moreover, he noted that the "Back to School Offers", comes as a part of the broader "Sharjah Summer Promotions", which has been attracting a rising number of visitors, leading to a noticeable uptick in shopping activity.For his part, Ibrahim Rashid Al Jarwan, Director of Economic Relations and Marketing at the SCCI, said: "This year, the 'Back to School Offers' showcases an unprecedented collaboration of shopping malls, libraries, and stores. It's our endeavour to offer parents and students unmatched opportunities to secure all school essentials at competitive prices. The fervent competition and eagerness of participants have further enriched the event with a plethora of promotional deals and captivating discounts.”In collaboration with Zawaya Walk Centre and Jarir Bookstore, the "Back to School Offers" stands as a highlight of the Sharjah Summer Promotions 2023. Year after year, the Chamber underscores its commitment by ensuring this event remains a top priority.

Tom Ford reopens at fashion avenue in the Dubai Mall

DUBAI: American luxury fashion house TOM FORD announces the reopening of their Dubai boutique in partnership with Chalhoub Group at Fashion Avenue in The Dubai Mall. Showcasing the complete world of TOM FORD, the 880 square meter regional flagship boutique, run as a franchise operation for Zegna Group’s TOM FORD fashion business, spans across three floors and offers the full range of products for both men and women, including ready-to-wear, leather goods, fragrances, beauty, eyewear, and underwear.Outfitted in the signature TOM FORD palette of greys and deep brown with chrome and glass accents, the distinctive boutique interior is modelled after the brand’s Madison Avenue flagship in New York City. The luxurious collections are presented in an environment that exudes the TOM FORD experience in stately clean lines with chrome and mirror finished interior complete with sleek display cabinets in refinedmaterials such as Cala Paonazzo marble and Macassar ebony. The discreetly partitioned walls create a sumptuous sense of privacy along with an atmosphere of exclusivity and refined comfort for its discerning clientele.To indulge in the epitome of luxury from the brand, the Dubai boutique offers the ultimate sartorial experience of TOM FORD’s made to measure garments. Through the made to measure service, clients can create a custom suit through a private one-on-one appointment. The master tailors at TOM FORD atelier devote weeks of craftsmanship to cutting, constructing and finishing each immaculately constructed and beautifully finished men’s suit using exquisite material from the world’s finest millsTOM FORD is located at Ground Floor, Fashion Avenue, The Dubai Mall, Financial Centre Road, Downtown Burj Khalifa, Dubai.

Honeywell research indicates AI will shape global retail over the next 12 months

Abu Dhabi: According to a new survey released today by Honeywell, nearly six in 10 retailers plan to adopt artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and computer vision (CV) technologies over the next year to enhance the shopping experience offered within stores and online. The research also indicates that retailers see this new technology as complementing and enhancing their workforce and not eliminating jobs.Honeywell’s AI in Retail survey involved some 1,000 retail directors across the Middle East, the United States, Europe and Africa in leadership roles – including IT, operations, and customer experience. Some of the key findings about the state of AI, ML and CV technologies today include:38% of those surveyed are using these technologies for select use cases or regions35% are using them on a larger scale24% are in a pilot phase or in discussionsOnly 3% said they were not using these technologies at allNearly half (48%) of respondents identified AI, ML and CV as the top technologies expected to have a significant impact on the retail industry over the next three to five years.“In the Middle East’s fast-developing retail environment, there is greater attention on the customer experience along with increased need to innovate in a hyper-competitive environment,” said Minda Xu, Vice President and General Manager for High Growth Regions, Safety and Productivity Solutions. “New technologies like AI, ML and CV have the potential to enable retailers to deliver personalized experiences, optimize operations, improve inventory management and prevent fraud – all of which enhance customer satisfaction and can lead to increased sales and profitability.”The Middle-East retail industry is forecast to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 4.0 percent from US$ 360.4 billion in 2020 to US$ 438.5 billion in 2025[1].AI to enhance customer experience, efficiencies and moreThe convenience of online purchasing with fast delivery and curated in-store shopping options have raised consumers' expectations. Surveyed retailers said they are highly motivated to implement new technologies that help them achieve their goals. The top three reasons leaders gave for deploying new technologies included:Improving customer experience (59%)Driving greater productivity (49%)Achieving cost efficiencies / return on investment (ROI) (44%)Survey respondents predict that AI, ML and CV will bring the greatest value to four key functions in retail: automating and supporting day-to-day tasks, such as picking and scheduling; supporting customer service, including live chat, for digital channels; creating targeted customer marketing campaigns and improving inventory management.AI to complement the future workforce, despite some barriers to adoptionStudy findings suggest that most retailers see AI, ML and CV primarily as tools to augment and maximize their workforce, rather than to replace employees. Only 7% of those surveyed said their primary purpose for these solutions would be to reduce human labor. The new technologies can enable better utilization of the workforce through predictive analytics, which can lead, in turn, to improved job satisfaction and more time to focus on higher-value tasks.Despite the large potential impact of the new technologies – AI, ML and CV – the survey data indicates three primary barriers to widespread adoption:Budget restrictions (39%)Difficulty in demonstrating business value (29%)Lack of internal expertise to maintain the technology (21%)“The importance of attracting and keeping customers and employees has never been greater,” said Xu. “As AI continues to evolve, expect an exciting future where innovative technologies unlock new levels of efficiency, engagement and satisfaction in retail.”

MBC Group join hands to promote local film industry

In the latest push to foster an organic movie industry in the kingdom, the Saudi Film Commission has partnered with the MBC Group to hone local talent and create new opportunities for them through grassroot initiatives.The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two entities will create training and employment opportunities for Saudi talent in TV shows and films that MBC will produce, while also facilitating their production shoots in the country.Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has been actively pushing the country’s film industry into the spotlight with the announcement of high-profile partnerships and funds to attract key international players.At the 2023 Cannes Film Festival in May, Saudi Arabia’s Cultural Development Fund announced two separate grants that would collectively spend $180 million in developing the local film industry, while also fostering an environment that appeals to cash-rich Hollywood production houses.Separately, the Saudi Film Commission launched Daw last year on the sidelines of the country’s the Red Sea International Film Festival, an initiative aimed at supporting local filmmakers and creating quality local productions. Daw also offers financial grants for Saudi-based production companies looking to produce short films or feature films in the kingdom. Aside from funding, Saudi Arabia also offers a tax rebate on film shoots, similar to the ones offered by Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which provides up to a 40% cash back incentive for productions that recruit crew and talent from the kingdom, while also promoting the cultural and geographical landscape of the country.In the recent past, movies such as Gerard Butler’s Kandahar, along with Cherry, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, have been shot in AlUla. NEOM has also proved itself popular with film units, with Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan shooting for him upcoming project Dunki at the destination, along with Rupert Wyatt who filmed Desert Warrior there with Anthony Mackie

Brand Dubai launches new #DubaiDestinations guide

DUBAI: Brand Dubai, the creative arm of the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO), has launched a new #DubaiDestinations guide that features a selection of the city's top child-friendly restaurants and cafes.Titled “Kid-Friendly Restaurants and Play Areas in Dubai”, the guide presents a handpicked list of eateries that offer scrumptious cuisine for all ages and dedicated play spaces for children.With Dubai seeing increasing demand for dining options that cater to the needs of families, the guide provides an exclusive selection of restaurants and cafes that combine delectable food with safe and fun-filled play areas. The restaurants listed in the guide are especially suitable for families with young children.The interactive guide is the third among a series of guides issued by Brand Dubai as part of the latest #DubaiDestinations campaign. The campaign aims to showcase the city's top-rated summer experiences and highlight unique attractions that make Dubai a one-of-a-kind summer destination.The new guide also features a second section listing some of Dubai’s best kids’ entertainment centres that offer dining options, further reflecting the campaign’s efforts to put the spotlight on holistic family experiences.Shaima Al Suwaidi, Director of Brand Dubai, said, "We are delighted to introduce the 'Kid-Friendly Restaurants and Play Areas in Dubai' guide as part of the #DubaiDestinations summer campaign. Consistent with Dubai's growing profile as the world’s best city to live, work and visit, the new guide presents an array of eateries that offer exquisite culinary experiences for all ages, coupled with exciting play areas for children. As part of the campaign's commitment to highlight Dubai’s family-friendly attractions, the guide also provides a select list of children’s entertainment centres with food outlets. One of the key objectives of the #DubaiDestinations campaign is to showcase Dubai’s diverse facets as a summer destination, and the new guide is part of our efforts to raise the profile of places that provide enjoyable experiences for the family.”The latest #DubaiDestinations summer campaign highlights the attractions and experiences that make the emirate a top pick among global destinations this season. The collaborative campaign, implemented by Brand Dubai weaves together compelling content from diverse stakeholders and creatives, to tell the story of Dubai’s emergence as one of the world’s best summer destinations.Running until August 2023, the campaign encourages residents and visitors to discover Dubai’s diverse leisure, dining, adventure and family-friendly activities in the summer months.The #DubaiDestinations campaign is being rolled out over digital, broadcast, print and outdoor media to ensure it reaches large sections of local and international audiences. Brand Dubai is implementing the campaign in cooperation with various stakeholders and the creative media community.

Almosafer partners with MoEngage for personalized engagement

KSA: Saudi Arabia’s leading travel company Almosafer (part of Seera Group), has partnered with MoEngage, a marketing automation and customer engagement platform, to drive meaningful engagement with its travellers using an insights-led strategy.Founded in 2012, Almosafer’s consumer travel platform offers travelers seamless experiences for domestic and international travel bookings through its omnichannel offerings. Currently catering to KSA and other GCC audiences, the brand will leverage MoEngage’s platform to create personalized messaging, ensuring continuous customer engagement at the right place and time.“We understand the importance of trust when it comes to booking travel services. Our customers can rely on us to deliver on our promises, ensuring they receive the services they booked with confidence and peace of mind. Additionally, we also realize the research that goes behind booking a service, and we intend to provide assistance there as well with the help of MoEngage”, said Pallav Singhvi, VP Consumer Travel - Almosafer.Apart from meaningful customer engagement, Almosafer will leverage MoEngage’s capabilities, such as advanced segmentation, automation, and personalization capabilities. This will enable the brand to craft highly relevant and impactful campaigns whilst delivering the right messages to the right customers, maximizing the effectiveness of engagement efforts.Almosafer joins the growing list of 1200+ global companies across 35 countries, such as Azadea Group, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Landmark Group, Apparel Group, Airtel, Ola, Oyo, and Mashreq, that trust MoEngage to deliver a consistent experience across multiple devices and touchpoints.“We are excited to join hands with a leading brand that focuses on engagement across the customer journey lifecycle. Establishing a sound customer customer engagement strategy can lead to a long-term relationship and MoEngage will be more than happy to assist Almosafer in doing so”, said Sweta Duseja, Director of Customer Success, META - MoEngage.

The Dreamwork selected for the book adaptation market at Venice Film Festival

Dubai:  Dubai-based publisher, The Dreamwork Collective, has been selected to take part in the 8th edition of the Book Adaptation Rights Market, to be staged next month as part of the 80th Venice International Film Festival. One of just 34 international publishing houses and literary agencies chosen for the exclusive invitation-only event, The Dreamwork Collective will have the opportunity to represent the UAE and present its entire catalogue of books for adaptation to the film industry.Convening in the Hotel Excelsior on Lido di Venezia, the Book Adaptation Rights Market is part of the Venice Production Bridge, which stages a range of unique initiatives to advance the development and production of film. The Market provides publishers with a dedicated platform to conduct one-on-one meetings with the producers registered to the Venice International Film Festival, to discuss the adaptation of novels, dramas, children’s literature, short stories, comics, graphic novels, essays, and biographies.As an independent publisher with a focus on authors in the Middle East and North Africa regions, The Dreamwork Collective has established a reputation for championing voices often neglected by the mainstream. The invitation to the Venice Book Adaptation Rights Market is a first among publishers across the region and recognizes the diverse voices and powerful stories backed by the all-female team.CEO and Founder of The Dreamwork Collective, Kira Jean, said, “We are honoured to be among the select few publishers to receive Gold Accreditation and to present our titles for adaption to the film industry. It is a huge step towards introducing the powerful stories we publish in the Emirates to the screen, and we are thrilled to represent the region’s best writing talent as we meet renowned filmmakers and producers at this year’s Venice International Film Festival.”The annual Book Adaptation Rights Market places a spotlight on a different literary genre each year and the 2023 edition will be dedicated to publications for children and young adults. Among the titles to be presented by The Dreamwork Collective is The Secret Life of Dubai’s Street Cats, by Bashayer Arif. A touching and triumphant story for cat lovers of all ages, the book has sold over 90,000 copies worldwide. Also featuring in the publisher’s children’s literature catalogue is Just Jessica, by author and Paralympian Jessica Smith, who draws on her own life experiences to tell the story of a schoolgirl who is slightly different from her friends.Renowned among publishers worldwide as one of the top three annual gatherings in the field, the Venice Book Adaptation Rights Market has provided a platform for the sale of numerous adaptations to both cinema and television in its previous seven editions. The Dreamwork Collective will be among 12 publishers and literary agencies participating in the event for the first time this year.

