Network International appoints Sandeep Chouhan

Network International (Network), the leading enabler of digital commerce across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, has announced the appointment of Sandeep Chouhan as Group Chief Business Transformation and Technology Officer.Bringing global experience in spearheading Business and Technology Transformations at some of the world’s leading financial institutions and payments businesses, Sandeep will be responsible for driving Network’s group-wide strategic transformation to accelerate business growth, operating efficiency and innovation in processing and acquiring products, as well as reducing time-to-market for banks, merchants and fintechs.A reputed figure in the global banking and payments industries, Sandeep most recently served as Group Chief Operating Officer of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB). He brings with him over thirty years of consumer banking and payments experience in business management, digital transformation, technology modernisation and agile operations. Sandeep has a track record of building and running technology, digital and operations at Citi, Discover Card, Barclays, Mashreq, CBQ and ADIB.“Sandeep’s experience as a Transformation and Technology expert of leading financial institutions and payments businesses will ensure that we accelerate product innovation and time-to-market for our customers, enabling them to achieve their goals,” commented Nandan Mer - Group CEO of Network International.Sandeep Chouhan – Group Chief Business Transformation and Technology Officer at Network International, added, “I am honoured to be joining the MEA region’s most prominent payments enabler, and absolutely thrilled to be spearheading innovation and strengthening our technology offerings to provide world-class digital services to our customers and create the next-generation payments ecosystem.

Trend Micro joins forces with SCCC Alibaba Cloud

Trend Micro, a global leader in cybersecurity solutions, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Saudi Cloud Computing Company (SCCC) Alibaba Cloud to protect the enterprises of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from the evolving threat landscape and to promote the localization of cybersecurity solutions in Saudi Arabia.During a special ceremony at the inauguration of Trend Micro’s MEA HQ in Riyadh, SCCC Alibaba Cloud’s Chief Executive Officer, Eng.Talal Albakr, and Trend Micro’s Area Vice President and Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa, Dr. Moataz Bin Ali, signed the agreement in the presence of His Excellency Haytham Alohali, Vice Minister, Ministry of Communications, and Information Technology.In 2022, Alibaba Cloud became the world’s first hyperscale cloud provider to enter the Saudi Arabian market, offering its services through Saudi Cloud Computing Company (SCCC). SCCC Alibaba Cloud and Trend Micro will collaborate to provide cutting edge solutions that benefit the customers of both companies. Together, they will share cybersecurity best practices, insights and explore opportunities for hosting Trend Micro’s innovative data lake in Saudi Arabia. The data lake will allow Trend Micro and its partners to offer advanced threat defense solutions from inside Saudi Arabia. The two organizations will also work together on the localization of cybersecurity solutions and practices across the kingdom.“SCCC Alibaba Cloud is committed to enhancing collaborations with partners in various markets to provide tailormade cloud solutions that will empower businesses across industries and help them to thrive in the digital age,” said Eng. Talal Albakr, Chief Executive Officer, SCCC Alibaba Cloud. “With the advent of technology and accelerated digital transformation, our partnership with Trend Micro will go a long way in supporting enterprises across Saudi Arabia in navigating the evolving threat landscape.”“Trend Micro is committed to protecting the digital transformation journeys of Saudi Arabia’s enterprises and communities,” said Dr. Moataz Bin Ali, Area Vice President and Managing Director, Trend Micro, Middle East and Africa. “Today we take another major step as we embark on a new journey of innovation and partnership with SCCC Alibaba Cloud. The threat actor is becoming more sophisticated by the moment, and we will do everything in our capacity to empower the kingdom’s organizations so that they can continue to thrive in the new digital era.”

Airbnb launches one-stop hub for remote workers in Dubai

 Airbnb today announced the launch of the Dubai remote working hub, a one-stop-shop for aspiring remote workers in partnership with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).Anyone looking to live and work in Dubai can now use the hub to find inspiration for local long-term listings as well as helpful information on entry requirements and visa policies.Earlier this year, Airbnb launched its Live and Work Anywhere initiative to identify some of the most remote worker-friendly destinations in the world. Dubai was selected as one of 20 destinations globally, alongside Canary Islands, Thailand and the Caribbean, among others.The Live and Work Anywhere programme will see Airbnb and Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism promote the city to remote workers seeking accommodation and guidance for their long-term stays.Velma Corcoran, Regional Lead for Middle East and Africa at Airbnb, said, “Dubai is a global leader in facilitating remote working. As this trend continues to accelerate, we want to work together to make it easier for people to enjoy the newfound flexibility to work and travel, and help the city harness the economic benefits of this new type of tourism.”Millions of people are now more flexible about where they live and work. About one in five guests globally reported using Airbnb to work remotely while travelling in 2021 — a trend that has continued into Q1 2022, with long-term stays at an all-time high, more than doubling in size from Q1 2019. In the first three months of 2022, searches for international solo travel in the United Arab Emirates for long-term stays also grew by over 280 percent compared to the same period in 2019. Dubai ranked among the world’s top 3 cities to live for executive nomads in the 2022 Savills Executive Nomad Index.Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said, "Dubai’s global connectivity and pro-business ecosystem combined with visa-friendly reform has underlined the city’s status as a leading hub for remote workers, building on Dubai’s commitment to nurture business growth and meeting the demands of today’s talent."The city is already home to over 200 nationalities that enjoy unrivalled career opportunities and lifestyle offerings. From world-class retail experiences, to Michelin-starred restaurants and local cuisine, sandy beaches, theme parks and a cultural scene second to none, Dubai is yet again ready to welcome the world, this time in collaboration with Airbnb."Airbnb recently published a guide for governments and destinations outlining recommendations for how communities can benefit economically from the rise in remote workers. Airbnb’s Guide to Live and Work Anywhere: How Communities Can Benefit from Remote Workers is based on Airbnb’s insights, data and experiences in partnering with 20 destinations that are embracing the potential of remote work, as well as a review of remote worker programmes worldwide.

Emerging trends expected to shape UAE’s cloud technology industry in 2023

As the cloud technology wave continues to sweep across industries regionally on the back of an ever-evolving digital-centric consumer base, players in the cloud computing space are racing towards adopting value-driven solutions in a bid to grow their market share.According to hybrid data cloud company Cloudera, this has resulted in a dramatic shift occasioned by emerging consumer preferences and trends shaping markets.In recognition that technology and innovation, especially in the cloud computing industry, remain pivotal to the growth and success of many organisations, Cloudera has reiterated the need to adopt and integrate emerging trends as part of the organisation’s digital strategy.“Cloud technology remains a top priority in every organisation because consumers have become tech-savvy and expect solution providers to lead by example. This has, in turn, led to an increase in the adoption of cloud technology for various applications, including data management. Therefore, organisations must keep an eye on new trends and innovations to help them deliver the right solutions across industries,” said Karim Azar, Regional Vice President of Middle East & Turkey.Hot on the heels of these disruptions and growing consumer expectations, the market has introduced newer products to fill emerging gaps.As the market prepares to usher in 2023, the industry should align its strategies with new trends and consumer preferences in the cloud technology space even as they plan to remain competitive in its respective strongholds; expect the development of the following trends:Adoption of the Multi-CloudThe mass adoption of cloud computing is a crucial driver of the most transformative technological trends. The industry is expected to witness multiple businesses leveraging cloud services to access newer, innovative technologies and build efficiencies in their operations and processes in the upcoming year.While 2022 has been a great year for Hybrid clouds, 2023 expects businesses to diversify their services across cloud portals. Adopting multi-cloud services enables organisations to expand their horizons regarding agility and security. Moreover, the multi-cloud technology prevents users from getting tied down to one cloud ecosystem.“Adopting hybrid and multi-cloud services provides several benefits in terms of flexibility, ease of use, and even cost savings,” Karim Azar, Regional Vice President – Middle East & Turkey at Cloudera. Sixty-nine per cent of business executives are convinced that their enterprises require a comprehensive data strategy to succeed. However, only 35 per cent believe that their current system sufficiently fulfils their requirements.Industry experts have cited the ability to manage seasonal demands, support special projects, and identify and organisation renegade workloads as some of the key reasons hybrid and multi-cloud services are necessary for businesses.Ability to manage seasonal demandsSupporting special projectsIdentification and organisation of renegade workloadsHigher Funding For Cloud Security & DurabilitySince businesses will be looking to adopt multiple cloud services for their data, security and longevity will be crucial. Although migrating across clouds exposes companies to myriad growth opportunities, it also significantly increases their vulnerability to cyber threats. Businesses will, therefore, need also to shore up their investment in tried-and-tested technologies to help them safeguard their data from any potential threats online.Upskilling for digital transformation success and business survivalThe global tech industry remains amidst a severe talent and skills shortage, impacting the ability of businesses to see through their digital transformation projects and endangering their survival.With a restricted pool of graduates with specialist data skills, having individuals with suitable skill sets is crucial. With AI and machine learning (ML) taking over everyday time-consuming tasks, employees can shift their focus onto complex tasks that require human intelligence.Going ahead, business investment in upskilling and reskilling programmes will be key to unlocking future growth and development. Complementary to this are prospects who are increasingly receptive to these programmes. Cloudera’s Limitless: The Positive Power of AI report found that most (80%) of knowledge workers were comfortable taking on new roles thanks to advances in AI/ML and data analytics, making their job easier.Digital Transformation to Save CostsInstigated by cost-cutting strategies, the priority for most businesses will likely be cost-efficient data security strategies. This includes increased use of Artificial Intelligence, and Predictive Technology crafted to identify potential security threats in advance. Finding opportunities for monetary savings offers the benefit of reducing costs, but more importantly, it enables a reallocation of budgets towards innovation projects.Substituting redundant data storage is a massive opportunity to reduce costs. Organisations can seek opportunities and evaluate cost savings using mergers. Solution providers can be challenged to demonstrate the most efficient solutions to optimise project deliveries and costs.As technological advancements grow, business leaders and employees will have more time to focus on complex tasks, enabling them to finish more in lesser time at better costs.