Perfios Unveils New Brand Identity, Targets global expansion in the US, MENA

In a strategic move reflecting its evolution into a multi-product, multi-domain global player, Perfios, India's largest B2B SaaS TechFin company, has unveiled its new brand identity. The revamp comes as the company celebrates its 15 years of growth and innovation in the financial technology sector. The decision to embark on this transformative brand journey is fuelled by the company's ambitious global expansion plans in the US, Middle East, Southeast Asia, and African markets. With frugality and efficiency being at the center of its business, Perfios has displayed strong financial standing with consistent year-on-year growth of 100% in the last five years. Notably, the company is targeting the achievement of $100 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) by the end of this financial year. The company also seeks to double the contribution of its international business within the next 12 months.  “We are excited to introduce our new brand reinvigoration to help our clients 'Lead and Leap.' We recommit to being responsible creators and technologists who boldly pioneer and shape category-transforming tech products. In line with our commitment to lead with brilliance, we are now solving the entire end-to-end customer journey for all financial institutions” said Sabyasachi Goswami, CEO of Perfios. On the personal mission statement for Perfios, Sabyasachi adds “We are committed to work with banks and financial institutions to help them in their digital transformation journey thereby powering financial inclusion and access to financial services to billions across the globe.”Underpinned by the new positioning “Lead/Leap,” the new logo design conveys Perfios’ transition into a global tech platform, now catering to end-to-end customer lifecycle including onboarding, decisioning and underwriting for all financial institutions, and taking a leap with new futuristic tech bets. The logo's flame arrow embodies the company's commitment to progress, innovation, and focused energy, igniting clients' aspirations, as well as their mission to power financial inclusion to billions across the world through their clients. The renewed identity reflects Perfios' dedication to institution building and its unwavering focus on spreading expertise, knowledge, and impact. Catering to 1000+ banks and financial institutions, including 100+ clients globally Perfios is constantly innovating and investing in new-age technologies to enhance customer experience and solve complexities. Its Intelligent Document Processing platform is being continuously improved with newer ML models for supporting a wide range of financial documents and detecting frauds. As a B2B SaaS company serving the BFSI sector, Perfios’ advanced decisioning solutions enable real-time decisions for both small and large financial transactions. The company's focus on powering financial institutions to build strong portfolios with low NPAs, and thereby contributing to a healthy economy, remains a cornerstone of its mission.

Lapita, Dubai Park and Resorts announces the appointment of its new Director

Lapita, Dubai Parks™ and Resorts, the UAE’s first and only Polynesian resort, is pleased to announce the appointment of Ravneet Arora as its new Director of Sales and Marketing. In her capacity, Arora will play a pivotal role in driving the hotel and destination’s commercial success to a new benchmark.With an extensive background in the hospitality industry spanning over 12 years, Arora's appointment follows her tenure as multi-property Director of Sales and Marketing for a collection of four Marriott hotels – Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Creek; Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai, Element by Westin Al Jaddaf and Courtyard by Marriott, Culture Village – where she spearheaded the sales and marketing efforts for all the hotels. In her new role, Arora will oversee the development and implementation of innovative sales and marketing strategies aimed at expanding Lapita's market share, driving revenue growth and enhancing the guest experience.Faiek El Saadani, General Manager of Lapita, Dubai Parks™ and Resorts, said: ”We are delighted to welcome Ravneet Arora to Lapita, Dubai Parks™ and Resorts. With her extensive background in luxury hospitality, Ravneet will be a strong addition to the team overseeing our business expansion initiatives and leading innovative campaigns that will drive sustainable growth for our hotel.”Commenting on her appointment, Ravneet Arora, Director of Sales and Marketing of Lapita, Dubai Parks™ and Resorts, said: “It is an honour to join the team at Lapita, Dubai Parks™ and Resorts, a property that is renowned for its unique blend of luxury and Polynesian culture. I am excited to work with the team to continue enhancing Lapita’s brand presence and exceeding our commercial goals.”Having joined Marriott International in 2007, Arora rapidly advanced within Sales and Marketing, attaining her first Director of Sales role at the JW Marriott Juhu Mumbai, followed by the position of Director of Sales and Marketing once again at the luxury five-star Ritz Carlton Jakarta, Mega Kuningan, in 2015. There, she managed a team of 30 and played a pivotal role in fostering corporate partnerships and expanding key source markets. Relocating to the UAE in early 2017, Arora took on the role of Director of Sales and Marketing at Ghaya Grand, achieving an increase in apartment occupancy and successfully acquiring significant corporate contracts.

BingX announces strategic investment in AI and Web3 startup Moonbox

BingX, a leading global cryptocurrency exchange, is proud to announce a significant stride in its commitment to fostering innovation within the blockchain and Web3 ecosystem. Through its investment arm, Bing Ventures, BingX has strategically invested in Moonbox, a pioneering AI and Web3 startup.Moonbox has a unique approach to reshaping the digital landscape. Licensed to use the intellectual property of most popular classic films of Stephen Chow, Moonbox is set to launch a series of generative AI-powered NFTs and applications inspired by the art and film by the end of 2023. It believes, with the addition of an AI interaction layer, NFTs will be more engaging, entertaining, and satisfying for users, which will ultimately lead to NFTs being used in more types of content creation such as films and short videos. With a plan to launch its AI-powered interaction platform, Moonbox aspires to become one of the world's premier companies to develop immersive experiences for individuals. This investment will further accelerate Moonbox's product growth and advance its core technology, which leverages cutting-edge generative AI to fuel applications for the evolving Web3 and NFT ecosystem.Founded in 2021, Bing Ventures stands as a beacon of innovation in the venture capital landscape. Focusing on supporting early-stage startups and entrepreneurs of Web3 and blockchain advancements, Bing Ventures boasts a team of industry veterans and experts with extensive experience in investing, incubating, developing, and promoting projects. With a research-driven, sector-agnostic value investing approach, Bing Ventures has built an impressive portfolio spanning DeFi, NFTs, GameFi, DAOs, infrastructure, and more."Moonbox's fusion of AI and Web3 showcases a visionary convergence that leads us toward a future of limitless possibilities. As Bing Ventures aligns with this innovative force, we are excited to champion Moonbox's journey, a journey that will undoubtedly catalyze the evolution of technology and its impact on society," remarked Elvisco Carrington, PR and Communications Director of BingX.BingX's strategic investment in Moonbox signifies a strategic alignment between Bing Ventures and BingX, underlining their shared dedication to advancing the capabilities of the Web3 ecosystem. This investment showcases BingX's proactive approach to identifying and supporting promising projects that have the potential to shape the future of technology. It also marks a significant step forward in the realm of blockchain innovations and underscores BingX's commitment to driving the next wave of technological advancements.

Dubai International Chamber arranges 172 B2B meetings with Chinese MNCs

Dubai: Dubai International Chamber, one of the three chambers operating under the umbrella of Dubai Chambers, has successfully hosted a B2B matchmaking event during the Wuxi – Dubai Economic & Trade Exchange Conference to explore business and investment opportunities between Dubai and Wuxi City.Organised in partnership with the Wuxi Municipal Government and Wuxi National High-Tech Industrial Development Zone, the event welcomed a high-level government delegation led by Mr. Du Xiaogang, Secretary of Wuxi Municipal Committee of the Communist Party, to Dubai with the goal of strengthening economic cooperation between the emirate and Wuxi City, which is located in East China’s southern Jiangsu Province.A total of 13 Chinese multinational companies specialising in areas including advanced technology, biomedical and healthcare equipment, the Internet of Things (IoT), Information and Communications Technology, microelectronics, and renewable energy took part in 172 B2B meetings with 38 local companies during the event, which were facilitated by Dubai International Chamber to highlight the emirate’s attractive business environment and support the expansion of Dubai-based companies into the Chinese market.Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President and CEO of Dubai Chambers, commented: “China has consistently ranked as the UAE’s biggest trading partner, and we are keen to expand these deeply rooted trade and investment ties further in the country’s eastern region. With its comprehensive logistics infrastructure and strategic location along the New Silk Road, Dubai serves as a convenient gateway to the MENA markets, enabling leading Chinese companies to seize opportunities and thrive in a rapidly evolving global landscape. The dedicated teams at our international representative offices in Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong will continue to work to attract many more innovative Chinese companies to Dubai, including those in Wuxi.”

ZEE5 Global marks 5 years of partnership with LuLu Group in the Middle East

Global:  ZEE5 Global, the world's largest streaming platform for South Asian content, recently completed 5 years of their partnership with LuLu Hypermarket, the most admired retail chain in the region to bring entertainment into the shopping experience. To mark the occasion, the platform arranged for a fan meet and greet with Aditi Rao Hydari, who played Anarkali in the blockbuster web series, Taj: Divided by Blood, as part of LuLu’s annual 'Celebrations of India' campaign. The brand also revealed its participation in Lulu’s new brand loyalty program and announced special offers for customers on the occasion.ZEE5 Global's latest collaboration with LuLu Hypermarket not only goes in new markets like Qatar but also takes it to the next level with ZEE5’s participation in Lulu’s loyalty program “Happiness”. As part of the program, shoppers at LuLu Hypermarkets across UAE and Qatar will get a free one-month subscription and exclusive offers on yearly subscriptions for every purchase. Further, Loyalty members across GCC will get special discounts on ZEE5 Global 4K monthly and annual packs.Aditi Rao Hydari's association with the platform at an exclusive meet and greet in the Middle East added an extra layer of excitement for shoppers, allowing fans to personally interact and engage with their star. This follows her outstanding performance as Anarkali in the blockbuster ZEE5 Original period drama "Taj: Divided By Blood."Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Global said, “We are thrilled to complete 5 years of our very special partnership with LuLu to delight consumers by adding entertainment into the shopping experience. The Middle East is one of our highest priority markets and one where we have shot to leadership as a South Asian OTT platform. We look forward to continuing to bring our audiences unforgettable experiences with their favourite stars and the best of Bollywood blockbusters and South Asian stories.”Aditi Rao Hydari said, “It’s been such a wonderful experience connecting and interacting with my fans in Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai! The global response to my show Taj: Divided by Blood has left me completely overwhelmed and I would like to thank ZEE5 Global for making this happen. My heartfelt congratulations to ZEE5 Global and LuLu for their remarkable 5-year partnership and for this wonderful event!”

FNP (Ferns N Petals): Blossoming in the Middle Eastern soil

Ferns N Petals, an Indian specialty retail brand which launched in the UAE in 2015, has come a long way since then. Currently, the brand is the largest online gifting company in the UAE both in terms of the width and depth of the options that it offers to its customers, along with the customers it has serviced so far. In an exclusive interview with Abha Garyali Peer, Vijay Ghadge, Business Head, dwells at length on the main factors that have led to the brand’s success in the Middle East and the reasons that people prefer it over many local players. Excerpts:Ferns N Petals (FNP) has established itself as a prominent player in the gifting and specialty retail sector in India. What was the rationale behind the expansion to the Middle East region?In the UAE we saw an opportunity with respect to per capita spend on gifting in general and flowers in particular. In addition, the country has such a huge immigrant population. We also found it comparatively easier to find relevant talent in the UAE.Since our launch in 2015, we have expanded our product range as well as our customer base. We currently are the largest online gifting company in the UAE both in terms of the width and depth of the options that we offer as well as customers was launched in 2015 and currently has both online and offline dominance in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. What has been the secret for success?There are many reasons why we have been so successful here. The premium quality of our products and the sheer variety that we offer is one of the main factors. Providing over 1,500 unique and high-quality products, and spanning diverse categories such as birthdays, anniversaries and annual celebrations, along with fresh plants, personalised gifts and bespoke combination gift sets, along with other countless options that we offer for every occasion. Our leadership team is also exceptionally strong, and they have prioritised offering exceptional customer service, forging strong local partnerships with other regional businesses, and implementing efficient procurement strategies.By curating innovative and adaptable advertising strategies, and maintaining a strong online presence, our marketing continues to be extremely effective. By being reliable and offering exceptional services and local expertise, our reputation remains glowing and positive, and many customers come to us through word-of-mouth recommendations.In addition, we are thrilled to be one of the first gifting specialists in the UAE to offer instant deliveries of flowers, chocolates, cakes, gifts and more across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in less than 60 minutes. This gives us a significant competitive advantage over other similar gifting businesses. Localising our platforms and services for the Middle Eastern market has also been key to our success. We have customised our online platforms, website, and mobile app to cater to the preferences and needs of customers in the Middle East, including offering bespoke language, currency, and payment options. We also maintain high levels of cultural sensitivity, and all of this serves to enhance the overall user experience. E-retailing has advanced at a breakneck speed. Please share your views and what the future has in store? Thanks to the world’s ever-evolving technological innovations and the widespread adoption of digital platforms, e-retailing continues to boom. The pandemic encouraged this shift towards a new and digitally-driven way of shopping, and data platform Euromonitor reports that e-commerce sales in the UAE grew from $2.6bn in 2019 to $4.8bn in 2021.MENA is the world leader in the Q-commerce market, and I think this will continue to be a top trend. Today’s customers want instant gratification, innovative delivery options as well as personalised and customised items. This is exactly what we offer at FNP.Mobile commerce, omni-channel integration, and data security and privacy for our customers will remain some of our top priorities over the next few years. Cross-border e-retailing is another important trend for us, as this will allow our customers to gift and deliver items to their families and loved ones overseas. <img src='\89c47587fe63b2d67afbe0f89cb5094d.png' class='content_image'>What do you offer to the Middle East consumers? What is in the bouquet of Providing over 1,500 unique and quality products, and spanning diverse categories such as birthdays, anniversaries and annual celebrations, along with fresh plants, personalised gifts and bespoke combination gift sets, we offer countless options for every occasion. With our new Q-commerce service, customers can feel safe and secure knowing that they can have the perfect gift delivered to their door, or the door of their recipient, in 60 minutes or less.  By offering quick delivery, quality products that consistently exceed expectations and excellent customer communication services, we continue to successfully maintain the trust of our audience, stand out from the competition and grow our customer base. What can you say about the average transaction value, growth and notable trends during special occasions like Mother’s day, Women’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc.? These occasions are peak seasons for us, and we always experience significant growth around Valentines, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other annual celebrations. Our revenue during these periods continues to rise with each passing year. We maximise these opportunities by offering specific customised catalogues for each event, including cakes, flowers and gifts and accessories that have been specifically curated for Christmas, Ramadan and other occasions. Many of these items can also be personalised with names or initials. This ensures that customers are always able to find perfect gifts for loved ones and that we always stock exactly what they are looking for. We are proud to offer the most special and unique gifting options in the region. In India, FNP is famous for its timely delivery, and delicious chocolates besides fresh flowers. Is it the same with Please detail your gourmet product range. Yes, we are thrilled to be one of the first gifting specialists in the UAE to offer instant deliveries of flowers, chocolate, cakes, gifts and more across the UAE in less than 60 minutes. This gives us a significant competitive advantage over other similar gifting businesses. Gourmet chocolates are another expanding area for us in the UAE. Market research showed us that UAE customers desired a greater choice of personalised and high-quality chocolate flavours, including more sugar-free options. Therefore, we decided to expand our portfolio into the gourmet food sector, to launch our first ever range of bespoke Belgian chocolates. Launched in June 2023, our new ‘Finest Belgian Chocolate’ collection spans an array of sumptuous milk, dark, ivory, truffle and sugar-free chocolates. Enhanced with sumptuous fillings and flavours, including coffee, salted caramel, Nutella hazelnut, pistachio, lotus and many more incredible options; the indulgent range makes the perfect gift for family, friends and loved ones. Our previous UAE chocolate ranges were all provided in partnership with local chocolatiers, but the new ‘Finest Belgian Chocolate’ collection is our first chocolate range to be made in house at FNP’s headquarters in Dubai. Our fresh flowers are also proving particularly popular. In fact, an incredible 50 percent of our total sales in the UAE derive from roses, lilies and hyacinths, and our homemade cakes, fresh plants and personalised accessories are also highly sought after.<img src='\4c94fa0df077c38c000e094d29109c09.png' class='content_image'>What can you say about personalisation and customisation in as the discerning audience wants everything to be personalised? Personalisation and customisation are crucial aspects of modern e-retailing, especially in a market like the UAE where discerning customers value unique and tailored experiences. As a successful gifting and specialty retail brand, we have priortised creating a robust personalisation and customisation strategy for our business.We offer customers the chance to design their own gifts or bundles, and customised gifts with names, messages or particular flavours. From a marketing perspective, we create personalised product recommendations, emails and social media campaigns. We always ensure that our website experience is user-centric and we dedicate great time to collecting customer feedback and taking it all on board. As mentioned above, we also offer occasion-specific customisation, such as birthdays, Valentine’s Day or Ramadan messages. What campaigns and marketing strategies have you incorporated for the brand’s success in the UAE markets?We have made sure that our marketing is localised to meet the needs and wants of the local market. We remain very active on social media, and we maintain high levels of engagement with our audience. Influencer partnerships, e-mail marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, remarketing campaigns, collaborations, offline events and out-of-home advertising have all proved very effective for us. Our seasonal- and occasion-based campaigns have been successful at driving sales and attracting the attention of our audience. We create special offers for popular occasions in the UAE, including Eid, National Day, Valentine's Day, Ramadan and more.What are your views on “Indian brands in Middle Eastern soil”? Did the brand face any hurdles initially? How did you overcome it?Launching in the UAE was very different to launching in India, and we had a lot of things to think about. We had to consider the UAE’s cultural customs, its regulatory and legal frameworks and the language and communication techniques that resonated with the UAE’s audience. We also had new competition here and we had to build trust with our customers from the ground up.To overcome these challenges we invested in market research, localisation, forging partnerships and alliances and building strong relationships with our audience and partners.To maintain our position as gifting experts, we prioritised educating our customers about our brand, products, and value proposition through targeted marketing efforts. By remaining flexible and agile, and offering consistently high-quality products and exceptional service, we have successfully gained the trust and love of the UAE’s residents. By adapting our business model to the needs of the UAE and maintaining a strong digital presence, we continue to grow and thrive.Perfecting our logistics and supply chain was also essential. Distribution can often be a hurdle, especially in a region like the UAE that has diverse geography and infrastructure. By implementing efficient and reliable logistics and strong supply chain management, we successfully overcame our distribution challenges.We recognise that establishing a brand in a new market takes time and that it requires long-term commitment. Therefore, we are always thinking of new ways to entice and please our customers and improve our services.Did the pandemic 2020 dampen your spirit? How has the sales picked up post Covid in the UAE?The pandemic prompted us to think creatively and diversify our product range. To overcome social distancing, we offered contactless delivery and implemented strict safety measures. Digital marketing and customer support and communication were also crucial during this period.  We continue to offer strong online operations and competitive prices, and we always ensure that our supply chain operates seamlessly. I am pleased to say that we have recovered admirably since the pandemic. During 2022, we experienced double digit growth in the UAE.

Mohamed Bareche joins Horizon FCB Dubai as Executive Creative Director

Dubai: Horizon FCB Dubai, one of the most popular agencies in MENA, has appointed Mohamed Bareche as its new Executive Creative Director. Mohamed Bareche has had a great professional journey, developing campaigns for brands such as Pizza Hut, KitKat, Standard Chartered and Louvre Abu Dhabi. He has been recognized at the Cannes Lions Festival, Clio awards, LIA, NY Festival, One Show, MENA Effie and Dubai Lynx, among other prestigious platforms, for his unique and creative ad campaigns. Mohamed's advertising journey began in 2002 as an assistant art director in Paris. Subsequently, he advanced to senior creative roles within multinational agencies, propelled by his exceptional creativity and innovative prowess.Moreover, Mohamed has also worked as an advertising instructor at respected institutions like the Paris University, ICN Business School, and Artline Institute.Reham Mufleh, Managing Director, Horizon FCB Dubai, said: "Mohamed's addition to our team symbolises a new chapter of creativity and innovation at Horizon FCB. His vast experience and proven track record of excellence align seamlessly with our agency's ethos. We’ll continue unleashing creativity fueled by diversity, data and technology… eagerly anticipating a game-change in partnership with Mohamed.”Mohamed said: “Joining Horizon FCB Dubai is both an honour and a thrilling challenge. They already paved the way and built a strong reputation by winning in every major festival globally, not mentioning notable pitch wins, which resonates with my own drive for excellence. They placed the bar really high and that makes me really excited to integrate in this ambitious team and continue the tradition of crafting campaigns that leave an indelible mark on the industry.”

KIB sheds light on the dangers of investing in virtual assets

Kuwait: Kuwait International Bank (KIB) remains committed to its social responsibility and awareness efforts through its support of the ‘Let’s Be Aware’ (Diraya) campaign, launched by the Central Bank of Kuwait in cooperation with the Kuwait Banking Association. As part of this commitment, KIB has been shedding light on the dangers of trading and investing in virtual assets or cryptocurrencies on its various electronic and social media platforms. The Bank has also been sharing information about the negative impact of virtual investments on investors' and traders’ assets and funds.Commenting on this issue, General Manager of KIB’s Investment Department Jamal Al-Barrak said: “We are witnessing major and rapid changes in the digital world. Innovative means of investment, such as virtual assets and cryptocurrencies, are emerging. While these new opportunities hold the potential for significant gains, KIB is aware of their various risks and negative impacts that investors and traders should also acknowledge. As a financial institution that adheres to regulations and statutes, KIB stresses the urgency of avoiding the use of or trade in digital currencies or digital assets, as they have no legal status and are not linked to any official issuing body.”Al-Barrak then moved on to discuss the dangers of investing in encrypted virtual assets. He pointed out that citizens may be attracted to these investments because of their high returns and the desire to achieve quick profit. However, the reality is, he stated, that investing in virtual assets carries high risks, most notably the loss of the fully invested funds in a mere second, given that the prices of these assets are always driven by speculations that expose their value to sudden and unexpected sharp drops. Al-Barrak added: “Dealers and traders of digital assets should be aware that if things go wrong, they will not have any protection like when investing in a product subject to national banking regulations.”Moreover, Al-Barrak addressed the electronic risks that threaten the assets of investors in virtual currencies. He said that digital trading and storage platforms could become exposed to piracy, cyberattacks, or electronic breaches. He explained that thousands of people trade on these platforms using cryptocurrencies, noting that each platform controls the prices and the form of transactions. Thus, if any of these platforms were electronically hacked and went out of service, the value of its currency will decrease within moments, and the entire trading movement will fluctuate, he said.Highlighting the importance of KIB customers paying attention to the dangers of misleading advertisements, Al-Barrak said that social media platforms have become a breeding ground for inaccurate information and false promises. He called on all customers to practice extreme caution upon coming across advertisements for virtual assets that seem incredibly convincing. He said: “Most of the time, the identity of the issuers and marketers of these virtual currencies is unknown, or they hail from unknown or illegal entities. Therefore, virtual traders can use fake names or advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to persuade investors with promises of quick and guaranteed returns.”Concluding his remarks, Al-Barrak noted the importance of extensive investigation and research, and adequate study of any investment field to cover all its particulars. This would ensure that the investor achieves positive results and maintains their capital. On the other hand, he stressed the need for joint action between banking institutions to raise investors' and citizens' awareness of the risks surrounding investing in virtual assets and cryptocurrencies in order to protect the national financial system.

Palm Hills Developments sponsors Nouran Gohar

Cairo: As part of its strategy to acquire young, promising talents in various individual and team sports, giving them the opportunity to hone their skills and work on technical development, Palm Hills Sports Club has signed a sponsorship contract with Nouran Gohar, the world squash champion, in which she will be representing the club in both local and international tournaments.Through the agreement, the club will provide the champion with a structured and tailored approach to training, in addition to the necessary support to enhance her performance in major tournaments, continue her quest for reaping continental and international championships, and maintain her global ranking in the women's world squash arena.“ Palm Hills Developments pays great attention to sports investment by establishing sports clubs that include world-class facilities and courts that are designed and implemented according to international standards. In addition to providing the club members with various sports and social services, which contributes to discovering new talents, developing their level to become world champions, and transferring their experiences to young athletes, which is reflected in the development of Egyptian sports. Said Mr. Tarek Tantawy, Co- CEO and Managing Director of Palm Hills Developments."We’ve launched a new sports investment strategy aimed at enhancing our role in providing sports and social services to our club members, while also effectively contributing to the development of Egyptian sports. We commenced the strategy by rebranding the club as "Palm Hills Sports Club," with the aim of reflecting our goal of fostering young talents across various sports," said Mr. Tarik Atia, CEO of Palm Sports.He added, "With the addition of world champion Nouran Gohar to Palm Hills Sports Club, we continue to implement our strategy with the aim of supporting the young athlete in pursuing her journey to reaping championships and awards, while also sharing her sports expertise with rising youth talents, with the intention of motivating them to enhance their physical and technical competencies, which consequently contributes to the development of Egyptian sports.""I'm beyond thrilled to join Palm Hills Sports Club, which is renowned for its elite facilities and courts and is regarded as one of Egypt's finest sports clubs, offering the kind of resources every champion pursuits in order to enhance their technical and physical performances overall, and eventually maintain their position at the forefront of global rankings, which is in line with my goals and ambitions to achieve more championships and share my expertise with the young talents, " said the world squash champion, Nouran Gohar."I’m also proud and honored by the confidence shown by Palm Hills Developments in sponsoring my upcoming squash tournaments, especially that Palm Hills Development is one of the prominent economic entities, which motivates me to invest my utmost efforts in obtaining championships."The addition of Nouran Gohar's to Palm Hills Sports Club is a continuation of the club's role in supporting squash, not only through the establishment of world-class courts at the club's headquarters in 6th of October, but also through hosting and sponsoring major youth tournaments conducted under the supervision of world-class coaches with the participation of athletes from various countries. The aim is to elevate the performances of Egyptian players and expose them to diverse training systems to develop their competencies and skills.The transfer of Nouran Gohar represents another milestone in Palm Hills Sports Club’s strategy of recruiting world-class champions. Gohar's journey is marked by numerous achievements, records, and titles in the game of squash. Most notably, she holds an unchanged Women’s World Ranking with a total of 19,045 points, significantly ahead of her closest competitors.She has secured multiple championships, including the recent "Greatest Eight" title, and has won five World Team Championships with the national team. Furthermore, she is the first Egyptian Female to win the Hong Kong International Squash Open championship and is the first Egyptian to win the U.S. Open Squash Championship three times. In addition to these accomplishments, Nouran Gohar was previously selected as one of Forbes Middle East's "30 Promising Arab Personalities."      Established in 2006 on a 20-acre area, Palm Hills Sports Club in 6th of October City is among the largest and oldest sports clubs in western Cairo. The sports club features a multitude of courts and sports facilities designed and executed to meet international standards. These facilities enable the practice of 10 different sports, prominently including football fields, 8 tennis courts, and 4 squash courts.Additionally, Palm Hills Sports Club boasts a number of swimming pools; a gym with state-of-the-art equipment; and social amenities tailored for families and seniors, allowing them to relish their time within the premises, in a way that promotes family quality time. Moreover, the club arranges training programs for young individuals aimed at discovering and nurturing their talents.Palm Hills Sports Club is one of Palm Hills Development sports clubs, aimed at fulfilling the company’s commitment to expanding its sports investments to provide comprehensive services for its members. This comes in line with the state’s efforts to discover talents across various sports and equip them with the necessary resources to develop their technical, physical, and behavioral competencies with the goal of attaining continental and international championships.

Empowering young Emirati entrepreneurs at SRTIP SoiLAB Bootcamp

The Pearl Initiative, a non-profit organisation promoting corporate governance and entrepreneurship across the Gulf region, recently collaborated with the Sharjah Research, Technology, and Innovation Park (SRTIP) to host an engaging session titled 'Pitching Your Startup'. The session aimed to equip the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators with the necessary tools and knowledge to make their startups more attractive to potential investors.The session took place at SRTIP SoiLAB Startup Bootcamp and attracted a diverse group of aspiring entrepreneurs eager to refine their pitching techniques. It aimed to empower young Emirati entrepreneurs with essential skills and confidence to pitch their startup ideas to potential investors and stakeholders effectively. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, nearly three-quarters of individuals in the Middle East and North Africa region view entrepreneurship as a favorable career option, with approximately 38% of the adult population expressing a desire to initiate a business. According to the Digital Digest Report, last year, the region’s startups secured $247 million through 46 deals, which represents a 20% month-on-month increase and a 474% year-on-year growth.SRTIP CEO Hussein Al Mahmoudi said, "The Startup Boot Camp is an integral part of SRTIP's mission to provide the perfect launch pad for the region's aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs. This is an amazing opportunity for participants to gain access to our world-class facilities and tap into our ecosystem designed to help them succeed."During the session, participants learned how to master the elevator pitch, creating a lasting impression on potential investors in the competitive startup ecosystem. They also gained valuable insights into structuring an engaging pitch deck and using the art of storytelling to showcase the critical elements of the business plan. Aspiring entrepreneurs expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to learn from industry experts and gain valuable insights to elevate their entrepreneurial journey.Mohamed Al Moosa, Programme Manager of the Governance in Tech programme at the Pearl Initiative, said: "Through this session, we aimed to empower aspiring entrepreneurs with the essential skills and knowledge, to craft compelling pitches that captivate potential investors. By immersing themselves in best practices and understanding effective positioning, these young innovators are now equipped with the confidence to shine brightly in the competitive world of startups, showcasing not just brilliant ideas but also a foundation built on transparency, accountability, and responsible decision-making."The Pearl Initiative partners with public and private sector organisations to nurture entrepreneurship throughout the Gulf region. With a central emphasis on advancing corporate governance and ethical business behaviours, the Pearl Initiative plays a crucial role in unleashing the potential of the business environment in the region. Through its various programmes, workshops, and collaborative activities, the Pearl Initiative provides aspiring entrepreneurs with the necessary support and guidance to thrive in the competitive startup ecosystem. By instilling a culture of accountability, transparency, and ethical conduct, it empowers startups to navigate challenges with resilience and innovation. With a vast network of industry leaders, policymakers, and academics, the Pearl Initiative continues to drive positive change, catalysing the growth of entrepreneurship and startups and contributing to the region's sustainable economic development.