2021 Happiness@Work awards unveiled

Strategic sustainability and corporate responsibility think-tank in the Gulf and the MENA region, Sustainable Mindz, today unveiled the 2021 Happiness@Work awards, picking out the best innovative public and private sector companies in the region for their out-of-the-box and disruptive employee engagement and wellbeing policies, resulting in overall happiness at their respective workplaces.The fifth edition of the Happiness@Work awards have been announced across several categories, and the competition to be endorsed for their commitment to make happiness at workplaces a new normal, has attracted a phenomenal number of participants this year. The Happiness@Work Award is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the region and in the last five cycles, 62 organisations have received 75 awards.“We have been negotiating an extraordinary period of challenging times and despite the uphill context, some of these companies which have been awarded have shown tremendous amount of empathy to employees, which shows their commitment to creating happy work places irrespective of constraints. We believe they are the disruptors that have dedicatedly pursued engaging their employees with positivity with focus on their wellbeing,” said Sarju Mathew, Director, Sustainable Mindz.There were 35 nominations in this year’s cycle across categories, and after evaluation by a jury panel of experts, awards were declared across eight categories to companies that have shown exceptional dedication to happiness at workplace.Abu Dhabi Police from the public sector and Paramount Computer Systems were picked out for the Happiest Workplace Award.  Abu Dhabi Police and Paramount Computer Systems also won the Best Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Program Award. The Best Workers Welfare Program was given to Zain BH B.S.C, while Paramount Computer Systems and Watermark Events Solution LLP was honoured for its Best Workplace Wellness Program.“These organisations have placed their obligation of creating a happy workplace at the centre of their governance policies and they have indeed made a difference to the lives of their colleagues. In turn, they have paved a positive path for others to follow, to change and be changed,” said Dr Saamdu Chetri, Chair of Jury, Happiness@Work AwardThe Best Employee Engagement Program category awards went to Abu Dhabi Police, Festoon, Aafaq Islamic Finance and Barjeel, while Hitachi Energy bagged the Best Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Program.

DP World & Hassana Investment Company announce $2.4bln investment in UAE Assets

 DP World and the Saudi Arabia-based Hassana Investment Company (Hassana), the investment manager for the General Organisation for Social Insurance (GOSI) – which owns one of the world’s largest pension funds – announced today an investment of approximately US$2.4 billion (SAR9.0 billion) in three of DP World’s flagship UAE assets. This sale of a strategic minority stake in Jebel Ali Port, Jebel Ali Free Zone and National Industries Park, follows on the earlier transaction that successfully closed in June 2022.Hassana will invest approximately US$2.4 billion in a new joint venture with DP World through which it will hold its economic interest in a stake of approximately 10.2% in the three UAE assets. The investment by Hassana implies a total enterprise value of approximately US$23 billion for the three assets.[1] The Jebel Ali Port, Free Zone and National Industries Park together comprise a best-in-class group of infrastructure assets, with a solid long-term track record of growth. Combined, they form a world-class integrated ecosystem for the supply and logistics chains of over 9,000 companies from around the world, serving more than 3.5 billion people globally. The three assets generated pro-forma 2021 revenue of US$1.9 billion.After this investment, which closed on 19 December 2022, the three assets will remain fully consolidated businesses within the DP World Group, and their day-to-day operations, customers, service providers and employees will not be affected.Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, said: "We are delighted to announce this new partnership with Saudi Arabia-based Hassana, which manages one of the largest global pension funds. Hassana shares our long-term vision for the UAE assets, which have a long and sustained track record of growth and resilience. We believe this new partnership will serve to enhance our assets and allow us to capture the significant growth potential of the wider market. The transaction further strengthens our balance sheet, which, combined with the continued resilience of our business, diversity in our portfolio and focus on supply chain solutions, will support our target of achieving a strong investment-grade rating for the DP World group. Overall, we believe this partnership and transaction will drive sustainable value for all DP World stakeholders."  Saad bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadly, CEO of Hassana Investment Company, said: "We are excited to announce this new partnership with DP World and our investment in Jebel Ali, a world-class infrastructure asset with a solid long-term track record. This partnership highlights our focus and strategy to invest in critical infrastructure assets in the region that we believe will deliver long-term sustainable returns. Favourable demographics and macro-economic drivers and investment in transformational projects will continue to support growth momentum regionally, while trade between the emerging economies of Asia and Africa is also expected to thrive."

Dubai Chambers convenes with business groups and councils

Dubai Chambers has recently convened representatives of its business groups and councils to the fourth 2022 roundtable discussion aimed at fostering public-private sector cooperation to enhance Dubai’s favourable business environment.Held on a quarterly basis, the roundtable events provide group and council representatives with a platform to discuss timely business issues, proactively identify policy and legislative priorities, and drive collective advocacy impact to advance economic and business growth in Dubai.“Dubai Chambers is committed to protecting the interests of our members and meeting the changing needs of a dynamic business environment. We advocate to improve ease of doing business in Dubai, acting as a bridge between the emirate’s private sector and its forward-thinking government. The roundtable discussions with business groups and councils are valuable communication channels that help us identify and collectively address important policy matters that impact our business community in order to create a supportive, enabling, and innovation-based business environment,” said Maha AlGargawi, Executive Director of Business Advocacy at Dubai Chambers in her welcome remarks during the roundtable.Th event featured an overview of Dubai Chambers’ strategic priorities and the emirate’s economic outlook as well as updates on current and upcoming initiatives.During the event, Dubai Chambers presented results of the latest Dubai Quarterly Business Survey: Outlook, Impediments & Incentives, 2022, Q4.According to the survey, the overall majority of businesses in Dubai have better expectations for business conditions and sales. Sentiments on business confidence and business conditions have improved and are expected to positively impact private investment in Dubai. Companies are looking to increase digital adoption in all facets including advertisement (40%), digital payments (35%), e-commerce (25%) and digital marketing (31%).Dubai Chamber of Commerce, one of the three chambers operating under Dubai Chambers, announced this year plans to establish new country-specific business councils to expand economic cooperation and non-oil trade between Dubai business community and international markets of strategic importance across Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.In addition, Dubai Chamber of Commerce aims to increase the economic sectors and activities represented by business groups to 100 by March 2023. Business groups are policy advocates for their respective sectors that unify the voice of the business community and promote the private sector’s role in economic growth.

Almost 60% of Saudi Arabia consumers choose only digital money transfer

Consumers in Saudi Arabia predominantly view digital money transfers as the preferred way to send money now and in the future, according to research commissioned by Western Union. Yet many still want the power to choose between online and retail (in-person) experiences - depending on their convenience and needs. Exclusive insights show that today almost 60% of consumers who send money abroad prefer digital money-transfer services, compared to 22% who want choice, and 17% who send cash through retail channels only.The study, which surveyed over 1,500 money-sending and receiving citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia, asked how, when and why they move money internationally. The results bolster Western Union’s recently announced ‘Evolve 2025’ (E25) strategy combining high-value, accessible digital and retail financial services. The research also aligns to Western Union data, which has demonstrated strong customer preferences to move money digitally. In the first three quarters of 2022, the Company experienced double-digit year-on-year growth in the volume of digital transactions from Saudi Arabia.When asked about how international money transfers should be offered in the future, consumer opinion among senders is mixed. More (47%) still believe that the transfer experience should be digital from end-to-end, while 44% prefer choice and 9% would still opt for cash only. In reverse, 57% of consumers who receive transfers prefer a choice, while 24% favour going completely digital. Nineteen percent would still want to collect their funds in cash only. “Since launching their ambitious National Transformation Program – Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has made significant strides in achieving digital transformation,” said Jean Claude Farah, President of Middle East and Asia Pacific at Western Union. “The country’s visionary leaders have been steadfast in developing the necessary infrastructure to support this evolution. As a result, today it ranks seventh for its digital competitiveness among the G20, while internet penetration across the country sits at an impressive 98%. The study outcomes demonstrate that citizens and residents have been very much part of this journey – largely opting for online options over in-person experiences, as they benefit from the country’s increasingly advanced digital framework.”Receivers hold strong influence over frequency and flow of moneyThe research also shows that receivers of funds strongly influence how much and how often their senders transfer money. Overall, 34% of senders say their families or loved ones’ financial situation drives decisions on the frequency and flow of money. Sixty eight percent also say their receiver influences the company they choose to send money through, and 74% state their transfer method of choice (digital, retail or a mix) is dependent on how their receiver can collect the money.Looking at the broader macro-economic climate, a significant number of consumers expect to send (74%) or receive (66%) more money in the next 12 months. However, senders also struggle with a cost-of-living dichotomy: 73% of senders say that because cost-of-living has increased in their receiving country, they now need to send more money; yet 67% state that higher cost-of-living in their current country of residence, means they are not able to transfer as much as they did previously.“Providing a crucial link between senders and receivers helps consumers build a bridge to financial stability and opportunity,” Farah said. “As we adapt to higher costs-of-living, supporting consumers as they move up the economic ladder becomes even more important. The public and private sectors have a collective role to play here. If we collaborate effectively, we will be able to offer even stronger financial opportunities and experiences that will ultimately help them better manage their financial lives.”Women prioritize why they send cross-border money transfers differently to menThe study also shows that a greater number of women in Saudi Arabia send money transfers more often than once a month, compared to men. Nearly a quarter of the women surveyed (vs. 21% of men) say they move money multiple times within a month.Paying for family support is the primary reason why men move money (55%). While this is of utmost importance to many women as well (42%), women also place stronger emphasis on reasons such as paying for financial commitments, future savings and education payments. “Globally, women comprise slightly less than half of today’s expatriate workers,” Farah concluded. “They are more empowered than ever before, as they move internationally and shape global economies. In line with Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is focused on attracting the finest local and international minds to bolster economic development. Their ambition to increase women’s participation in the workforce to 30% by 2030 means that ensuring greater access to financial services is imperative, particularly with the rise of new technologies.”épolis-and-ithra-dubai-to-develop-10-screen-cineplex