Satellogic and Quant Data & Analytics announce 3-year agreement

Satellogic Inc, a leader in sub-meter resolution Earth Observation data (“EO”) collection, announced today that it has signed an agreement with Quant Data & Analytics (“Quant”), a leading Saudi provider of Data & AI Products and Enterprise Solutions focused on the real estate and retail sectors. This strategic agreement leverages Satellogic’s high-resolution satellite imagery to serve and evolve the ever-expanding property tech landscape across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region.Quant's collaboration with Satellogic will lead to the development of derivative products, transforming and broadening the adoption of data science, AI, and SaaS products for real estate and retail. Satellogic's flexible and scalable business model will support Quant’s Suhail platform, an interactive real estate tool for agencies, developers, and clients. The agreement will empower the Saudi Arabian and Gulf region’s real estate and retail sector by delivering AI solutions and unparalleled insights, accuracy, and efficiency for driving growth and enhancing decision-making processes.Ahmed Bukhamseen, CEO of Quant Data & Analytics, stated, "Our collaboration with Satellogic marks a momentous advancement in data analytics for our region. The integration of high-resolution satellite imagery with our AI and geospatial technologies elevates our interactive real estate platform, Suhail, and Location Intelligence tool powered by Fruits360 to unprecedented levels. This strategy resonates with our vision of a data-driven global economy and fulfills our goal to spread, implement, and automate data-led solutions."Caitlin Kontgis, Satellogic’s Senior Vice President of Commercial and Growth, added, "Quant is redefining the future of real estate and retail, creating opportunities for evolving processes such as property valuations and insurance underwriting. They needed an Earth Observation data provider capable of delivering high capacity, high resolution, and frequent revisits at an attainable price. This relationship illustrates the potential of Satellogic's Earth Observation business model."This collaboration is timely, coinciding with increased Saudi government investment in infrastructure to stimulate tourism, residential, and commercial real estate developments. Leveraging Satellogic’s high-resolution EO satellite constellation, the agreement will enable monitoring of rapid urban development and compliance with environmental and zoning regulations, enhancing competitiveness in the high growth market.By harnessing the power of satellite imagery, Quant is laying the foundation for a futuristic approach to data-led development, monitoring, and decision-making. This collaboration promises to be a game-changer in utilizing big data to make transformative impacts on real estate, retail and beyond.

Rabah Assaf joins Nabd as Business Development Director

Rabah Assaf has joined Nabd, a Personalized Arabic News Aggregator, as Saudi Business Development Director.  Nabd enables Arab users across the globe to stay up-to-date with their favorite topics on the go. Presently, Nabd reaches over 20 million users, generating over 1.6 billion page views every quarter, making it the biggest Arabic app globally. Rabah Assaf has over 18 years of experience across the media sector. He has worked with prominent brands like GroupM in Saudi; he has also headed the digital planning and business development department at Dentsu International, and has also been a part of TikTok KSA. In his new position as Saudi Business Development Director, Rabah will be reporting directly to Aladdin Abukhalaf, Nabd’s CCO. Rabah will concentrate mainly on the development of the firm’s AdTech-focused business strategies and implementations in Saudi across all verticals. This will include leading the teams across the Saudi regions, partner with brands, media agencies and the government.Aladdin Abukhalaf, CCO, Nabd said that along with his rich AdTech experience, from media agency and supply side backgrounds, Rabah would surely encourage people leadership, which is one of the main focus points at Nabd.

Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Al Masaood Automobiles renew partnership agreement

Abu Dhabi: Al Masaood Automobiles, the exclusive distributor of Nissan in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and the Western Region, and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) have reaffirmed their strategic partnership; a partnership that will continue to see the two organizations work together to support major sporting events and activities hosted in the nation’s capital.The partnership, first announced in March of 2022, has seen Al Masaood Automobiles Nissan sponsor a number of high-profile events, including the Leaders’ Summit, the FIBA 3X3 World Basketball Tour, and the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon. The renewed collaboration will continue to see Al Masaood Automobiles Nissan support all ADSC community events across the year, as well as other international sports events including the Spartan and Triathlon World Championships. The partnership showcases Al Masaood Automobiles’ commitment to promote sports and physical activity among youth in Abu Dhabi.“The renewed partnership between Al Masaood Automobiles and ADSC is a significant boost to position Abu Dhabi as a global sports hub,” said HE Suhail Al Areefi, Abu Dhabi Sports Council’s Executive Director of Events Sector. “It is a strategic partnership that builds on the success we have achieved in the past year and will help to ensure that Abu Dhabi remains a leading destination for major sporting events and promote community sports among the nation’s young demographics. For this, we highly appreciate the unfettered support that Al Masaood Automobiles has provided and continues to deliver.”“We are proud to continue our partnership with ADSC,” said Irfan Tansel, CEO of Al Masaood Automobiles. “This partnership is a reflection of our shared commitment to promoting sports and physical well-being in Abu Dhabi, and we look forward to working together to achieve our mutual goals. In addition, this partnership underscores our support of making the capital a global sports hub by further developing the sector in Abu Dhabi.”

Why Saudi firms should weave women’s stories into their brand campaigns?

Saudi women are in anchor roles hence brands need to embrace inclusivity and integrate women’s stories into their brand campaigns and strategies, says a study by GfK, an NIQ Company, a global leader in consumer and market intelligence, analytics, and consulting services. The study reveals comprehensive insights into Saudi consumers' attitudes, behaviors, and preferences at Seamless Saudi Arabia 2023. The event, known for showcasing cutting-edge innovations in payments, fintech, retail, e-commerce, home delivery, and digital marketing, is taking place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from September 4th to 5th, 2023.As Saudi Arabia forges ahead with its vision of digitization and sustainability through Vision 2030, GfK's study underscores the transformative changes in consumer habits and aspirations. The research reveals how Saudi Arabia is emerging as a "growing and promising" market within the Middle East region and globally, driven by visionary reforms and sustainability initiatives.Prachi Satoskar, Commercial Director at GfK an NIQ Company, emphasized: "Sustainability doesn't always equate to premium. With the right partner equipped with data science, business intelligence expertise, and AI-backed technology, businesses can navigate market and ecological challenges while achieving sustainability targets and growth."Key Findings from the Study:Saudi Women's Evolving Roles: The study highlights the prominent roles Saudi women are assuming in various aspects of society. Brands are encouraged to embrace inclusivity by integrating women's stories into their brand campaigns and strategies.Embracing Experiences: Approximately 47% of Saudi consumers prioritize experiences over possessions, reflecting their desire to explore and engage with the world beyond their homes. This trend presents an opportunity for brands to revamp loyalty and rewards programs in partnership with leisure and entertainment players.Sustainability Matters: An impressive 68% of Saudi consumers are attuned to companies' green motivations, reflecting the increasing importance of sustainability in purchase decisions. This underscores the need for brands to align measures with economic considerations to drive consumer adoption.GfK's insights provide an invaluable guide for brands and industry leaders seeking to tap into Saudi Arabia's evolving consumer landscape. As the Kingdom advances toward a more sustainable and digital future, these insights pave the way for informed business strategies that cater to changing consumer preferences.

Majid Al Futtaim forays into luxury home and beauty sectors

Majid Al Futtaim, a prominent leader in shopping malls, communities, retail, and leisure activities across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, has marked its entrance into the beauty and luxury home segments. This expansion adds two new categories to its offerings, with the brand's focus on expanding its presence in the UAE.During this year, Majid Al Futtaim has successfully launched 11 new stores within its shopping malls. This achievement is largely attributed to the brand's strategic partnerships with notable names such as the Italian furniture brand Poltrona Frau and the Japanese skincare company Shiseido, among others.As a significant aspect of these collaborations, Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle has obtained the rights to distribute Poltrona Frau Products in the UAE. This venture represents the brand's initial step into the Luxury Home category, allowing the iconic Italian brand to embark on a new phase of growth in the Middle East. Poltrona Frau's global expansion strategies have positioned it as an influential international benchmark.Fahed Ghanim, Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle, expressed excitement about the partnership with Poltrona Frau. He stated, "We are delighted to introduce Poltrona Frau's Italian masterpieces into Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle's expanding collection of world-class international brands. This collaboration aligns with our strategy of geographical and brand expansion, especially during a period of remarkable year-on-year growth. It reinforces Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle's mission to enhance the customer experience in the region."In a notable collaboration that occurred earlier in May, Majid Al Futtaim teamed up with the Japanese beauty innovator Shiseido Company. This partnership led to the inauguration of the Shiseido Ginza Tokyo brand store in the Mall of the Emirates. This store is a significant milestone for Shiseido's expansion plans and marked Majid Al Futtaim Lifestyle's entry into the beauty industry.These partnerships contributed to a 12 percent increase in footfall within the shopping malls, with the Mall of the Emirates witnessing its highest-ever first-half footfall.Beyond these collaborations, Majid Al Futtaim has launched five additional stores in the region, including two Supeco low-cost hybrid concept stores in Egypt. The brand's entertainment division continues to expand its reach across the region, as evidenced by the opening of Snow Abu Dhabi in June – the capital's inaugural indoor snow park and the fourth snow destination within the group's portfolio.

Hisense to sustain MENA growth with production expansion and new flagship store

Dubai: Global electronics leader Hisense has revealed its plans to build on production capabilities and sales growth opportunities throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as it gears up for the opening of two new production facilities, new offices, and three new flagship stores across the Levant, GCC and North Africa. This will allow Hisense more flexibility when delivering its award-winning lineup of products from home entertainment and home appliance categories in market to customers, streamlining delivery times and increasing after-sales support offerings.“Under our expansion strategy, Hisense has planned to develop new production facilities across North Africa and LEVANT region, as well as new flagship store in GCC, Saudi Arabia and LEVANT region, means we are even better placed than ever before to bring our high-performance display technologies and quality premium product offerings to more of our customers across the MENA region,” commented Jason Ou, President of Hisense Middle East and Africa.Hisense is looking to build on its MENA growth trajectory, which has seen it emerge over the past decade as one of the most preferred brands of regional consumers.“Our heavy investment in brand building through sponsorship of global sporting assets, including FIFA World Cup, Euro Cup and PSG Football Club, has accelerated our growth which is supported by our reputation for high-quality product delivery and accessibility,” added Ou.Hisense’s regional growth has been elevated by the expansion of local offices in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, and Algeria, improving regionwide operations and a more robust partner network and relations strategy. This advancement has also brought the brand closer to its key markets, allowing Hisense to better cater for its end users and network partners. We also look forward to catering to local requirements in terms of products, lifestyle, environment and social that influence the customers consumption patterns and habits with a global R&D centre based in Dubai, that will be an innovation centre for Hisense to introduce new products and technology. Strong H1 2023 sales results for the MENA region have also expanded the brand’s consumer reach and spurred the opening of new exclusive and partner-operated Hisense Care Hub service centres in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to upscale its after-service, parts, and product consultation offerings. It now plans to expand its exclusive customer care operation to the remainder of the GCC, Iraq and Algeria.Hisense is also making huge inroads into the region’s B2B air-conditioner market with a growing reputation for product efficiency. Moreover, regional white goods revenue grew by 10.33 per cent wherein air conditioning displayed a subsequent increase of 20 per cent in 2023 as compared to 2022 YTD.  Hisense secured a major contract from Dubai-based property developer Nshama to supply 1092 ducted AC units and 364 wall-mounted AC units with a total capacity of 2430 tons for its Town Square townhouse community project. These ducted units are high energy efficient products with an EER range of 11.8 to 12.3 perfectly suitable for the townhouse project.“We are on course for our best year yet in the region, and our MENA expansion strategy will be further enhanced by the introduction of new, award-winning smart and AI technology-led products,” added Ou.To the existing smart home appliances of refrigerator line-up, Hisense plans to shortly bring in smart 5S laundry series and Smart Air conditioning that are wi-fi, voice and APP controlled into the region.The company’s solid MEA performance closes a successful 12-month period that has also seen the manufacturer secure a slew of high-profile product awards, including the prestigious CES 2023 Innovation Award and EISA Award for ‘Best Product of the Year’ for its premium 4K Mini-LED ULED TV 65U8HQ, and the Tom's Guide Award 2023 for its 4K UST Triple-Laser Trichroma Projector 100L9H.

MBC and Saudi Culture Ministry to launch TV channel

Jeddah: Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan, and MBC GROUP Chairman, Waleed bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim, have officially entered into a landmark agreement aimed at unveiling a cutting-edge television channel dedicated to celebrating Saudi cultural heritage. The collaboration underscores the commitment to elevating the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a regional cultural epicenter and realizing the aspirations set forth by the Saudi Vision 2030 initiative.Scheduled for launch in September, the upcoming channel will be seamlessly integrated into the MBC satellite package and the popular online platform This novel initiative aims to engage not only the intellectual elite but also a wider audience, offering around-the-clock interactive programming that showcases the Kingdom's rich cultural legacy.This new channel is set to fortify Saudi Arabia's presence on the global stage, particularly within the realm of innovation, by introducing a plethora of distinctive programs spanning literature, poetry, theater, cinema, fashion, and culinary arts. Designed to captivate both local and international viewers, the channel will serve as a bridge that connects cultures and fosters a deeper appreciation for the multifaceted facets of Saudi culture.Beyond its television offering, the agreement encompasses the launch of a digital media platform with a specialized focus on crafting engaging video content tailored for online platforms. Moreover, the platform will curate and disseminate a wide range of content, including articles, podcasts, and documentaries, designed to expand the horizons of local content creators. This strategic move will facilitate meaningful collaborations between content creators and domain experts, amplifying their impact and reach.The establishment of this culturally enriching channel comes at an opportune time, coinciding with the Kingdom's remarkable journey towards a cultural renaissance spurred by the Saudi Vision 2030 framework. As Saudi Arabia's next generation eagerly embraces rapid technological advancements, the channel is poised to inspire and nurture creativity, providing an invaluable platform for the expression and preservation of cultural heritage.Minister of Culture, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan, expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration, stating, "This partnership marks a significant step towards the realization of our cultural ambitions and the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030. Through this channel, we aim to strengthen our global cultural footprint, celebrate our heritage, and foster cross-cultural understanding."MBC GROUP Chairman, Waleed bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim, shared his excitement about the venture, saying, "We are proud to join hands with the Ministry of Culture in this transformative endeavor. By creating a dedicated channel for Saudi cultural heritage, we are embracing our role as cultural catalysts and contributing to the Kingdom's cultural narrative on a grand scale."As the launch date approaches, anticipation is growing for the unveiling of this groundbreaking channel that is poised to shape the future of Saudi cultural engagement and contribute to the ongoing realization of Saudi Vision 2030.

Onur Tepeli appointed as FeatureMind’s CEO

DUBAI:  FeatureMind, a leading provider of digital solutions within the retail environment, today announced that Onur Tepeli has joined the company as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In this role, Onur will develop and execute a growth-oriented strategy that will help to build on the company’s presence in the region, leading the FeatureMind team based out of the Middle East, Turkey and Nigeria and supporting the growth of partnerships with Salesforce, Mulesoft, Akeneo and other leading providers.As CEO, Onur will work to support the continued growth of the businesses, adding momentum to the region and scaling the team. He will prioritise innovation, imagination and excellence in implementation that bring value to FeatureMind’s clients as customers’ businesses and operational needs shift, streamlining complex requirements.Onur is a proven technology leader with decades of international experience in customer-centric business growth. Most recently, he served as Head of Digital Engagement Practice, Turkey at EPAM Solutions – a digital transformation services and product engineering company – where he headed up digital customer services functions for the Middle East. Before this, he worked at Emakina (now acquired by EPAM Solutions) – a full-service digital agency with global reach, as the Managing Director, UAE, having been based in Dubai for over twelve years.Edwin Stonestreet, Managing Director at FeatureMind, said:“I could not be more excited to welcome Onur to the team. This is an appointment that reaffirms our commitment to servicing our clients in-region with a wealth of expertise and proven competence. Onur’s knowledge and ability to take a holistic view of our business in the retail-tech space will bring great value to our company and our customers. We look forward to him continuing to drive growth and innovation within our business model, with his integral contribution to our customer-centric promise for service and results.”Onur Tepeli, Chief Executive Officer at FeatureMind, said:“FeatureMind brings together all the components of what is required and appreciated in this industry from world leading middleware through Order Management, Content Management, Product Information Management and innovative In Store solutions. Acting as a leader of change in end-to-end omnichannel support and management, FeatureMind is well-positioned to help customers address some of the biggest challenges and complexities that clients face today, as the march to enhanced customer experience journeys continues at pace. I am looking forward to working with this highly talented team.

BMW Group ME strengthens esports commitment with Nigma Galaxy partnership

Dubai: BMW Group Middle East, the iconic premium automotive manufacturer, has unveiled its partnership with Nigma Galaxy, one of the biggest esports teams in the MENA region. This exciting collaboration underscores BMW Group Middle East's involvement in the esports community, further supporting the rapidly growing local gaming scene.Nigma Galaxy, a global esports brand, emerged in 2019 through the merger of Team Nigma and Galaxy Racer, and has quickly risen to prominence in the gaming world.Founded by four of the most successful players in the esports realm, Nigma Galaxy boasts 6 esports teams competing across different games, including popular titles such as League of Legends, Dota 2, PUBG Mobile, and more. At the forefront of developing esports infrastructure and nurturing local talent in the MENA region, Team Nigma has a very active presence in the gaming arena in the region and beyond, participating in top events such as Gamers8, currently taking place in Riyadh until August 31, 2023.BMW Group Middle East has been steadily expanding its presence in the esports landscape the last few years, following a number of exciting partnerships with Publicis Groupe. The Nigma Galaxy partnership, which was defined and driven by Publicis Groupe together with BMW Group Middle East, will further accelerate the automotive brand’s presence in esports, elevating the gaming experience for enthusiasts around the world.Dr. Hamid Haqparwar, Managing Director at BMW Group Middle East, said, "As a gamer myself, I am very thrilled to join forces with Nigma Galaxy, a leading player in the esports domain. BMW Group Middle East will continue to play an active role in the gaming community as part of its commitment to encourage and foster talents in the region. As we embark on this partnership, we aim to engage with gaming enthusiasts and create unforgettable experiences that reflect both Nigma Galaxy's and BMW's community values."Emphasising the shared values that underpin this partnership, Christoph Timm, co-founder of Nigma Galaxy said, "This collaboration with BMW Group Middle East resonates deeply with our vision and values. BMW's passion for excellence and constant innovation aligns seamlessly with our commitment to pushing the boundaries of esports. Together, we aim to inspire and empower a new generation of gamers, supporting their dreams and aspirations in this exciting world of competitive gaming while creating unforgettable experiences that bridge the gap between the virtual and physical worlds."The partnership between BMW Group Middle East and Nigma Galaxy is also sound when viewed around the latter’s core values of passion, innovation, people and sportsmanship. Both brands embody a relentless passion for what they do, striving to exceed expectations and elevate their performance to new heights. Innovation is deeply ingrained in their DNA, with BMW's commitment to sustainability and cutting-edge technology aligning with Nigma Galaxy's pioneering spirit in the esports industry.The human element is central to their operations, as both organisations recognise the crucial role played by their teams and communities. Finally, sportsmanship serves as the foundation of their competitive spirit, whether it's while pushing the limits on the road or dominating the esports arena.To announce the partnership, the brands unveiled a collab video featuring two of Nigma Galaxy’s top names, Hamody and LORD. The gamers put their skill and focus to the test while in the backseat of a BMW M5 Competition, demonstrating their exceptional abilities as they engage in esports while on the move in the dashing sports saloon at the Dubai Autodrome.As Nigma Galaxy furthers its pursuit of nurturing local talent and promoting esports on a global stage, BMW Group Middle East is committed to supporting this mission through its extensive expertise and resources. With its headquarters in Abu Dhabi, Nigma Galaxy is uniquely positioned to develop talents in the Middle East, creating a stronger bond between the international esports league and the MENA region, while simultaneously opening doors for local talent to flourish.The BMW-Nigma Galaxy partnership marks an exciting chapter in the esports industry, combining the legacy and innovation of the automotive brand with the talent and ambition of the esports team. Together, they strive to elevate the esports experience, create unforgettable moments for fans, and inspire the next generation of gaming enthusiasts.

Majid Al Futtaim announces half year financial results

Dubai: Majid Al Futtaim (“the Group”), the leading shopping malls, communities, retail, and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia, today announced its operational and financial results for the period ending June 30, 2023. During the first half of the year, Majid Al Futtaim reported a 5% increase in consolidated revenue to AED 18.9 billion, and EBITDA growth of 13% year-on-year to AED 2.1 billion.Reporting growth across all its businesses, the Group’s positive performance was underpinned by focused efforts to drive operational excellence and further buoyed by the UAE’s thriving economy. The Group continues to maintain a healthy balance sheet with assets valued at approximately AED 68 billion.Commenting on the results, Ahmed Galal Ismail, Chief Executive Officer, Majid Al Futtaim – Holding, said: “Majid Al Futtaim is successfully balancing strategic growth with profitable and responsible execution. Our efforts to drive defined business objectives across our portfolio with a renewed focus on operational excellence and productivity are delivering sustainable, profitable growth and value to our stakeholders.“The economic buoyancy of the UAE in conjunction with our internal focus to unlock the inherent power of our ecosystem, has enabled the Group to deliver a solid half year performance. Majid Al Futtaim will continue to evolve, anchoring strategic choices in value-creation that support the evolving needs of our customers, colleagues and communities across the region.”Operating Company PerformanceMajid Al Futtaim – Properties: Net revenue increased 39% year-on-year to AED 3.4 billion, while EBITDA grew 22% to AED 1.7 billion. Performance was primarily driven by UAE-based shopping malls and Tilal Al Ghaf residential real estate development.Shopping Malls footfall increased 12%, boosted by Mall of the Emirates recording its highest ever first-half footfall. Tenant sales grew 7%, with UAE-based malls making the largest contribution. Hotels remained steady with occupancy rates and RevPAR (revenue per available room) growing at 3% and 2% respectively.Tilal Al Ghaf maintained its impressive sales performance through the first half of the year, including the record-breaking sale of an ultra-luxury villa at Lanai Islands and the completion of 916 residential units, significantly contributing to the sustained growth of the Properties business.Majid Al Futtaim – Retail: Driven primarily by the impact of currency devaluations across the Group’s footprint, overall revenue declined by 2% to AED 14.1 billion with EBITDA dipping 7%. At a constant currency rate, revenue grew 8% and EBITDA grew 5%. Online performance of Retail’s digital business remained strong, recording a 13% increase in revenue to AED 1.2 billion in the first half of 2023.Over the same period, Majid Al Futtaim opened five new stores across the region, including two further Supeco low-cost, hybrid concept stores in Egypt. These efforts underline the Group’s continued work to meet the growing consumer demand for digital and omnichannel experiences.Majid Al Futtaim – Entertainment: Revenue increased by 4% to AED 822 million and EBITDA grew 39% to AED 46 million, as the cinemas business continues to recover from delays and adjustments to its content pipeline.More broadly, Majid Al Futtaim’s entertainment business continues to expand its footprint across the region. In June 2023, the Group opened Snow Abu Dhabi, the capital’s first indoor snow park and the Group’s fourth snow destination, underscoring its commitment to deliver innovative, family-friendly and immersive experiences across the region.Majid Al Futtaim – Lifestyle: Revenue increased by 31% to AED 473 million and EBITDA improved by 300% to AED 12 million over the first six months of the year.The Lifestyle business opened 11 new stores in the first half of the year and entered two new categories; Luxury Home and Beauty. In January, the business introduced prestigious Italian furniture brand, Poltrona Frau to the region, and in May opened the only Shiseido store outside of Asia. The new brands complement Lifestyle’s pre-existing portfolio of 8 leading franchise and 2 homegrown brands and provide additional opportunity to further the business’ consistent year on year double digit growth.Progress on Sustainable ImpactMajid Al Futtaim continues to lead the region in prioritising long-term sustainable growth aligned to science-based targets and validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The Group remains on track to become Net Positive in carbon and water by 2040 and through its commitment to phase out single-use plastics, supported by Government-mandated taxation in the UAE, Majid Al Futtaim has achieved 82% reduction in the consumption of single-use plastic.The Group, recognised as a pioneer in sustainable financing for the region, issued its USD 500 million green sukuk in June this year. Proceeds from the issuance will be directed to funding eligible green projects under its 2019 green finance framework. This marks Majid Al Futtaim’s fourth Green capital markets issuance underscoring its commitment to responsible financing and its overall ESG goals.In June 2023, the Mall of the Emirates was presented with a LEED Platinum Award for Operations and Maintenance following its certification in late 2022, making it the largest mall in the world to receive such certification.The Group has also maintained its low risk ESG rating by Sustainalytics.FinancingMajid Al Futtaim continues to maintain a strong financial and liquidity position backed by a well-balanced financing mix encompassing capital markets and bank financing. Net borrowings are at AED 15 billion, with most of the debt maturing 2026 onwards.The Group has upheld its BBB credit rating with a stable outlook from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.

Shanadi Liyanage joins Rixos The Palm Dubai Hotel & Suites

Dubai: Rixos The Palm Dubai Hotel & Suites, the renowned luxury ultra-all-inclusive resort nestled on the eastern crescent of the iconic Palm Jumeirah, is pleased to introduce Shanadi Liyanage, a seasoned lifestyle marketeer, as its new Marketing Manager. With a commitment to pursuing her personal passions and a remarkable track record in brand marketing, strategic thinking, and creative innovation, Shanadi brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the role, perfectly aligning with the ethos of Rixos Hotels. Her seamless transition to this role further underscores her dedication to infuse her personal interests and passions with her profession, solidifying her position as a leading lifestyle marketeer. As a global citizen well versed with international fashion brands, Shanadi is keen to encourage high fashion editorials within the property to cater to the luxury travel connoisseurs. The fact that she can combine her hobbies with her profession makes her job all the more enjoyable and exhilarating, making this the dream appointment for her.  Hailing from Sri Lanka and having studied Business and Social Entrepreneurship at Antioch University in California, USA, Shanadi has carved an impressive career as a brand marketeer specialising in lifestyle hospitality. Her journey includes spearheading the creation of distinctive brand identities for esteemed names in the high-end luxury lifestyle sector including with several of Accor Group's lifestyle brands under Ennismore. Prior to her current role, she has been involved in a range of exciting projects including having the honour to collaborate with international productions such as Dubai Bling on Netflix and Real Housewives of Dubai on Bravo TV, working alongside renowned celebrities like Jason Derulo, Becky Hill, and Ronan Keating.  Shanadi brings a vibrant and dynamic perspective to her work, fuelled by her passions for travel, fashion, design, and global cuisine with her marketing prowess further enhanced by her love of content creation on TikTok and Instagram. At the heart of her expertise lies lifestyle hospitality, where she excels in crafting distinct and unconventional experiences. Shanadi understands the significance of blending design, architecture, décor, fragrances, music, and culinary excellence to create a memorable and holistic guest journey. "I am thrilled to join the esteemed team at Rixos The Palm Dubai Hotel & Suites," Shanadi expressed. “My vision is to transform this incredible resort into the ultimate lifestyle destination in Dubai, where couples can find a haven to relax and indulge in their time together, while ensuring their children are exceptionally cared for.”  Ali Ozbey, Regional Director of Marketing and Communications at Rixos Hotels, commented on the appointment, "We are delighted to announce Shanadi Liyanage as our new Marketing Manager at Rixos The Palm Dubai Hotel & Suites and we are excited to witness the energy and enthusiasm she will bring to the property. Her dynamic perspective and commitment to crafting unique experiences perfectly align with our ambition to be a global leader in the luxury all-inclusive sector. It is fantastic to have her on board as we continue to give our guests unparalleled experiences.”  Shanadi's vision further extends to positioning Rixos The Palm Dubai Hotel & Suites as the ultimate lifestyle resort on the Palm Jumeirah, capturing the essence of vibrant living and family-centric experiences. She envisions a destination where stylish young couples can revel in romantic evenings while their children enjoy the safe and engaging Rixy kids club.  In her new role, Shanadi is determined to elevate the guest experience to even higher levels of excellence, and Rixos The Palm Dubai Hotel & Suites is delighted to have her as part of the Rixos family.