Global brand Cinépolis and Ithra Dubai to develop 10-screen cineplex

Cinépolis Cinemas, the largest movie exhibitor in Latin America and the third largest in the world, has signed a Management Agreement with Ithra Dubai to partner in a 10-[AY1] screen cineplex, as part of the Deira Enrichment Project which will feature their family-friendly Junior concept, as well as an outdoor rooftop screen.Ithra Dubai, a fully-owned subsidiary of Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), provides strategic oversight by developing projects such as the Deira Enrichment Project in Deira, a place rich in culture and overflowing with history.Lachlan Gyde, Executive Director Asset Management for Ithra Dubai commented: “We are pleased to partner with Cinépolis and welcome their international and local experience which will further reinforce our core value of enriching the lives of people we serve. The Cinema will most certainly be a valued entertainment addition to this exciting emerging community, for residents and visitors alike.”The brand has a well-established footprint throughout the GCC, with theatres in Oman, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. In the UAE, Cinépolis opened its cineplex in Sharjah Oasis Mall in 2020. Cinépolis Deira, expected to open by first quarter 2024, will be the eleventh theatre to welcome visitors under the Cinépolis umbrella.Alejandro Aguilera, CEO of Cinépolis Cinemas, said: “Deira will be the first Cinépolis project in Dubai, a metropolitan hub in which we plan to expand our presence and bring our international expertise. Our goal is to offer the best cinema experience and continue to prioritize customer experience”.The cinema will house ten screens with state-of-the-art auditoriums and will feature the brand’s signature reclining Standard and Deluxe seats, which offer an exclusive luxury viewing experience and boast personal amenities and advanced storage solutions.Catering to the needs of younger cinemagoers, Cinépolis Junior will offer a jungle gym, bean bag seating, and 15-minute intermissions halfway through the film to allow children to take a break.An alternative to traditional screens is the outdoor rooftop, which will not only provide plush and comfortable seating with high-definition viewing, but will also provide access to breathtaking views of The Creek.Cinépolis Cinemas is known globally for its legendary popcorn and delectable hot food, which the brand will be rolling out to the new Deira project.Excellent service has always been at the core of Cinépolis, and customer convenience is something the brand has always prioritized. To make the cinema experience as simple and hassle-free, one service the brand will roll out is their contactless ordering, which allows all moviegoers to book and pay for their food and beverages from the comfort of their seats, using a customized QR code.

Nothing appoints Rishi Kishor Gupta as Business Lead the for Middle East

 London-based consumer technology company Nothing, announced today the appointment of Rishi Kishor Gupta as Business Lead for its Middle East operations.Rishi, a veteran in the consumer technology space with over 15 years’ of experience, will be responsible for driving growth in the highly-competitive market, and spearheading business development and operations for Nothing in the region. With his vast experience in retail and international consumer markets, Rishi was instrumental in establishing Huwai’s operation and spearheading its strategic growth in the Middle East.“2022 has been a milestone year for Nothing with the launch of our first smartphone, Phone (1), and reaching the one million products sold mark. As we are gearing up towards 2023, it is time for us to explore new markets” said Steven Gao, VP of Growth and Co-Founder of Nothing. “We are seeing a lot of opportunities in the Middle East and I am thrilled to welcome Rishi to the team as we are getting ready to accelerate our efforts there. With his proven track record and experience, he will play a pivotal role in our region’s growth.” "I am very excited to be part of Nothing’s journey. It has been very inspiring watching Carl and the team make such a breakthrough in the industry over the last two years,” said Rishi Kishor Gupta, as Business Lead, Nothing Middle East. “Phone (1) has been one of the most anticipated smartphone launches of the year and I look forward to working with local partners so that people in the Middle East can get their hands on it.”

Deloitte appoints Rashid Bashir CEO of Consulting in the Middle East

Rashid Bashir has been appointed the new CEO of the Consulting practice at Deloitte Middle East. He will start his new role on 1 January 2023, succeeding Tim Parr, who is set for retirement.Mutasem Dajani, CEO of Deloitte Middle East commented, “In the last five years, and under the leadership of Tim Parr, the consulting business has witnessed substantial growth in all areas including talent, client base and offerings. We are now market leaders in digital banking, investing in client centric facilities including a digital studio in Dubai and a digital center in Riyadh.” “Tim is succeeded by Rashid Bashir who will be leading our consulting practice as it enters a new and ambitious stage of growth. Rashid has played a critical role in delivering our strategy and serving the governments of the region, and I am confident he will bring his vision for the business, understanding of the market and his passion for our people and clients to his new leadership role,” added Dajani.Rashid will transition from his current role as Chief Strategy Officer and as lead partner for the Government and Public Services practice at Deloitte Middle East.Commenting on his appointment, Rashid Bashir said, “The creativity and innovation we offer will enable and drive forward the socio-economic transformation happening across the region. We aim to be the advisors of choice in the GCC market, and I am committed to bringing the best of Deloitte to the region.” “Against a backdrop of constant change – be it climate, technological or economic – governments and the private sector will continue to transform. Our ambition is to become the largest Consulting practice in the region, nurturing the national talent and serving our clients with distinction. My leadership team will include three women partners and 12 different nationalities, championing diversity and inclusion,” added Bashir.Rashid has been advising national governments in the GCC on socioeconomic transformations and will continue to advise on large-scale government projects across the region. He has substantial experience working on some of the most complex policy issues facing governments, including economic growth, job creation, education, innovation and entrepreneurship.Rashid holds an MBA in Strategy from Strathclyde Business School in Scotland and a Master of Philosophy in Economics from The University of Glasgow. Before moving to the Middle East 12 years ago, Rashid was a strategy consultant with Deloitte UK.

InMobi appoints Regional Business and Sales Leads

 InMobi, a leading provider of content, monetization, and marketing technologies, has announced the appointment of regional leaders for its newly expanded partnership with Microsoft Advertising in the Middle East and Africa. To build the momentum with the recently announced partnership, InMobi has appointed Jacob Joseph as the Business Head for Microsoft Advertising in Middle East and Africa while Priyanka Nambiar will be the sales lead for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets. They will support InMobi’s efforts to grow, retain, and enable strategic and enterprise advertisers in the UAE and wider region. In addition, Nilay Yucedag, Janette Hardman and Seun Methowe, are appointed as sales leads for Turkey, South Africa and West & East Africa.“The ramping up of the team in-market reinforces InMobi’s commitment to drive growth for Microsoft Advertising in the Middle East and Africa and will enable InMobi to better cater to customers through deeper connections, collaboration, and curated servicing across the several clusters within the region,” shared Rohit Dosi, VP and GM, Microsoft Advertising at InMobi.InMobi had recently announced the expansion of its partnership with Microsoft Advertising to lead the enterprise and strategic sales, account management, marketing, finance, collection, and billing across the Middle East and Africa.Talking about this development, Mike Luscombe, Senior Partner Sales Lead, Middle East, Africa, and Turkey at Microsoft Advertising, shared, “We are thrilled to welcome these extremely diverse and talented set of experts at InMobi to drive growth for Microsoft Advertising in the region. I look forward to working closely with each one of them and enhancing the value our clients derive from this partnership.”Welcoming the regional presence, InMobi client Vittorio Barraja, Senior Director – Biddable Media, PHD UAE said, “InMobi’s in-market presence is great news as we work to maximize impact for brands like HSBC by leveraging the Microsoft Advertising platform. The strategic approach, technology expertise, and deep knowledge brought by the InMobi team will be invaluable to advertisers in the region.”InMobi has already seen a strong uptick in the adoption of Microsoft Advertising offerings among over 50 key clients across the travel, retail, and finance, industries since the announcement of the partnership. In September 2022, Microsoft Advertising announced the availability of its offerings in over 30 new markets across the Middle East and Africa including UAE, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guinea, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Moldova, Namibia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Réunion, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Tajikistan, Tanzania, The Gambia, Togo, and Zimbabwe.In addition to English, the ads are now supported in Arabic, Hebrew, and Russian languages as well.InMobi <> Microsoft Advertising Lead ProfilesJacob Joseph, Business Head – Microsoft Advertising, Middle East and Africa, InMobiJacob Joseph is the Business Head for Microsoft Advertising in the Middle East and Africa at InMobi. He is a result-driven, persistent and analytical professional with over 11 years of experience in working across enterprise and startup organizations such as Zomato, Radio Mirchi, and InMobi. He relishes using his people management and interpersonal skills to connect with and build deep relationships within the technology and advertising community.Priyanka Nambiar, Sales lead – Microsoft Advertising, GCC region, InMobiA digital media enthusiast with over 8 years of experience in sales, Priyanka has explored several avenues ranging from display ads, native advertising, content (video and podcast), and co-branded activations with her previous employers at Manorama Online and Business Standard in Mumbai and Khaleej Times in the UAE.

COFE App signs agreement with Saudi Coffee Company

COFE App, the premier online coffee marketplace recently announced the signing of an agreement with the Saudi Coffee Company (SCC). As per the agreement, COFE App will be the premium online partner for SCC supporting them in amplifying their reach to coffee lovers in the Kingdom and beyond. This strategic partnership between COFE and SCC is aimed at propelling the Saudi coffee industry into the digital era, consequently empowering local producers to connect with end users with greater ease and convenience.The partnership between COFE App and SCC is set to propel the coffee e-commerce sector further, making Saudi grown beans available to coffee lovers through COFE’s mobile app. Both companies are united in the purpose to transmit technology and knowledge to the Kingdom in a number of areas, including coffee production, roasting, marketing, and sales, as well as all other activities, in order to promote the Kingdom as a frontrunner in the sector.Commenting on the agreement, COFE App Founder & CEO, Ali Al Ebrahim expressed: “It is a proud moment for us at COFE to be working with SCC. We hope that this partnership will help in giving Saudi coffee the visibility and reach that it truly deserves. Through our work in Saudi, we hope to take this integral part of our culture and tradition to the world. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in making this possible. It is truly the beginning of something great.”The platform has seen wide-spread acceptance from users in the Kingdom and was listed as the Top 10 Most Downloaded Food Delivery and Restaurant Apps (2021) in the kingdom in a survey conducted by Communication & Information Technology Commission (CITC) of Saudi Arabia.SCC is a Public Investment Fund (PIF) company launched by the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia with a mandate to develop the Saudi coffee industry. SCC plans to invest over SAR 1.2 billion ($319 million) in the national coffee sector over the next ten years to increase annual output from 300 tons today to more than 2,500 tons by 2030. Saudi’s domestic coffee market was estimated to be worth $1.96 billion in 2021, and is expected to grow to $2.78 billion by 2025.“It is a pleasure to be partnering with COFE App. Their passion for the cumulative growth of the coffee industry is very evident, and we are happy to say that they share both our vision and values. Coffee is a very integral part of Arabian culture and we wish for the world to witness it through our efforts. We hope that this partnership is the beginning of coffee lovers discovering the nuances of Saudi coffee and how it is ready to compete with some of the best producers in the world,” said Mohammed Zainy, Marketing Director of Saudi Coffee Company.As KSA transforms into a digital growing economy with a focus on locally grown coffee beans this might just be the next big thing in the evolution of the global coffee market.

The grand opening of the ftNFT shop, on December 22nd, in Dubai

SoftConstruct is an international tech giant that holds over 8 brands offering IT solutions to various industries, with over 300 partners and over 16 offices worldwide. As such, they had a vision to delve into the virtual and create ftNFT, a unique NFT Marketplace operating under the Fastex ecosystem – which in itself also includes Fastex Exchange, FastexVerse, Fastex Pay, Fastex Chain, FastToken and FirstTicket. Now, ftNFT is a concept that is meant to bring together all NFT and Crypto enthusiasts to a platform where they can interact with and experience these innovative services in a whole new way.People have started to pick up on all the noise surrounding this opening. The ftNFT shop has been turning heads and getting lots of attention and with good reason. The services it strives to bring forward have never been done in a physical form before, such as the ability to browse, buy and sell NFTs in person. Visitors can also interact with and look through a unique variety of physical art and even create 3D avatars of themselves through a professional 3D Scanner.When attending the grand opening, guests will have a special opportunity to meet NFT artists and exhibitors in person and to learn about their work firsthand. Among the attendees will be Amrita Sethi, the first NFT artist in the UAE and one that has created an original style of bringing art to life and vice versa through Voice Note Art. We will also see a wide collection of AKNEYE, a number of hand painted and unique eye sculptures, alongside the exclusive art toys by Chiko & Roko, all exhibited within the shop.Together, this creates a fully immersive virtual and personal experience within the shop. The establishment of ftNFT Shop brings forward a new era of virtual-to-reality integration and interaction in our world. It opens up new roads to endless new avenues for virtual exploration and allows interaction with NFTs and the Metaverse like never before. The special pass required to take part in the grand opening has been created in the form of a free NFT that a visitor can claim in order to gain entry to the grand event.Everything established by the ftNFT Marketplace has been with the intent to bring forward creative and bright ideas, and allow people to monetize their art while being able to trade with other collections. The first ftNFT Shop will be opened in the Mall of the Emirates, and the second will soon follow in Dubai Mall. By bringing these possibilities to two of the most luxurious shopping centres in the UAE, we make it possible for anyone to come in, learn more about the marketplace and take part however they like.The opening of the first ftNFT shop in the Mall of the Emirates is coming up on the 22nd of December. It’s beginning to excite all enthusiasts and inquisitive minds alike. Soon, we will be able to unveil the project and make the world of NFTs available to everyone.

Forcepoint appoints sales leaders to advance global growth of data-first SASE

Global security leader Forcepoint today announced the appointment of three sales leaders in response to global market demand for Data-first SASE security. The company has promoted Myles Bray to Chief Revenue Officer and Thierry Bedos as Senior Vice President of EMEA Sales. It also appointed James McCarthy as Senior Vice President of North America Sales.The security industry continues to shift from teams managing multitudes of point products to a converged SASE platform that reduces the security management burden, risk and costs to businesses of every size. The company has made significant investments the last two years to accelerate its converged security platform offering, and Forcepoint is the only security company today delivering single-vendor Data-first SASE. Today’s appointments further build on the company’s commitment to help transform the industry by simplifying security.In his new role as CRO, Bray has the core mission of enabling businesses to simplify their approach to security, building on Forcepoint’s leadership as a single-vendor provider of SASE. He will report to CEO Manny Rivelo. As the new executive sales leaders for EMEA and North America, respectively, Bedos and McCarthy will report to Bray.“We are truly moving into the next phase of security where it becomes both a business accelerator and competitive differentiator. Companies need to streamline and simplify operations, including their approach to security, to compete and thrive amidst a recession. The converged capabilities of a single-vendor SASE platform present a compelling opportunity to provide more control and agility in how organizations secure their business and critical data anywhere it can be accessed,” said Manny Rivelo, CEO of Forcepoint.Rivelo continued, “I am bullish on Forcepoint’s SASE market opportunity heading into 2023, and we are deepening the collective strength of our global sales leadership for this exact moment in the industry. Myles, Thierry and James are outstanding leaders who have made significant contributions in their respective roles as security sales leaders for more than a decade. With this team, Forcepoint will be a force multiplier in the SASE global market in 2023 and beyond.”Myles Bray joined Forcepoint in May 2021 as Senior Vice President of EMEA Sales. In that time, he was pivotal in taking to the EMEA market Forcepoint ONE, the company’s all-in-one cloud platform for Security Service Edge (SSE), the security half of SASE. Forcepoint ONE sales have consistently grown exponentially quarter-over-quarter since its Q1 2022 launch. Previously, Bray held executive roles leading sales and channel strategy across Europe, the Middle East and Africa for security companies such as Arqit, F5 Networks and Forescout.“Businesses trying to control access to data and systems are contending with their workforces using more apps and devices than ever, which translates into more complexity. The demand for simplicity is driving adoption of security convergence, with 8 out of 10 organizations expected to deploy a consolidated SSE platform, within the next three years,” said Bray. “I look forward to the strategic contributions both Thierry and James will bring to exponentially grow Forcepoint’s Data-first SASE business and partner with customers and the channel across our key territories in the next year and beyond.”Thierry Bedos joined Forcepoint in April 2022 as Vice President for Southern Europe. During his tenure, Bedos’ hands-on leadership style, customer-first mindset and strategic channel partner relationships helped Southern Europe continue to be one of the most successful regions in EMEA. Prior to Forcepoint, Bedos held senior sales leadership roles at Proofpoint, SAS and McAfee, where he was Managing Director of the company in France for nine years. James McCarthy brings over 25 years of sales leadership experience to his role as Senior Vice President of North America Sales. Prior to Forcepoint, McCarthy served as the first Head of Sales for Tel Aviv-based tech start-up Cyera. He has also held senior sales leadership roles at companies such as global communications leader BT, IBM Internet Security Systems, and Digital Guardian.

Callsign predicts 2023 will be another year of rampant fraud

Callsign, the pioneer in digital trust, has predicted 2023 will be another year of fraud with emerging ‘new’ fraud vectors causing a further erosion of digital trust in banks, telecoms, social media, ecommerce platforms and other digital providers.Looking forward to 2023 and based on customer interactions and conversations with security experts in both the public and private sectors around the world, Callsign predicts the following:Prediction One: Dormant account takeovers become mule accountsDormant accounts occur when consumers do not access or close their online accounts for an extended period of time. These dormant accounts are exactly what fraudsters seek to utilize to launder funds obtained through unlawful activities.These dormant accounts are then used for illegal purposes by recruiting mules through deceptive social media posts and adverts, phishing, and easy money scams.“Fraudsters manipulate mules by asking them to receive money and make purchases or send funds to other accounts. Bank accounts that suddenly switch from being inactive to active do raise red flags, but it is the account holder who will be punished if caught rather than the perpetrator in most cases. We predict 2023 will see a sharp rise in dormant account takeovers by fraudsters using mules,” said Chris Stephens, Solutions Engineering, Callsign.Prediction Two: The rise of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) fraudThe Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) model has become increasingly popular in the Middle East.Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) companies around the region share similar characteristics, such as offering convenience, interest-free payments, encouraging purchases, flexible repayments, and quick account opening approval. Nonetheless, they are all vulnerable to fraud in the retail sector.“In the race to attract customers and win market share, some BNPL companies have forgone standard security protocols to the extent that crypto exchanges have better controls as a whole. We predict 2023 will begin to see BNPL exposed to friendly and refund frauds, accounts opened with stolen credentials, bot attacks and more,” said Stephens.Prediction Three: Deep fake technology growthScammers are already using Deep Fake technology to convince consumers to buy products through impersonation, visual identification, and other means.“Sadly, we predict deep fake technology fraud will escalate partly because there are few tools on the market that can identify, counter, and stop these frauds. The technology is rapidly evolving, and the prediction is that it will be used to defraud the public on a scale similar to other sophisticated frauds.”Prediction Four: Enter player 2 with the dodgy identity in the MetaverseWeb 3.0's seamless connectivity across platforms, hardware, and networks has the potential to enable people to connect, collaborate, and interact for learning, socializing, and conducting business in the metaverse. Unfortunately, it has all the potential to mirror the current online world, which is rife with fraud and fakes."Everything wrong from a security perspective with social platforms today will be considerably worse in the metaverse of tomorrow. If the metaverse is open to all in one giant decentralized world, how are people going to be protected from digital compromise?”Prediction Five: New cycle of victimsDespite fraudsters running rampant across all industries with a large scam playbook, 2023 will see a new population of people who have never fallen victim to fraud before. These could be people moving into environments where security is lax or those who are the subject of sophisticated and personalized attacks.“According to Callsign’s Digital Trust report, consumers in the MEA region have higher levels of digital trust than in other regions. If we are to see a more positive outlook in 2024, much more needs to be done to protect consumers by the public and private sector,” concluded Stephens.