Phil Roberts promoted to Cluster Hotel Manager Role

Dubai: Radisson Blu Dubai Media City and Park Inn by Radisson Motor City are excited to announce the well-deserved promotion of Phil Roberts to the position of Cluster Hotel Manager. In this diverse and challenging role, Roberts will oversee the operations of two great well established Dubai Hotels: the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Media City and the Park Inn by Radisson Dubai Motor City. Phil's journey within the Radisson family began as the Director of Food and Beverage at Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Media City having joined from a Hotel Manager role at a European resort Hotel. During his Radisson tenure he began managing a diverse portfolio of five dining venues including front and back of house operations, as well as a large catering operation. From there Roberts moved up into the Director of Hotel Operations role, managing the Hotel operations in their entirety. Roberts oversaw outlet renovation, concept implementation as well as key capital projects for Hotel investment, whilst overseeing all department operations delivering consistent high standards of service quality as the loyal returning guests of Radisson Blu Dubai Media City have come to expect, and rightly demand, over the last seventeen years.In his new capacity as Cluster Hotel Manager, Roberts will begin the challenge of leading the operations of the Motor City market leading Park Inn Hotel, one of the highest achieving Park Inn Hotels in the brand globally for guest satisfaction results. This will include the Hotel’s outside catering operations and event management.James Berry, the Cluster General Manager for Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Media City and Park Inn Hotel Motor City, is very proud to see Roberts to continue to develop, "I am delighted to witness Phil's remarkable journey from Director of Food and Beverage now to Cluster Hotel Manager. It is important to develop careers for our people, and grow our talent for our Radisson family as leaders of the future, but sometimes it is easier to get out of someone’s’ way, as in this case with Phil. Over the past 3 years, he has consistently demonstrated his passion, diligence, and invaluable contributions to our brands, and got the results he deserved. I have full confidence in his ability to drive outstanding performance across all operational aspects in both Hotels."In his own words, Phil Roberts shares his excitement for his new role, stating, "I am deeply honoured to be entrusted with the responsibility of shaping and executing the operational strategy of these two exceptional Radisson hotels. Since joining the Radisson Hotel Group, I have taken immense pride in delivering and demonstrating high standards of guest care, and I am excited to get the chance to apply those standards to a new bigger challenge."

Kwai's "Live" feature enhances interactive social media content in MENA

Dubai: Social Media usage in the MENA region has grown substantially to over 260 million users, representing nearly 57% of the total population in the region. This reflects the ongoing digital revolution sweeping through the area at present.Previous studies have shown that people in the Middle East and North Africa spend an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes daily on social media, highlighting the pivotal role these platforms play in people's lives. It is expected that the use of social media in the region will continue to grow, with the number of users reaching 300 million by the end of 2023.In this context, Ma Da, General Manager for MENA business of Kuaishou International Business, KSIB emphasized the dominance of visual content on social media platforms. Specialized reports indicate that 73% of users watch video clips on social media, including our platform "Kwai," one of the leading global platforms for short video content and a key player in user interaction with features tailored to their needs, particularly the "Live" feature for video content.Kwai's "Live" feature is characterized by numerous options that enhance the live video viewing experience. Viewers can interact directly with broadcasters through comments, likes, and virtual gifts. The "Live" feature on Kwai supports up to 10,000 viewers simultaneously, facilitating seamless communication between content creators and their audience.Kwai is committed to delivering high-quality video content to ensure the best viewing experience for users by delivering videos in high definition. Kwai's "Live" feature proves to be an indispensable tool for individuals and influencers to connect with their audience and enhance effective communication within the growing communities around their content.Ma Da, General Manager for MENA business of Kuaishou International Business, KSIB stated, "Users of Kwai's Live data, focus on content related to lifestyle, fashion, beauty, food, travel, and fitness. Comedy content holds a significant share, alongside news and events, catering to sports enthusiasts, entertainment lovers, and technology enthusiasts. Additionally, the platform offers educational and informative content through instructional videos and effective lessons on various subjects."It is worth mentioning that Kwai, the global platform specializing in showcasing short video clips, boasts over 650 million active users worldwide. The application allows users to create, share, and interact with short video clips of various genres. Thanks to its presence in more than 150 countries and regions, Kwai has become a global hub for creativity and communication.

Wasslz signs MoU with Al Hussein Technical University

Amman, Jordan: Wasslz, an Internet of Things (IoT) startup dedicated to digitally transforming how people live and work, recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Al Hussein Technical University (HTU). Through this partnership, the two parties will work together on the research and development of an AI-powered electronic device recognition system, which will ultimately aim to advance progress and innovation in the field of smart energy solutions.As an academic-industrial collaboration, the partnership between Wasslz and HTU will engage local youth in activities that will advance their education and their long-term career prospects in the ICT sector, allowing them to gain a high-quality, market-driven technical education. Both partners will contribute to the research and development efforts of this landmark project, which will work to integrate advancements in artificial intelligence with the development of IoT smart energy solutions.Commenting on the occasion, the President of Al Hussein Technical University, Professor Ismael Al-Hinti, said, “At HTU, we are always pursuing opportunities to provide our students with highly engaging, practical, and meaningful educational activities—activities that will ultimately add value to their long-term career prospects and drive the progress of Jordan’s ICT sector. We are delighted to partner with an innovative startup like Wasslz, and we look forward to seeing this partnership grow and flourish in the years to come.”Meanwhile, the President of Wasslz and Managing Partner of Globitel, Fadi Qutaishat, added, “It is our greatest pleasure to partner with an esteemed technical university like HTU. The work being done by Wasslz is revolutionizing the Internet of Things landscape, especially with the integration of artificial intelligence, and we are eager to engage the young, creative, ambitious minds at HTU in helping drive industry-wide progress and innovation, by giving them an opportunity to learn through the practical, hands-on application of the knowledge they are gaining in the classroom.”

InMobi Acquires Quantcast Choice

InMobi, a leading provider of content monetization and marketing technologies that help businesses fuel growth, has announced the acquisition of Quantcast Choice, a consent management platform (CMP) designed to help publishers seamlessly align with the rapidly changing global privacy regulations. This strategic acquisition reinforces InMobi’s commitment to bolstering its privacy management platform for mobile app and web publishers, empowering them to navigate the dynamic and intricate privacy landscape.As privacy regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) evolved, CMPs have become critical for publishers to ensure compliance and maintain ad revenue. The lack of a proven CMP often results in lost opportunities for publishers, as many of the leading demand partners require the use of a CMP that supports the latest privacy standards maintained by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Quantcast Choice supports more than 500 Google-Certified, 800 IAB-approved vendors, and non-certified vendors specific to publishers’ needs. This inclusive approach helps publishers increase monetization, higher fill rates, and sometimes up to a 35% boost in eCPMs in certain regions. As part of the acquisition, InMobi will uphold the platform’s free availability for existing customers and remains committed to extending this promise to both existing and new customers.“InMobi has always been at the forefront of building solutions that help brands and publishers alike navigate the complex global privacy landscape. This acquisition allows us to bring the power of a proven world-class CMP into the in-app ecosystem where the challenges remain enormous and unresolved,” says Kunal Nagpal, Chief Business Officer, InMobi Advertising. “Quantcast Choice is a gold standard for thousands of Web publishers; we are excited to build and extend its benefits to the 40,000 mobile apps that currently work with InMobi.” “Quantcast Choice was born of our commitment to protecting consumer privacy and we’re proud of helping so many businesses meet the needs of an evolving regulatory landscape,” says Peter Day, CTO, Quantcast. “InMobi understands the needs of publishers and we’re delighted that this market leading CMP will continue to be available as a free solution. We remain committed to our customers and have formed a close partnership with InMobi to ensure a seamless transition.”The addition of a reliable, scalable and versatile CMP aligns with InMobi’s commitment in delivering comprehensive publisher monetization solutions. InMobi plans to seamlessly integrate the CMP within its extensive publisher SDK offering, delivering improved data governance, easy consent management, and heightened privacy control, thereby ensuring full compliance with global privacy regulations and fostering trust with their audiences. The transition of Quantcast Choice customers to InMobi’s offering is set to begin in the coming months, with the launch of the new publisher offering expected in the early fall.

BOUNZ and EROS announce strategic partnership

Dubai: UAE-based lifestyle loyalty program BOUNZ has announced a strategic partnership with the well-known electronics retailer and distributor Eros Group.Timed to coincide with the upcoming Back to School and Back to Work period after a long summer break, this move brings on board the BOUNZ family its first all-electronic partner. Members can earn 1 BOUNZ on every AED 6 spent on Electronics and 2 BOUNZ for every 6 AED spent on Accessories at 9 EROS stores across UAE and online at Earn and redeem on the app and enjoy instant savings at over 35 partners across groceries, travel, dining, jewellery, electronics and more. You can even pay telephone, utility, and internet bills by redeeming BOUNZ in full or with a combination of cash and BOUNZ. Or redeem your BOUNZ to purchase gift cards on the app.It was also confirmed that the collaboration will be further enhanced in Q2 2024, with digital receipts and in-app purchase (BOUNZ members will be able to buy EROS electronics and accessories on the app itself) added to the app’s portfolio of services. Sridhar Krishnamurthy, Managing Partner, and Co-Founder of BOUNZ, reaffirmed the programme’s promise of always working with best in their category partners.“We aim to leverage the Eros Group’s legacy, its customer base and its reputation in the market for excellence. At BOUNZ, we firmly believe that such associations upgrade the suite of exclusive benefits and other personalized offers for our members, and we will continue to add other partners of the highest calibre to our portfolio,” he said.“A key indicator of our high level of customer engagement is evident from the fact that out of the +600 million BOUNZ points in our members' wallets, nearly 50% have already been redeemed. Such impressive numbers for a young programme like ours is testament to the programme’s robustness and bodes well for partners like EROS.”BOUNZ already counts the likes of Choithrams, Emirates Draw, Al Jaber Optical and Joyalukkas as partners and just recently launched a new state-of-the-art app.The app can be download from the Apple App Store, Huawei App Gallery or Google Play store.  Promising smoother navigation, faster loading times, and improved responsiveness, the new app had been lauded for delivering a more intuitive and engaging experience for current and potential customers. Mohammed Badri, Managing Director, Eros Group added, “This collaboration with BOUNZ is a major addition in our endeavour to enhance the EROS experience by engaging with a loyalty partner who shares our customer-centric approach. For us as a leading tech retailer and distributor, BOUNZ’s data-driven insights will go a long way in helping us develop our consumer engagement strategy.”

Viola Communications appoints Fady Karim, Ahmed El Sheikh

Viola Communications, a marketing and communications solutions provider in the MENA region, has made two important appointments to reinforce client services from its Abu Dhabi headquarters. Viola Communications is a fast-growing Abu Dhabi-based group specializing in providing fully integrated marketing and communications solutions to national and regional firms with head office in Abu Dhabi and other offices in Dubai and Cairo.In a recent development, the company has appointed Fady Karim and Ahmed El Sheikh.Fady Karim, the new Integrated Client Services Director, brings in a wealth of experience to Viola. He has more than 24 years of expertise in management and communications. Karim has worked for several projects of different clients, including Meraas, Red Bull, Aldar, Dubai Properties, Philips, Abu Dhabi Airport and many more.He will be responsible for developing and optimizing marketing communications, advertising campaigns and producing strategies that can augment stakeholder value.The second appointee, Ahmed El Sheikh, has taken up the role of Group Account Director. It is a powerful position that requires a highly skilled professional capable of multi-tasking and trouble-shooting while creating and maintaining full alignment between clients and the agency’s internal teams.El Sheikh has about 18 years of experience in the marketing and advertising industry, which makes him perfect for the role. He has experience in business advertising, branding, events and activations, and digital media platforms in the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.El Sheikh’s role at Viola demands exceptional project management skills which he has honed with clients including Pepsi, Mobil, Samsung Mobile, Nescafe, NCB, General Motors & Mansour Automotive and GM North Africa, Etisalat and SAMA (Saudi Central Bank).

Atteline assigns Malaika Fernandes as ambassador of its sustainability division

Atteline, an award-winning integrated communications agency founded and headquartered in the UAE, has appointed Malaika Fernandes as Sustainability Ambassador and Strategic Counsel. This is with regard to the launch of its new sustainability specialism, solidifying its commitment to environmental and social responsibility across its consumer and corporate divisions.With this significant milestone, Atteline would surely become B Corp-certified by 2024, making it the first UAE-headquartered integrated communications agency to achieve this prestigious recognition. Atteline is dedicated to integrating sustainable practices into its business operations and fostering positive change in the communications industry.Malaika Fernandes, who would be the brand Ambassador, is thrilled to be associated with Atteline’s Sustainability Division, fueled by a passionate team with a vision to amplify voices for good and drive meaningful change in the UAE and beyond. She further acknowledged that by embracing more sustainable practices and pursuing B Corp certification, the company would surely align purpose with action and embark on an impactful journey. Moreover, as a certified B Corp, Atteline would be among businesses leading a global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy.Key Initiatives of AttelineA few of Atteline's initiatives include partnering with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to support awareness and advocacy efforts around the displacement crisis in the MENA region and the growing needs of those displaced by war, conflict, persecution, and the effect of climate change and natural disasters. Atteline has also commenced sustainable action by decarbonising its staff’s carbon footprint through a monthly carbon reduction plan, supporting four key projects to accelerate the company’s climate action and reduce the footprint of its employees’ personal and professional lifestyles.Also in 2020, Atteline took on its first pro bono client Azraq, a non-profit marine conservation organisation, on a mission to safeguard and protect the oceanic ecosystem.