Dubai Chambers connects Canadian Food and Beverage Trade Mission to local market

Dubai Chambers has hosted a Canadian food and beverage trade mission for a B2B business matching event at its headquarters in Dubai. The event aimed at connecting Canadian food and beverage companies, with representatives from Dubai’s food and beverage industry. In attendance were Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President & CEO of Dubai Chambers, and H.E. Radha Krishna Panday, Ambassador of Canada to the UAE.A total of 195 business matching meetings were conducted with Dubai stakeholders and companies, providing the Canadian trade mission with opportunities to cooperate and create partnerships that unlock the potential of the food and beverage sector.“Canada has long been a strategic trade partner for the UAE and Dubai Chambers’ role is to connect Dubai and Canadian markets, bringing together relevant parties to facilitate events and meetings to further strengthen bilateral trade and commercial relationships. F&B is a major, profitable business industry in Dubai and foodservice, in particular, is receiving growing interest amongst investors. Therefore, we are bringing together Canadian and Dubai companies to explore and capture the opportunities emerging from this important sector. Growing trade relations with Canada will advance mutual business opportunities in the food and beverage sector as well as support the UAE’s food security ambitions,” said Lootah.Echoing similar sentiments, Radha Krishna Panday, Ambassador of Canada to the UAE, added, “Dubai Chambers is a long-standing and trusted partner for Canada. Together, we have strengthened the business ties between our countries, and we are always looking for opportunities to move the relationship forward. We are grateful to Dubai Chambers for welcoming our food and beverage delegation from Canada this week, and for hosting a successful business-to-business program.”In recent years, the UAE government has significantly increased its focus on food security, as it aims to ensure that the economy remains competitive and fully prepared to meet future challenges for the next 50 years.UAE consumer foodservice sales value reached AED44.5 billion in 2021, an increase by 16.4% compared to 2020, according to Euromonitor. By 2026, UAE consumer foodservice outlets sales are expected to reach AED55 billion and grow with a CAGR of 4.3%. Under the UAE National Food Security Strategy 2051, the country is developing international partnerships to diversify food sources, enhancing local food production with advanced technologies, and adopting legislation and policies to reduce food waste. The strategy offers investors the certainty and policy stability required to pursue long-term opportunities in the sector.Through business matching programs and other collaborative initiatives, Dubai Chambers provides both Dubai and Canadian businesses the unique opportunity to cooperate and create partnerships that unlock the potential of the food and beverage sector to enable further mutual economic growth and expand trade opportunities between the two countries.

Dubai’s Sukoon signs deal to acquire majority stake in Ascana

Dubai-listed Sukoon, formerly known as Oman Insurance Company, confirmed on Tuesday its plans to acquire a significant stake in Arabian Insurance Company – Takaful – Ascana Insurance. The company said it has signed a share purchase agreement to acquire a majority stake in excess of 93%. The deal was signed with the shareholders representing the stake and is still subject to regulatory approvals. However, in a separate statement, Ascana clarified that it’s not a party to the transaction. Sukoon said the acquisition is in line with its strategy to diversify its sources of business and consolidating its UAE and GCC presence, allowing it to enter the takaful or Islamic insurance market. The company said it will submit an offer to the remaining shareholders of Ascana, giving them the option to sell their shares to Sukoon or to remain as a shareholder in Ascana. “The takaful market is an important and growing one. We are very pleased with this transaction that will not only strengthen our market position but will also broaden our ability to meet more customer’s needs,” said Jean-Louis Laurent Josi, CEO of Sukoon. “With this transaction, we are also capitalising Ascana’s deep expertise in the takaful market. Our objective will be to ensure that Ascana could leverage as much as possible our own capabilities, notably in terms of underwriting and digital, to increase its customer reach and further improve their customer experience.” Ascana’s statement said the transaction remains subject to regulatory approvals from the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) and the UAE Central Bank. “As of the current date, Ascana has not been approached in respect of this transaction or in respect of an offer to the entirety of the shareholders,” the statement said.

TECOM Group breaks ground on specialised tech offices at Dubai Internet City

TECOM Group PJSC, (the “Company” or the “Group”), has broken ground on the Innovation Hub Phase 2 in Dubai Internet City, as Dubai’s legislative framework and ease of doing business attract a high volume of international companies and investors. The Group is expanding its leasing portfolio to capture the increasing demand in Dubai’s commercial real estate market underpinned by the emirate’s economic development and the government’s pro-growth strategies.The AED442 million new investment underscores TECOM Group’s commitment to expanding and tailoring its portfolio to emerging sector needs and attracting global companies. It will offer customers high-quality commercial office properties, state-of-the-art office spaces and HQs tailored to customer specifications.Abdulla Belhoul, Chief Executive Officer of TECOM Group, said: “TECOM Group remains a pillar for Dubai’s business hub proposition. New regulatory frameworks and the ease of doing business are accelerating economic growth and reinforcing investor and business confidence. We’re seeing the success of our leadership’s economic diversification strategy reflected in our commercial and industrial real estate portfolio performance this year due to an influx of new companies and talent.“Across our portfolio, existing customers are expanding their operations, complemented by an inflow of new foreign investment. Bespoke solutions like the Innovation Hub address the need for high-quality commercial spaces, helping strengthen Dubai’s position as an attractive global business and talent hub. It also cements TECOM Group as the emirate’s largest commercial real estate owner and our key role in driving innovation and business growth development in Dubai.”TECOM Group’s Q3 2022 financial performance reflected the upward trend in the commercial real estate market. Revenue came in at AED 490 million, increasing 12.48% year on year (YoY), driven by rising occupancy levels across the portfolio, especially office, warehouse, and worker accommodation.The Innovation Hub Phase 2 expands TECOM Group’s assets with two high-end office buildings, four boutique offices, retail spaces and more than 800 parking spaces. To be completed by 2024, the Innovation Hub Phase 2 will provide more than 355,000 square feet of gross leasable area (GLA).Launched in 2018, the first phase of the Innovation Hub is almost at full capacity, providing tech giants like Google, Hewlett-Packard, Gartner and China Telecom a base in the region. With additional stages in the pipeline, the completed Innovation Hub project is expected to add more than 1.2 million square feet of space for technology, education and new media businesses of all sizes to the Group’s portfolio.TECOM Group has cultivated a global business and technology hub under Dubai Internet City. Today, it represents a complete community of Fortune 500 companies, SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs. Recent additions include Motorola Solutions and Intel, while longstanding customers 3M, Visa and Meta upgraded to new headquarters this past year. Dubai Internet City also features over 15 innovation centres powered by customers like Visa, MasterCard, SAP, Google and 3M, which are promoting digital transformation region-wide.Commenting on behalf of Dubai Internet City, Ammar Al Malik, Executive Vice President – Commercial Leasing, TECOM Group PJSC, said: “Dubai’s pursuit of a knowledge and innovation economy relies on a robust technology framework. For more than 20 years, Dubai Internet City has provided the necessary infrastructure and environment where the complete tech community can converge. Ready-to-use facilities like our Innovation Hub enable customers to hit the ground running. Expanding our district’s commercial offering to cater to the Emirate’s growing business appetite will enrich our global community with innovation-driven brands and talent.”According to the CORE Dubai Market Report Q3 2022, the Emirate is seeing growth in new licenses and residents, boosting demand in the commercial leasing sector. The report also found that citywide office occupancy levels are the highest since the peak in 2014, up to 83% in Q3 compared to 78% last year.

Cisco identifies key technology predictions and trends for 2023

 In 2023, the economic climate will continue to be shaped by reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Many companies are therefore looking to the future for innovative technologies that can help here. Today, Cisco outlines the seven technology trends for 2023 in the areas of security, increasing network efficiency, sustainability, and AI.Reem Asaad, Vice President, Cisco Middle East and Africa said: “The dominant theme throughout these trends is the pace of technological evolution that is continuing to accelerate. These technology trends are on the rise in our region and are shaping the future of every business across all industries, driven by ambitious national visions that are putting technology at the heart of governments’ initiatives in the Middle East and Africa. Today we are at the intersection of a vast potential such technologies hold, and the challenges that should be mitigated through robust security measures.” “One of the key highlights we’re witnessing today more than ever is that businesses need to consider the social context of their actions. Increasingly, we see a focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) in the region. Whilst we realize that achieving sustainability is complex and multifaceted, what’s certain is that technology continues to play a pivotal role in driving ESG agendas for governments and enterprises,” she added. Sustainability and AISustainabilityNet Zero will drive common standards to meet sustainability goals with advancements in Power Over Ethernet (PoE) design and hardware to transform data centers for a more sustainable future. Networking and APIs will become more advanced within data center platform management to monitor, track, and change the use of energy. IT vendors and equipment partners will be more transparent in their reuse of hardware (circularity) to move the needle with the sustainability processes.Responsible AI In 2023, we will see multiple, highly publicized instances of artificial intelligence used by some individuals and organizations to achieve unethical and socially destructive objectives. Industry, governments, academia, and NGOs will come together to begin hammering out a framework for governing AI in an ethical and responsible manner to mitigate potential harm. This framework will be based on principles such as Transparency, Fairness, Accountability, Privacy, Security, and Reliability and will ultimately be applied to model creation and the selection of training data as defining principles of AI systems.IT Security TrendsQuantum CryptographyTransmitting keys is a fundamental risk to security, as they can be harvested and decrypted later. Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is poised to be particularly impactful because it avoids any distribution of the keys over an insecure channel. In 2023, in preparation for a post-quantum world, we will see a macrotrend emerge with adoption of QKD in datacenters, IoT, autonomous systems, and 6G.Application and API SecurityAs modern cloud-native applications are becoming drivers of business, protecting the underlying application environment is critical. In 2023, developers will get more and more support from various development tools that speed up development cycles and allow them to manage and secure distributed application architectures with an emphasis on delivering exceptional, secure digital experiences. We will also see continued movement toward tools that allow security experts to collaborate seamlessly on these outcomes.Business Efficiency and ResilienceOptimizing Multi-cloud ArchitecturesAs deglobalization and issues around data sovereignty accelerate, in the year ahead we will see a noticeable shift in how companies leverage multi-cloud architectures. While 89% of enterprises are adopting a multi-cloud strategy for a variety of reasons (geopolitical, technical, provider diversification), the benefits come additional complexity in connecting, securing, and observing a multi-cloud environment. We will see a big move toward new multi-cloud frameworks such as Sovereign Clouds, Local Zone Clouds, Zero-Carbon Clouds, and other novel cloud offerings. This will create a path toward more private and edge cloud applications and services ushering in a new multi-cloud operating model.Full-Stack Observability tied to Business OutcomesThe problem with monitoring has always been too much data with too little context and business correlation. The evolution of application monitoring toward full stack observability will increasingly provide a view relative to business context. When applied systematically, this will drastically speed up response and optimize business operations in real time. In 2023, business context will become widely recognized as an integral part of monitoring and visibility outcomes.Internet of Things (IoT) makes supply chains more resilient??Enterprises and logistics providers will increasingly utilize IoT to bring full visibility into their supply chains in 2023. IoT and other technologies will not only play a larger role in bringing resiliency and efficiency into supply chains but will also improve cybersecurity and IT/OT network management. As a result, enterprises and logistics providers will reconfigure supply chains around predictive and prescriptive models including smart contracts and distributed ledgers. This is a major transition toward more sustainable business practices and circular supply chains.