Guy Hutchinson back on board at Hilton as president, ME, Africa region

Guy Hutchinson has been appointed as president, Hilton Group in Middle East and Africa region.  However, he will be commencing his new role in Hilton by next year.  Presently, Hutchinson serves as the president and CEO of Abu Dhabi-based hotel management company Rotana. He has been with Rotana for a decade. Along with his experience with Rotana, he has had previous experience of more than 16 years at Hilton, spanning across the Middle East, Europe, Japan, China, Australia, and India, where he served as vice president of operations until 2014.This appointment of Hutchinson as president of Hilton in MENA is due to the sudden passing of Jochem-Jan Sleiffer (widely known by his initials JJ) in April 2023. JJ had worked at Hilton for over 33 years. He was president of the Middle East, Africa and Türkiye at the time of his demise.Hutchinson will be based at Hilton’s regional office in Dubai, and will report to Simon Vincent CBE, EVP and president for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Hilton.Simon Vincent said: “Finding the right individual to propel our Middle East and Africa region forward has been of the utmost importance as we considered this pivotal leadership position. Guy brings regional operations expertise, genuine passion for hospitality, and a leadership style aligned with our Hilton culture. Amidst a period of unparalleled growth and performance in MEA, under Guy’s leadership I am confident we will continue to build on the significant momentum achieved in the region.”Guy Hutchinson added, “I am delighted to return to Hilton to lead the Middle East and Africa region and continue the incredible work that my friend JJ spearheaded. I started my career with Hilton in Amsterdam and have always admired this iconic hospitality brand and its superb culture. I look forward to leading Hilton’s next chapter in MEA and working with a team known for delivering incredible guest experiences and best-in-class results.”Hilton currently has a 285 hotels, either operational or under development, across the Middle East and Africa region, with 11 brands, supported by a workforce exceeding 29,000 individuals.In 2023, Hilton opened several new hotels, including Hilton Skanes Monastir Beach Resort and Hilton Kinshasa, and secured agreements for destinations including Ghana, Nigeria, Tunisia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

The Loeries unveils the Jury and Presidents for 2023

The Loeries, Africa and the Middle East’s premier award festival, has unveiled its Jury Presidents and jury panels for 2023’s Loeries Creative Week. The festival will be organised in the city of Cape Town from 2nd to 6th October of this year.It is the 45th year of the success of The Loeries festival week, which recognises, rewards, inspires and fosters creative excellence in the advertising and brand communication industry. Winning a Loerie is the highest accolade for creativity and innovation across the MENA region.It is a not-for-profit company, which promotes and supports creativity by helping marketers, agencies and consumers, and appreciates the value of fresh thinking, innovative ideas and outstanding execution. This year, the festival will include awards evenings, masterclasses, seminars, workshops and networking dinners.Jury Presidents of Loeries 2023The highly acclaimed Loeries festival will have a 16 judging panel, led by 10 Jury Presidents, in which four come from the Middle Eastern region. This year the Jury Presidents are from the MENA region, unlike the previous years where Jury Presidents from outside the region were invited. Among the Jury presidents from the UAE are Ali Rez, Aakriti Goel and Tahaab Rais.Ali Rez will be heading up the print and print crafts categories. He will be accompanied by Mike Barnwell.Aakriti Goel from Leo Burnett’s along with Brian Mtongana, will lead the student category, while Publicis’ Tahaab Rais and Vaughan Croeser will oversee the social impact campaign, service design and effective creativity.Rana Hamarneh, the final Jury President from the region, joins from Jordan. She will lead the panel of judges for the media innovation category.The complete list of the Jury Presidents for the Awards is given below:• Ali Rez, Chief Creative Officer, Impact BBDO• Aakriti Goel, Head of Strategy & Insights, Leo Burnett MEA• Brian Mtongana, Executive Creative Director, Woolworths• Carl Willoughby, Chief Creative Officer, TBWA\ Hunt Lascaris• Mike Barnwell, Creative Consultant, Independent• Tahaab Rais, Chief Strategy Officer, Publicis Groupe• Terry McKenna, Executive Creative Director, The Odd Number• Rana Hamarneh Partner & Group Chief Executive Officer, AdPro Jordan• Vaughan Croeser, Vice President, Marketing, AbinBev• Xolisa Dyeshana, Chief Creative Officer, Joe Public UnitedThe Loeries Judging Panels Apart from the Jury Presidents, there is a total of 11 judges from the region who will be on the judging panels this year.• Anshuman Bhattacharya, Creative Director, Havas Dubai• Bassam Doss, Senior Copywriter, Horizon FCB MINA• Camila Venegaz Gomez, Associate Creative Director, M&C SAATCHI Abu Dhabi• Deanne Hofhuis, Creative Agency Partnerships Lead, METAP, Tiktok MENA• Federico Fanti, Chief Creative Officer, FP7 MENA• Jonathan Cruz, Creative Director, ? and us• Kalpesh Patankar, Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett MENA• Rana Najjar, Senior Creative Director, Momentum Mena• Rana Sadek, Associate Creative Director, Impact BBDO• Sanele Ngubane, Founder / Creative Director, Samish• Samer Lahoud, Creative Studio Director, Saudi Tourism Authority

OFC signs MOU with Saudi Arabian Football Federation

Sydney: Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at creating reciprocal growth opportunities.The MOU will focus on three pillars, Women’s football, Beach Soccer and Futsal.OFC and SAFF will collaborate and cooperate in areas such as Technical and Managerial Football Development, Competitions and Friendly Matches.“The recent development of women’s football in Saudi Arabia with a women’s football league and a women’s national team is commendable and OFC will be happy to share its expertise and help SAFF in this area.” OFC President Lambert Maltock said.The MOU will allow for Women’s Football, Futsal and Beach Soccer teams from Saudi Arabia to participate as guest teams in relevant OFC competitions and vice versa.SAFF President Yasser Al Misehal commented: “this partnership with OFC will allow us to consolidate knowhow and grow Women’s football, Futsal and Beach Soccer together. It represents a great opportunity as well to hold friendly and official matches with Member Associations from OFC in all age categories.”OFC and SAFF will explore exchange opportunities in the fields of football technical development and management focusing on the three pillars. Exchanges include areas, amongst others, such as general management, marketing and commercial activities, sport facilities, coach development, referees, or league and competition development.The MOU is for an initial period of five years.

Anna Gidirim: Leading Admitad's global performance marketing triumph

In this exclusive interview with Adgully Middle East, Anna Gidirim, the CEO of Admitad, delves into the company's remarkable journey from a small affiliate marketing network to a global force in performance marketing. Gidirim shares insights into Admitad's major milestones, innovative strategies, and effective team management in a diverse and multicultural environment. She offers a glimpse into the future of performance marketing, how AI is shaping the industry, and her personal approach to maintaining work-life balance. Gidirim's wisdom and experience provide valuable guidance to aspiring entrepreneurs and professionals, particularly women, looking to excel in the dynamic worlds of marketing and technology. Excerpts:As the CEO of Admitad, could you share some insights into how the company has evolved since its inception in 2009 ? What are some of the major milestones or achievements that you are particularly proud of ?Since its founding in 2009, Admitad has undergone remarkable growth and transformation. We started as a small affiliate marketing network and have evolved into a global performance marketing company with a wide range of innovative solutions. Some of our major milestones include expanding our international presence and opening offices in 11 countries, developing advanced technology to enhance affiliate marketing, and establishing partnerships with leading brands including Aliexpress, Emirates, Sharaf DG, Dubai Store, Ournass and many more which generate 5 billion dollars annually with our platform. I am particularly proud of our consistent focus on innovation and our ability to adapt to changing market trends. Admitad has a team of over 350 employees worldwide. How do you manage such a diverse and multicultural team ? What are some of the strategies you employ to ensure effective communication and collaboration ?Managing a diverse and multicultural team is a priority for us at Admitad. We value different perspectives and experiences, which contribute to our creativity and problem-solving. To ensure effective communication and collaboration, we utilize digital tools for seamless virtual interaction, encourage open dialogue through regular team meetings, and organize cross-functional projects to foster teamwork and share the experience among different geographies. The company additionally facilitates language courses and provides training for navigating within a multicultural environment, aiming to enhance the efficacy of communication across diverse geos.You have mentioned the focus on innovation, what does it mean for Admitad ? How do you see the future of performance marketing evolving ?The landscape of innovation has become notably challenging due to recent regulatory shifts concerning personal data usage and the latest advancements introduced by prominent players like Apple and Google. Given that our business hinges on tracking, these changes have profoundly transformed its foundation. Had we not proactively anticipated and commenced preparations for these shifts several years ago, our operational capacity would have been compromised. Presently, we persist in refining our tools while foreseeing the forthcoming phases in the evolution of the MarTech sector. For us, this isn't just a matter of thriving; it's vital for our survival.Looking ahead, I see performance marketing continuing to evolve through instant payout solutions, AI, data-driven insights, personalized customer experiences, and stronger collaborations between advertisers and affiliates. There are also more and more small and medium enterprises entering the world of affiliate marketing and recognizing its benefits for growth. Can you provide some key points on how affiliate marketing can drive small and medium businesses forward ?One of the key advantages of affiliate marketing for SMEs which usually does not have large marketing budgets is that instead of paying upfront for clicks or ads, businesses only pay a fee when affiliates bring actual results. It is like having a team of online marketers who earn rewards based on how well they do. This helps smaller businesses show their brand more, reach more customers, and make more sales, without risking a lot of money upfront. Platforms such as Admitad Rise help SMEs to start affiliate campaigns easily and faster. They have a large group of affiliates, saving the trouble of finding them on your own. These platforms also give tools to keep track of data, analyze how well things are going, and handle payments. This makes it easier for small businesses to see how their marketing is doing and make changes if needed.Now we live in an unstable world. Crisis situations can significantly impact businesses in your experience, what are some effective strategies or approaches to survive and get back on track during challenging times ? Can you share any specific examples from your own journey at Admitad ?Crisis situations indeed test a company's resilience. Admitad's approach involves maintaining a strong financial foundation, diversifying our partnerships, and agilely adapting to changing market conditions. For instance, during the economic downturn of 2020, we swiftly adjusted our strategies to focus on sectors that showed growth potential, which helped us navigate the challenging times successfully. We ensure protection against adverse effects on specific industries through our comprehensive diversification across various sectors, coupled with the continuous integration of innovative tools tailored to contemporary customer requirements. The ongoing surge in e-commerce further contributes to our favorable trajectory. Our strategy involves parallel investments in well-established economies such as the USA and Germany, alongside an assertive pursuit of market participation in emerging regions like India and LATAM. Simultaneously, we are strategically entering uncharted territories for the affiliate industry, exemplified by our focus on nascent markets like Indonesia, with the goal of securing pioneering positions.Being a top manager and a mother of an 11 year old boy, how do you manage to maintain a work-life balance ? What are some practical tips or strategies you can share with other professionals who struggle with balancing their personal and professional lives ?Balancing work and personal life is a challenge many professionals face. My approach involves setting clear boundaries, prioritizing tasks, and delegating responsibilities. Regularly scheduling quality time with my family and practicing self-care are crucial as well. It is important to remember that achieving work-life balance is an ongoing effort and may require adjustments over time.As a media contributor on performance marketing topics, what are some common misconceptions or misunderstandings that you often come across ? How do you aim to educate and inform your audience about the potential of performance marketing ?A common misconception is that performance marketing is solely about driving immediate sales. In reality, it is a comprehensive strategy that involves building long-term relationships with customers, enhancing brand loyalty, and optimizing various touch-points across the customer journey. My aim as a media contributor and a conference speaker is to educate the audience about these multifaceted aspects of performance marketing.You said that AI is part of Admitad's strategy, how exactly do you use AI in your business model ?We are currently engaged in the testing of an AI-driven fraud detection program. This initiative aims to identify violations of the network rules and restrictions as well as ensure transparency and traffic quality. We also implement AI technology in Admitad's Instant Payout forecast tool, which permits affiliate publishers to promptly access their earnings, eliminating the need to retain funds for extended periods. The machine learning model, boasting a remarkable 95% accuracy rate, has significantly simplified publisher payouts.What advice would you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs or professionals who aspire to reach leadership positions in the business world, particularly in the field of marketing and technology ?To aspiring women entrepreneurs in marketing and technology, my advice is to believe in yourself, embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, and seek out mentors who can guide you. Stay curious, continuously update your skills, and don't be afraid to take calculated risks. Remember, your unique perspective is an asset that can drive innovation and positive change in your chosen field.

Netflix announces documentary series on fastest athletes on earth

Netflix has announced the upcoming production of a groundbreaking sports documentary series titled "Chasing the Speed: World Sprinters." This series will provide an unprecedented glimpse into the lives of top sprinters from around the globe as they strive to become the fastest athletes on Earth."Chasing the Speed: World Sprinters" takes viewers on an exhilarating journey into the hearts and minds of elite athletes hailing from nations including the United States, Jamaica, the United Kingdom, Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Italy. This gripping six-episode series offers an exclusive behind-the-scenes exploration of the intense training, high-stakes competitions, and unyielding mental fortitude that define the world of professional sprinting. As these dedicated sprinters dedicate their lives to shaving off precious fractions of a second, they prepare to cross the finish line in record time, where victory and destiny await.Viewers can anticipate the premiere of "Chasing the Speed: World Sprinters" in the sizzling Summer of 2024. The series will consist of six exhilarating 45-minute episodes, each providing an in-depth and captivating look into the world of sprinting.The series is brought to life by the acclaimed production company Box to Box Films, known for its exceptional work on other sports documentaries such as "Full Swing," "Drive to Survive," and "Break Point.""Chasing the Speed: World Sprinters" boasts an impressive lineup of executive producers, including Paul Martin, James Gay-Rees, and Warren Smith of Box to Box Films. Their creative vision and commitment to authenticity promise to deliver a captivating and compelling narrative.World Athletics President Sebastian Coe expressed his enthusiasm for the series, stating: "We’re delighted that Netflix has chosen to turn a spotlight onto the lives of the fastest people on Earth. It takes a special talent, both physically and mentally, to succeed in a world where your fate is decided in just ten seconds. As Muhammad Ali said: 'The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.' The same applies to our athletes, and we can think of no better partner than Netflix to give our fans new insight into the fascinating high-intensity world of sprinters as they prepare to take their shot at glory at the World Championships."