Banking, realty sectors continue to drive UAE financial markets

Abu Dhabi main index edged 1.566% higher Monday, supported by First Abu Dhabi Bank (NBAD) gaining 1.520%, to close AED17.360. ADQ, under the brand known as Asmak, continues to break records, closing 0.390% higher at AED410.Dubai's main share index followed suit and rose 0.335%, led by a 1.880 % gain by property blue chip Emaar, which closed at AED5.950, 1.880% up on yesterday's session.

'World’s Coolest Winter' campaign launches new website

 The World’s Coolest Winter” campaign, which is carried out by UAE Government Media Office in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and the entities concerned with tourism, culture and heritage in the country, has launched its new website.The website offers users an interactive experience as it provides information about the most important tourist attractions in each Emirate in both Arabic and English languages.The new website ( comes as a part of the efforts aiming at further supporting domestic tourism and outbound tourism to attract tourists from all over the world.The third edition of the campaign adopts the theme "Our Heritage" in favor of highlighting the rich Emirati values and culture and its distinct features that include hospitality, tolerance and solidarity.The website lists the most famous local souks including the Friday Market and Al Bahar souk in Fujeirah, and the Gold souk.The campaign’s website provides a map of the famous cycling paths in the country, as well as a number of UAE islands, which are considered among the most beautiful tourist destinations for visitors and tourists, in addition to a guide for places that allow caravan camping and its requirements.The website also presents a number of locations called the “Hidden Gems of the UAE”, such as the Hatta secret pool that was named by this name as a result of its location between the high rocky mountains, which makes it a hidden place that individuals can reach only after walking through the mountains. Visitors can sit near the pools, relax, swim, or enjoy fishing.The campaign’s website also highlights the most famous hiking paths in the country and a number of places that offer unique and fun activities for children.

19 newcomers join Forbes Middle East's Top 50 most-funded startups 2022

 Forbes Middle East has released its annual list of MENA's Top 50 Most-Funded Startups, celebrating the mission-driven young businesses attracting investor attention. Combined, the 50 startups on the 2022 list have raised $3.2 billion in funding, up from $3 billion in 2021.The startups had to have been founded no earlier than 2015 and have raised a minimum of $20 million in total funding to be considered for the list. Startups that were acquired, merged, went public on stock markets, or didn't provide sufficient data on funding and investors, were excluded. Cut off for funding was November 10, 2022.Agri-tech business Pure Harvest Smart Farms climbed from second place in 2021 to secure the top spot this year, having raised $387 million in total funding. In June 2022, the U.A.E.-based startup formed an alliance with Al Dahra Group, increasing the total operating capacity under its management to over 22 hectares. Buy-now-pay-later Fintechs Tabby and Tamara retained their top five positions at second ($275 million) and third place ($216 million), respectively.Fintech companies dominated the funding landscape in 2022, with 21 listees attracting $1.3 billion in total funding. E-commerce (10) and delivery and mobility (four) made up the remaining top three most-populated sectors, raising $576.7 million and $299.6 million, respectively.The startups on the 2022 list represent nine MENA countries. For the third consecutive year, the U.A.E. reigned as the country with the most active startup ecosystem, with 18 startups raising $964 million in total funding. Saudi Arabia is home to 12 startups raising $946.7 million, while 11 startups are headquartered in Egypt, raising $508.5 million.The ranking features 112 cofounders. Only 10 startups are led by solo founders. Noureddine Tayebi is one member of this minority. His ride-hailing, delivery, and payment platform Yassir ranked fifth after becoming the most-funded startup in North Africa with $193.25 million in total funding.Of the 50 startups, 19 are newcomers to the ranking. One newcomer penetrated the top 10—regulated crypto-asset exchange Rain Management. The Bahrain-headquartered startup ranked sixth after raking in $118 million. Beyond securing millions in capital, many new entrants also cemented valuable partnerships, future-proofing their offerings in the market. For example, Egyptian digital payment solutions platform PaySky partnered with Visa to launch the Yalla Card and Yalla Super App in the Middle East. Meanwhile, proptech Huspy acquired three brokerages on its home turf of the U.A.E.: Home Matters, Just Mortgages, and Finance Lab.Click here to view the full ranking of the Top 50 Most-Funded Startups In MENA 2022.Top 5 Most-Funded Startups In MENA 20221 Pure Harvest Smart FarmsTotal funding: $387 millionHeadquarters: UAE.Established in: 20172 TabbyTotal funding: $275 millionHeadquarters: Saudi Arabia, U.A.E.Established in: 20193 TamaraTotal funding: $216 millionHeadquarters: Saudi ArabiaEstablished in: 20204 TruKKerTotal funding: $203 millionHeadquarters: Saudi ArabiaEstablished in: 20165 YassirTotal funding: $193.25 millionHeadquarters: Algeria, Tunisia, MoroccoEstablished in: 2017

5,000 visitors attended Sharjah Entrepreneurial Festival so far

As things came to a close at the most successful Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival to date, this 6th edition of the two-day extravaganza, created and organised by Sheerah, attracted over 5,000 visitors, future business leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs to Sharjah Technology and Innovation Research Park (STIRP) this past weekend.It was clear to see the lasting effect that was made this year at SEF 2022 as the energy at the Impact Stage was palpable as a large crowd gathered to witness the closing speech from Sheerah CEO, Najla Al Midfa, as well as the highly anticipated awards ceremony honouring standout entrepreneurs and winners of this year’s SEF Hackathon.The festival has continued to grow from strength to strength and has doubled the amount of speakers at talks and discussions since last year, going from 70 speakers to almost 140 speakers this year, providing visiting entrepreneurs knowledge and insight that could literally have a hand in their future success.Al Midfa congratulated everybody that attended SEF for making it such a successful festival and reminded everyone that they were the real focus, to always stay determined and keep going, saying “We are always on the verge of our greatest adventure”.After the closing speech the MCs prepared the audience to hear the winners of the SEF Hackathon, powered by ICT Fund, to a great applause, and called Engineer, Mohammad Al Hajri, to the stage to present the awards, on behalf of ICT Fund. The third place for the award went to Badran, second place to Decode, and overall winners and first place went to Read my Voice.Next, the winners of “iCodeJr”, the SEF Coding Championship were announced, and CEO of iCodeJr, Hannan Moti was called to the stage. For the Junior Cadet track, Gopika Shendy took the stage and the audience's hearts as the huge sign announcing her achievement was bigger than her. For the Junior Captain track, Mohamed Jefran scooped the awards and for the Junior Colonel track, Waleed Afridi took the honours.Rashid Sahoo, Director of Business Center Management of Sharjah Media City was invited onto stage to hand over the award for the SEF Startup Pitch Competition which went to ‘Optimize’. Ayesha Jasem, Head of Business Development Section of Sharjah Business Women Council was then called up to grant the winner of the Women Founder Track their award, which went to Takalam and the winner of the Tourism track went to Simly and was presented by Karim El Marmari, Marketing Manager at Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority.The anticipated SEFFY awards winners were then invited on stage with Zohare Haider, Founder of receiving the Inspiring Founder Award, Fatema Al Hammadi receiving the Promising Future Entrepreneur Award and the Best Pitch Award went to Fortyguard.There was a huge round of applause and congratulations to all of the winners as the MCs wished them all the best in the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey.

Husni Al Bayari affirms Dubai’s 2040 Plan will encourage ecoconscious investment

 Husni Al Bayari, Chairman & Founder of D&B Properties affirmed that Dubai's Master Urban Plan for 2040 will have a transformative effect on the city's residential sector. The plan, which was announced last year, aims to make Dubai one of the most sustainable and livable cities in the world. Some of the key initiatives include developing new neighborhoods, expanding public transportation, and increasing green space.‘It is about creating a futuristic city that blends technology and sustainability with human-centric living’‘At D&B Properties, we anticipate strong demand for eco-friendly properties across all segments’‘The Urban Master Plan is an expansive strategy that seeks to create an environment where residents can live, work, and play in a safe, secure, and sustainable way’With a population of over 3 million people, Dubai is one of the most dynamic cities in the Middle East. In recent years, it has become a hub for technological innovation, international trade, and luxury tourism.Chairman & Founder Husni Al Bayari stated: “At its core, the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan is about creating a futuristic city that blends technology and sustainability with human-centric living. We are already witnessing a shift in the consortium of investor and buyer inquisition for sustainable and tech-savvy properties in Dubai, with many developers having upcoming projects that cater to the environmentally conscious wave. The 2040 Master Plan will further bolster this economic growth while also promoting sustainability and social justice. At D&B Properties, we anticipate strong demand for eco-friendly properties across all segments.”To ensure that this city remains at the forefront of global development, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President & Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, has given approval for the second phase of the 2040 master plan.The Urban Master Plan is an expansive strategy that seeks to create an environment where residents can live, work, and play in a safe, secure, and sustainable way. It includes major improvements to infrastructure, transportation options, and public safety initiatives that are set to benefit all aspects of life in Dubai. With these developments come immense opportunities for investors and homeowners alike.One of the primary goals is to ensure that high-quality housing is available to all residents of Dubai. To achieve this goal, new developments are being built across different parts of town that offer apartments and villas tailored towards different lifestyles and budgets.These projects range from affordable housing units designed for families on tight budgets to luxurious properties made for those who can afford a more extravagant lifestyle. This means that there is something available for everyone - no matter their budget or lifestyle preferences.The creation of an avenue connecting every residential neighborhood is the focus of Phase II of the master plan. It comprises identifying a location within residential neighborhoods and constructing it in accordance with the linked street network to improve the ease of mobility for residents.Another key focus area is creating incentives for growth in commercial real estate investment. By encouraging businesses to invest in commercial spaces within Dubai’s urban core, it creates job opportunities and encourages economic growth throughout the city.This helps create an environment where businesses can thrive while also helping drive demand for residential properties nearby due to increased employment opportunities within easy commuting distance from home.The plan outlines a vision for how the city will continue to grow and develop in order to meet the needs of its citizens in the future.The ten core efforts that make up the next phase of development include improving urban centers, Dubai Real Estate Strategy, Urban Farming Plan, Preserving Urban Heritage Plan, Creating the 20-Minute City Policy, and a Pedestrian Network Master Plan.HH Sheikh Mohammed recently stated: “Today, we have a clear vision for the development of Dubai’s urban infrastructure and housing sector until 2040. Our goal is for Dubai to be an eco- and pedestrian-friendly city, and a city with a high yield from urban agriculture.”

Amrita Sethi joins MEAACBA Advisory Board

Amrita Sethi a pioneer and thought leader in the web 3 space, and the UAE’s first NFT artist has joined the advisory board of the Middle East, Africa and Asia Crypto and Blockchain Association (MEAACBA).The Advisory Board of the Association is made up of notable practitioners and business owners, who will provide advice and support to the MEAACBA Board. The Advisory Board will also act as an expert resource for the Association Members, answering questions and helping start-ups and innovators to develop their companies.MEAACBA Board Chairman, Jehanzeb Awan, said: “We are delighted that Amrita has joined the Association. The unique way she combines physical artwork, NFTs and fashion with augmented, virtual reality and artificial intelligence has made her a global leader in the multimedia art genre. We are excited to have her as an advisor to the Association and know members will benefit from her experience and counsel through a range of initiatives.”Amrita moved into art following a successful career in the banking world, which lead to the creation of her multimedia art genre, SoundBYTEs(c) and her own language called The AlphaBYTEs. She was selected for Expo 2020 and has created one of the world’s largest augmented reality murals and the first of its type in the Middle East.“The crypto and blockchain sector is on a journey which requires education, transparency and regulation. Through the Association I hope I can help support the development of all three of these areas, especially education, so that we can foster innovation and talent.” added Ms Sethi.Further information is available on the MEAACBA website

Regional drinks giant Kassatly group holding announces strategic move to Cyprus

Lebanese drinks giant Kassatly Group Holding has started work on a new plant in Cyprus under “Boutique Beverage Bottling Int’l Ltd” as part of ambitious plans to move the brand from a regional powerhouse to a global player.The mega plant in Ypsonas, Limassol, should be fully operational by the end of 2023, with the company aiming to make the island home within a year, creating 100+ jobs.Founder Akram Kassatly said: “The tax incentives in Cyprus are attractive, but it is the geographical advantages to Europe, Africa, the Gulf countries and the Americas, which are most appealing to us and, most importantly, having Mediterranean and European seals on our products, something coveted by consumers worldwide.”Discussing the logistics of moving an integral part of the business to Cyprus, Mr Kassatly said the input, advice and professionalism of the Invest Cyprus team had made the experience both enjoyable and pain-free.“Invest Cyprus played a huge role in our decision to make Cyprus our base,” he said. “Each step brought a positive surprise, namely exceptional and fast responses from the moment we submitted our business plan to the planning department’s prompt assistance to make the new plant a reality.”Welcoming the Kassatly Family to the island, Invest Cyprus Chief Executive Officer George Campanellas said it was always “a pleasure” to accommodate companies in their search for new markets in Europe and beyond.“Kassatly Group Holding has long been a leading regional player with its innovative beverages, so to be involved in the next phase of this pioneering company’s development is hugely rewarding.“As the national authority responsible for attracting foreign investment and providing certainty to foreign companies operating in Cyprus, we are delighted to be able to provide the kind of platform that an ambitious company like Kassatly Group needs in order to fulfil its global aspirations.“With Cyprus situated at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa – something complemented by a highly-skilled, multi-lingual workforce, robust legal framework and business-friendly environment – it makes the island the ideal investment destination for business.”

91% of MENA professionals feel optimistic about 2023 – survey

A new survey by, the Middle East’s #1 job site, spotlights the career goals Middle East professionals will focus on in 2023. The 2023 New Year’s Resolutions Poll reveals that a majority of MENA professionals (91%) feel positive about 2023 and 88% have made resolutions for the new year.Personal AmbitionsAlthough 79% of respondents are pleased with their professional and personal growth during 2022, most MENA professionals are focused on improving aspects that have a direct impact on the quality of their lives. Among professionals who are making personal resolutions, popular ones are saving money (63%), exercising and following a healthy diet (18%), spending more time with friends and family (14%) and taking more vacations (5%).Interestingly, most respondents are optimistic about their ability to stick to their resolutions – 31% said that they have achieved all their resolutions for 2022 and 35% said they have achieved most of their resolutions for the year.Ola Haddad, Director of Human Resources at said: “A majority of MENA professionals are not only up for a challenge next year, but also view it as a means to enrich their professional and personal life. MENA professionals display a growth attitude, as they are eager to learn and develop and have ambitious goals for 2023. To attract and retain talent, companies must provide the incentives, work-life balance, and professional progression possibilities that employees demand.”Career AmbitionsCareer-related New Year's resolutions are popular among MENA professionals who aim to improve their career prospects in the coming year. These include finding a new job (56%), learning new skills at work (21%), getting a promotion or a salary raise (20%) and improve relationships with colleagues and managers (3%).Among professionals who are looking for new jobs, a whopping 74% are thinking of making a complete change in the industry they currently work in. Whilst looking for new jobs in 2023, respondents will look for career growth opportunities (31%), work-life balance (25%), flexible work arrangements (25%) and competitive salary (20%). Survey respondents use online job sites (69%), company websites (18%), social media (9%) and virtual job fairs (4%) to look for new jobs.Professionals in the MENA region also shed light on their expectations from employers and areas of improvement that could be taken into consideration in the new year. These include providing more training and learning resources (53%), more rewards and benefits (20%), more feedback and support (15%) and being more flexible with timing (12%).Data for the New Year’s Resolutions Poll 2023 was collected online from November 2 to December 4, 2022. Results are based on a sample of 2,988 respondents from the following countries: UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Sudan among others.

18 national and international companies join the SDG5 pledge

The UAE’s Leadership continues to champion gender balance as a national priority. The SDG 5 Pledge to Accelerate Gender Balance in the UAE Private Sector has a target of increasing the representation of women in leadership roles to 30% by 2025 to ensure their full and effective participation at the highest levels of decision making.Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council (UAE GBC), wife of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, affirmed that, the UAE, under the dedicated leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, is continuing to make substantial strides and achieve prosperity in various sectors while actively contribute to supporting global efforts aimed at achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.Her Highness said that the UAE GBC has intensified its efforts during the past years and will continue it during the coming period in cooperation and partnership with all state institutions to implement the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to enhance the competitiveness of the UAE globally and its position among the best countries in terms of gender balance.Her Highness expressed her pride in all companies that have signed the SDG 5 Pledge, emphasizing their willingness to work closely with the government to advance SDG 5 and gender balance in the UAE private sector and country more broadly. The "SDG 5 Pledge to Accelerate Gender Balance in the UAE Private Sector", has a target of raising women’s participation in senior and middle management roles to 30% by 2025.On 15th December, 18 additional local and multinational companies signed the Pledge, bringing the total to 56. Signatory companies are from a range of sectors including law, healthcare, defense, finance, energy, and professional services.The Pledge has four main pillars: ensuring equal pay and compensation; promoting gender equitable recruitment and promotion; reviewing company policies and programs to advance gender balance; and transparency through annual reporting to the UAE Gender Balance Council.The newest group of 18 companies who signed the Pledge did so during an event organized by the UAE GBC at the Capital Club in the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC),During the event, HE Shamsa Saleh, Secretary General of the UAE GBC, delivered a speech on behalf of HH Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, where she expressed her thanks to all the companies for their dedicated support and cooperation with the Council to achieve the vision and goals of the UAE at the local and global levels.Companies who signed on December 15 include: Emirates Group, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, Kaman, Chalhoub Group, Aramex International LLC, Jacobs, APCO Worldwide, Omnicom Media Group MENA, Kraft Heinz MEA, Crescent Enterprises, Saab,, Dentons & Co., Clifford Chance, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, TVM Capital Healthcare, Brunswick Group, and Russell Reynolds Associates.In turn, corporate officials affirmed during the signing ceremony of the pledge their companies' commitment and the private sector, in general, to work closely with government to enhance gender balance in the UAE.This Pledge is the result a longstanding partnership between the UAE Government and the private sector, and is a direct result of the efforts of the Private Sector Advisory Council on Sustainable Development Goals, in cooperation with the National Committee for Sustainable Development Goals, represented by the UAE Gender Balance Council and the Federal Center for Competitiveness and Statistics Centre.