ATA Football Joins Dazn, The 'Home Of Women's Football

DAZN Group, the world’s leading sports entertainment platform, has completed the acquisition of ata football. ata is a platform that brings together premium live and curated women’s football content and connects it to fans and players of the game from broadcast distribution through to direct engagement with the grassroots. DAZN’s commitment to, and investment in, women’s football is significant and strategic. From the ground-breaking partnership with YouTube to develop the UEFA Women’s Champions League, the creation of bespoke FAST channels, innovative distribution deals, and the transitioning of premium women’s football competitions into fully-fledged commercial propositions; DAZN has a vision and ambition for the sport that is unrivalled by any other major streamer or broadcaster. Bringing ata football into the DAZN family will significantly increase the visibility, growth and development of DAZN’s status as the ‘Home of Women’s Football’. Founders Esmeralda Negron and Hannah Brown have built a trusted and far-reaching network across the women’s football ecosystem from the professional game to the grassroots. Working with all the critical stakeholders in the growth of women’s football they are laying the foundations for exponential growth in the sport in terms of visibility, value and viability.   DAZN Group CEO Shay Segev said, “DAZN and ata football share the same view when it comes to women’s football, the strength of game lies in its participants, fans and distinct appeal. By harnessing these characteristics, we believe that DAZN can build on the foundations our investment in the women’s game has delivered so far."The progress that has been made in creating visibility for competitions like the UWCL, LigaF, Frauen Bundesliga amongst others, has seen value created in the whole ecosystem. More viewers, higher attendances and better sponsorship deals. With Esmeralda and Hannah joining the team at DAZN to establish a women’s sport business unit, we are confident that DAZN will keep setting the pace in this area of huge potential, as well as establishing even better and greater links with the communities that are driving the women’s game on to ever-increasing heights.”    ata football co-founders, Esmeralda Negron and Hannah Brown, said, “Three years ago we recognised there was significant opportunity for the growth in audience and engagement in the women’s professional game, and also the real near-term challenges to achieve that."Over a million young girls play grassroots football in the US alone and are largely unconnected to the professional women’s game. Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed the rise of women’s football in the storied clubs of Europe, significant investment, and development of leagues across all markets, exponential growth of national team football and advocacy across the landscape. Now is the time to build the product, partnerships, and experiences to fuel the women’s football ecosystem and become the global community for fans and players of the game.  “We would like to thank 777 Partners who invested in us from launch for their belief in our vision and absolute commitment to ata football. This acquisition by DAZN to combine our assets and capabilities presents an extraordinary opportunity to build a truly global women’s football business; we can’t wait to get going.”

SAS launches Air India’s new in-flight magazine

Strategic Advertising Solutions (SAS) Media, which had been the media representative for Air India’s new in-flight magazine in the GCC region, has released its in-flight magazine successfully.SAS Media had been appointed as the media and advertising representative for BurdaLuxury, an independent media house based across Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.The newly launched Air India’s in-flight magazine features JRD Tata, who is hailed as the father of Indian aviation, on its cover page. The 88-page magazine marks his birth anniversary. He founded the Air India airlines 90 years ago.The Indian airlines new magazine,, has been launched across all its domestic and international flights in the end of July. It replaces the airline’s previous bilingual magazine Shubh Yatra.The in-flight magazine would feature all about travel destinations, lifestyle, culinary arts, culture and showbiz, along with updates from Air India and the firm’s initiatives.The collaboration with SAS Media aims to provide Gulf-based brands and enterprises the opportunity to extend their reach to’s readership. Through the partnership, the magazine aims to cater to the large number of Indians who live in the GCC and frequently travel between India and their country of residence.According to India’s External Affairs Ministry, the number of non-resident Indians in the UAE stands at 3.41 million, followed by 2.59 million in Saudi Arabia, 1.02 million in Kuwait, 740,000 in Qatar, 770,000 in Oman, and 320,000 in Bahrain.

Starzplay launches web 3.0 sports game

This move precedes the upcoming Series A season and will be found solely on the Starzplay Sports platform.Players will now be able to partake in live match predictions and regional league analyses through the captivating realm of in-game arenas.Starzplay Fantasy Sports will give users prizes, which include in-game currency for buying NFTs and redeemable vouchers, subscriptions, Serie A and football-related merchandise, exclusive match tickets, and even in-person encounters with football luminaries. Commencing with the Supercoppa Italiana finals, users can anticipate a spectrum of prizes.??Notably, third-party sponsors will also extend prizes to players, thereby forging a fresh avenue for commercial engagement. This innovative approach presents advertisers with a distinctive route to connect with Web 3.0 platform-based online gaming and sports enthusiasts.Alessandro Masaro, the Chief Strategy Officer at Starzplay, remarked: Starzplay Fantasy Sports is the first of its kind blockchain service in the region, which will give customers a new dimension to engage with sports while competing to win incredible prizes. We believe this is the first step of a larger plan which will see the game expand into other leagues and sports in the near future.”This launch signifies a momentous leap in the realm of fantasy sports, leveraging the power of Web 3.0 and blockchain technologies. The platform boasts an array of content including Western programming, Arabic and Turkish shows, anime, and live sports broadcasts.

TCL Electronics announces new partnership with JD Group

Johannesburg: TCL Electronics, a global leader in consumer electronics, is excited to announce that a distribution partnership has been signed with JD Group – a leading retailer of electronic goods in South Africa.This collaboration marks a significant milestone as TCL's state-of-the-art televisions become available to more consumers at Incredible Connection and HiFiCorp stores across the country, offering South African consumers unparalleled access to the latest advancements in home entertainment.As the No. 1 Android TV and Google TV brand in the world and the world's No. 2 TV brand, TCL has consistently pushed the boundaries of technology, revolutionizing the way we experience television. Through this partnership with JD Group, TCL aims to make its cutting-edge TVs even more accessible to a wider audience, enhancing the entertainment experiences of households throughout South Africa."We are excited to join forces with JD Group and expand our presence in the vibrant South African market," Muhammed Ebrahim, Sales Manager at TCL South Africa says. "JD Group shares our passion for delivering top-tier technology and superior customer experiences. This collaboration will provide consumers with direct access to our latest range of televisions, showcasing our commitment to redefining home entertainment.”The availability of TCL TVs at both Incredible Connection and HiFiCorp stores coincides with TCL's latest product range launch, featuring innovative display technologies, enhanced audio capabilities, and seamless integration with smart home ecosystems. Consumers can expect an unparalleled visual and auditory experience that transforms their living rooms into immersive entertainment hubs."We are delighted to welcome TCL Electronics to the JD Tech stores and online platforms," says Stef Michael - Marketing Executive at JD Group. "TCL's reputation for innovation and quality aligns perfectly with our commitment to offering the best in consumer electronics. With TCL's impressive range of televisions now available in Incredible and HifiCorp stores and online, we are confident that our customers will be thrilled with the elevated home entertainment options.”TCL Electronics' partnership with JD Group is a testament to the brand's dedication to enriching lives through innovation. As the availability of TCL TVs expands across Incredible Connection and HiFiCorp stores, more South African households can enjoy the ultimate home entertainment experiences that only TCL can deliver.

The new Serie A season kicks off live on STARZPLAY Sports

Football is back this weekend on STARZPLAY Sports as the new Serie A season kicks off on Saturday August 19th. All 380 matches will be broadcast across two channels dedicated to the league, Abu Dhabi Sports 1 & 2 Premium which are exclusively on STARZPLAY Sports.The first match on the opening day of the 2023/24 season sees newly promoted Frosinone welcome last term’s champions Napoli at 8:30pm UAE, followed by the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League finalists Inter Milan at home to Monza at 10:45pm UAE. On Sunday, last season's UEFA Europa League finalists, Roma host Salernitana in the Stadio Olimpico at 8.30pm UAE then Udinese face Juventus at 10:45 UAE. AC Milan travel to Bologna on Monday at 10:45pm UAE rounding off the weekend’s action.Launched ahead of the new 2023/24 season, fans can now engage with the Serie A like never before with STARZPLAY Fantasy Sports. Players can make predictions around live Serie A matches, from forecasting scores and possession percentages to identifying the first goal scorer via in-game arenas, in order to win fantastic prizes.Serie A recently jumped to second in the updated UEFA League rankings for 2022-23. The combination of exciting football, incredible players, massive clubs, different title winners over the past four seasons and success in Europe including a team in each of the three UEFA finals has seen the rise of Serie A which is now ranked higher than La Liga and Bundesliga. The league is packed with star power players like Di Maria, Lautaro, Pogba, Dybala, Osimhen, Leao and Immobile.Serie A coverage includes some of the most popular commentators and analysts in the Arab world elevating the match day viewing experience. In celebration of the start of the season, STARZPLAY is offering SERIE A fans a 30% discount on the annual package. With thousands of hours of premium content including blockbuster movies, exclusive TV shows, kids’ content, Arabic series, as well as varied content via add-on channels, STARZPLAY is a leading video-on-demand subscription service in the MENA region. The service is available across 19 countries for fans to enjoy quality content anytime, anywhere, and from any device.

Publicis Groupe dominates New York’s AME Awards

Publicis Groupe, the biggest communication agency in the Middle East, has emerged as the top brand at this year’s AME Awards. Moreover, three UAE communication agencies, Publicis Groupe, Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi, have dominated this year’s famous New York’s AME Awards.  The AME Awards of New York celebrates the best in marketing and creative effectiveness worldwide. This includes the unique, brave and effective campaigns that achieve the essential mission of making the client’s products and services successful.Publicis Groupe has stood out as the only regional agency in Middle East to bag 20 awards at this year’s AME Awards. Of a total of 36 awards, the communication agency dominated the field by bagging 20 medals - three gold, six silver and 11 bronze – and becoming the ‘Most Awarded Company’.  Coming in close second position was Leo Burnett of Dubai, which bagged 17 medals, followed by Saatchi & Saatchi which won three medals. Bassel Kakish, CEO, Publicis Groupe Middle East & Turkey, said: “The work and the results speak for themselves. I am proud of this incredibly talented team, whose passion for creating impactful work in this region is raising the bar for creativity and excellence worldwide.” Tahaab Rais, Chief Strategy Officer at Publicis Groupe Middle East & Turkey, adds: “The best agencies win at both creative and effectiveness award shows. The AME Awards by New York Festivals have, for many years, been respected as a premium competition for creative and marketing effectiveness globally. It is not easy to win. And seeing our work win the most globally across a range of big brands, only from our region following the success at other shows for those same brands is a testament to the fact that we are making work that does work for our brand partners.”The AME Awards involve rigorous judging by industry experts worldwide. The competition’s structure includes regional rounds, providing a comprehensive evaluation of entries within their social, economic and cultural context.

Embracing 'dis-loyalty' to elevate patron experience

Have you ever considered the perks of being disloyal? Well, Ennismore, a subsidiary of Accor, the world's largest hotel group, has introduced an intriguing concept with their 'Dis-Loyalty' membership. Contrary to conventional loyalty programs, this innovative initiative encourages patrons to explore fresh dining and beverage venues, all while being rewarded for deviating from their usual choices.The 'Dis-Loyalty' membership centers around enhancing lifestyles by uniting over 75 hotels and 150 restaurants and bars across 10 globally acclaimed brands, including 25hours Hotels, Mama Shelter, The Hoxton, Mondrian, and SLS.Rather than adhering to the traditional loyalty model, this program takes a refreshing approach. There's no point accumulation, no tiers to ascend, and no waiting for rewards. Members instantly access benefits upon signing up through a dedicated online platform, free from complicated terms and blackout dates for hotel stays.This membership comes at a cost, but the array of advantages is enticing. From a 50% discount at select hotels to 10% off drinks and food at all bars, the perks are alluring. Additionally, a complimentary daily drink from the barista is bound to draw crowds.The marketing taglines further amplify the uniqueness of this program. Catchy phrases like "be loyal to your mom, not your hotel" and "if you love routine, get a dog" add an unconventional charm that resonates with potential patrons.For those who thrive on exploration, 'Dis-Loyalty' is a dream come true. With over 50 destinations and more than 15 openings slated for the upcoming year, the options are endless.Sharan Pasricha, Founder & Co-CEO of Ennismore, expressed his enthusiasm about this groundbreaking initiative, which melds beloved lifestyle brands within a seamless and captivating membership. The focus is on digital innovation and encouraging patrons to embrace the novel. 'Dis-Loyalty' invites brand enthusiasts to discover hotels, restaurants, and bars through a digitally immersive and editorial lens. This aligns with the overarching brand strategy, resulting in superior experiences and heightened direct bookings.While predicting the outcome of new ventures is challenging, one thing is certain: the allure of a "free barista coffee" will undoubtedly attract individuals from all walks of life.

Ski and Dubai Sports Council announce 14th edition of Ice Warrior Challenge

Dubai: The Ice Warrior Challenge is back for its 14th edition on Sunday, 24 September, organised by Ski Dubai in partnership with Dubai Sports Council. Early bird tickets have gone on sale for the endurance challenge, which will see the World’s Best Indoor Ski Resort transformed into a 3.5-km assault course complete with more than 20 obstacles including monkey bar swings, tyre runs, net crawls and the ice water pool.Since launching in 2010, the Ice Warrior Challenge has become one of the most popular events on the sporting calendar for adrenaline junkies, attracting elite athletes from around the world as well as locals and expats of varying fitness levels. Last year’s event was a huge success with more than 300 participants from 46 countries.Ice Warrior Challenge is open to males and females aged between 15 and 60. As in previous years, there will be an Individual category for participants of all fitness levels, and an Elite category for participants with high fitness levels who can complete the course in less than 25 minutes. The event also welcomes groups of five and is a great way to foster team bonding outside of the office or some friendly rivalry amongst your mates.Early bird tickets are priced at AED 210 for Individuals, AED 250 for Elite and AED 185 per person in the Teams category and are available until Friday, 25 August. Normal pricing resumes on 26 August.