Start-ups get a chance to learn valuable insight directly from their customers

More than 100 exhibition booths provided insight into some of the businesses targeted towards entrepreneurs and featured industries such as Real Estate, Fintech, e-Services Start-ups and host of others at SEF 2022. The booths allowed visitors to SEF to meet the change-makers and innovative entrepreneurs who are already well on their journey to building growing business empires as well as enquire about their businesses to gain valuable knowledge.SEF provides these opportunities to both attendees and business owners to network, share their innovative ideas and creative business models and give visitors a chance to learn about sustainable businesses and how they’ve found a balance between commerce and customer’s needs and their understanding of market variables.

Sharjah is on the rise with a 68% increase in female entrepreneurs

On the opening day of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) 2022, the Impact Stage did exactly that — made a huge impact on all in attendance. A panel discussion titled "Marhaba: Welcome to Sharjah", featuring experts in the fields of tourism and business development, discussed strategies for promoting Sharjah as a destination for a global audience, lauded SEF’s efforts in gathering such a large number of entrepreneurs to learn and enrich their businesses. The panel hosted Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), Khaled Al Midfa; Mohammed Musharrakh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah; Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, Group CEO of Arada; Maryam Bin Al Shaikh, Director of the Sharjah Business Women Council; and Kareem Al Jisr, Chief Sustainability Officer of Diamond Developers; and was moderated by broadcast journalist Abdul Karim Hanif.Khaled Al Midfa stressed the importance of learning and understanding the culture and history of Sharjah in order to effectively welcome and engage with visitors and the fact that more than 50% of the UAE’s museums were located in the emirate and that tourism made up over 12% of the GDP. "By embracing and sharing our culture and heritage, we can create a truly authentic and meaningful experience for visitors," he said. Al Midfa mentioned that tourism is rapidly growing in Sharjah and even though the population is around 1.5million, over 1.8million people visited and booked hotel rooms in the past year. “Sharjah has a population of over 200 nationalities, we have well diversified economies, we are a dynamic emirate that provides a benchmark for innovation and that exceeds expectations time and time again. We are a hub of possibilities with a strong authentic identity”.Mohammed Musharrakh highlighted the commitment of Sharjah and its government to provide unique and authentic experiences for both visitors and businesses. “Invest in Sharjah plays a crucial role in facilitating this experience through our partnerships and collaborations with businesses and organisations, including the important work we do with Sheera and Sharjah Investors Services Center for example. The turnout today by entrepreneurs and business people investing their weekend into SEF is a testament to the fact that our work is effectively attracting the next generation to our emirate” he said.Maryam Bin Al Shaikh talked about the role of women entrepreneurs in the ensuring holistic development of Sharjah society. "Sharjah has had a 68% increase in female entrepreneurs recently and as the market grows and expands we will continue cultivating an environment that is inclusive and supportive. None of this would have been possible without the important role that people in the top level of government play and the support we have from Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah."Ahmed Alkhoshaibi of Arada talked about the exponential growth Sharjah has had over the past year in the property market with over AED 700 million transacted in last month alone with 90% of the investments being made by foreign nationals. “Although the increase in purchases made by foreigners has been increasing year-on-year, the investment by locals has held steady and these numbers shouldn’t be seen as a decrease in local investment but rather an example of how Sharjah is becoming an increasingly valued destination for the world.”Kareem Al Jisr talked about the role that Sharjah Sustainable City has had on the emirate as a project partnered between Sharjah Investment and Development Authority(Shurooq) and Diamond Developers saying, “Sharjah Sustainable City is a home for new ideas and innovations, a place to innovate problem solving. We pride ourselves on being a place for early adopters and a living lab or “sandbox” for development. We provide a space of 67 hectors for entities and people to innovate and flourish.”The panel discussion was part of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival 2022, a celebration of innovation and business growth in the emirate. The festival will continue on December 18, featuring a range of events and workshops aimed at supporting entrepreneurs, youth, and leaders to share ideas for creating a brighter future.

Sharakah outlines future vision for Oman SMEs at 18th annual meeting of INSME

Sharakah, Fund for Development of Youth Projects, made by Royal Decree for supporting the SME sector in Oman, recently attended the 18th annual meeting of the International Network for Small and Medium Enterprises (INSME), held in Baku, Azerbaijan. The International Network for SMEs, based in Rome, Italy, holds an annual general meeting to address diverse subjects and significant challenges that concern the SME industry besides discussing the achievements and goals of the Association.This year's INSME conference, with the theme "Empowering SMEs - Economic Diversification & Green Growth," was held at the JW Marriott Hotel, Baku under the patronage of His Excellency Mikayil Jabbarov, Minister of Economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Other prominent international figures in attendance included H.E Yves Leterme, former PM of Belgium, Mr. Sergio Arzeni, President of INSME, Mr. Orkhan Mammadov, Chairman, KOBIA and Ali Ahmed Muqaibal, CEO of Sharakah. Hosted in association with the Small and Medium Business (SMB) Development Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan (KOBIA), the 18th INSME meeting took into account the current and existing international context for the SME sector; addressing high-interest rates, a possible recession, damages caused by natural disasters and climate change and global conflict amongst others.Recognising that SMEs are essential to the global economy as a driver, contributor and employer, Sharakah discussed future cooperation and joint projects during the highly strategic meeting. On the role of SMEs in global diversification and sustainability efforts, Ali Muqaibal stated, “The speed of energy transition in any economy depends on many factors, such as the energy situation of the country, social and economic factors, etc. Amidst this environment, the incubation provided by multinational organizations and universities for SMEs has played a vital role in promoting green innovation by providing funds, closing gaps for research and development and acting as a catalyst in their integration of a green ecosystem as part of their ESG contribution.”The two-day meeting included many sessions and discussion panels for the attendees to deliberate and exchange market expertise and knowledge. Sessions covered sustainability and energy challenges for SMEs, contingency planning, innovation and green growth, policy and response, Annual General Assembly as well as a fruitful matchmaking session to pair SMEs with potential investors and stakeholders. The event also included sideline meetings for attendees to hold one-on-one discussions.Furthering its efforts to identify opportunities for growth and international engagement, Sharakah organized a side meeting with His Excellency Orkhan Mammadov, Chairman of the Management Board of the Small and Medium Business Development Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan (KOB?A), who has expressed his interest in visiting the Sultanate to seek out potential partnerships and areas of collaboration with Sharakah. It’s worth mentioning that Sharakah, aside from offering financial support and guidance to SMEs, also helps build local entrepreneurial capacity, advocates policies related to the SME sector and promotes the concept of entrepreneurship in the Sultanate in line with Oman’s 2040 vision.

DET launches the annual Dubai Tourism Summit

Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) has announced the launch of the annual Dubai Tourism Summit, a first-of-its-kind travel forum in the region which will lay the foundation for a home-grown world-class thought leadership programme to boost the city’s resurgent tourism industry and support regional and global tourism.The DET announced the forum today at its bi-annual ‘City Briefing’ event held during the Skift Global Forum East, the first-ever MENA extension of the Skift Global Forum. The Dubai Tourism Summit will provide a networking platform for industry stakeholders to share their vision, ideas, strategies and best practices, as well as insights on leveraging the latest innovations and trends to create a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable future for global tourism.The DET also shared the latest tourism report for the first ten months of 2022. Data showed that Dubai welcomed 11.4 million international overnight visitors between January and October, an impressive year-on-year increase of 134%, taking the city further on its journey to becoming the world’s most visited destination.The DET’s ‘City Briefing’ was presided over by His Excellency Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General of DET, and attended by more than 1,000 executives from across the tourism ecosystem, including aviation, travel, hospitality and retail sectors. The meeting provided an update and outlook on the industry. It explored ways to continue accelerating the momentum to reinforce Dubai’s position as a global hub for business, investment, talent and tourism.Helal Al Marri said: “We are grateful to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for his visionary leadership, inspiration and guidance that has led to several milestones in 2022. Dubai has always been an international icon of innovation and excellence. The Dubai Tourism Summit will see us working even more closely with our domestic and global stakeholders and partners as we focus on pushing the boundaries further to highlight Dubai’s position as the top international destination and the best city in the world to live in, work and invest. With the Dubai Tourism Summit, we will elevate our blueprint for sustainable growth, contributing towards our industry’s continued success and supporting the recovery of regional and global tourism.”Al Marri added: “Our performance in the first ten months of 2022 indicates that we are on target to achieving our tourism goals, which dovetail with the UAE Tourism Strategy 2031 announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to attract AED100billion as additional tourism investments and 40 million hotel guests by 2031. It is also a testament to our city’s resilience, robust and diversified market strategy, solid collaboration model between the government and private sectors, and the strength of the city’s diverse destination proposition. We are well-placed to end this year on a resounding note and perform even better in 2023 and beyond, steadfastly supported by our aviation, travel and hospitality partners, who continue to champion Dubai’s position as the first-choice destination for global travellers.”Key markets continue to deliver on tourism volumesThe 11.4 million international overnight visitors who arrived in Dubai between January and October 2022 represented a quantum leap over the 4.88 million visitors that the city welcomed for the same period in 2021. The numbers are close to the pre-pandemic record of 13.50 million international visitors in the first ten months of 2019. Dubai’s international tourism arrivals significantly outperformed other major global destinations, giving Dubai a head start on post-pandemic recovery.Hospitality sector shines across many metricsParticipants were also briefed on the hospitality sector’s outstanding success, as it played a significant part in Dubai’s impressive rebound. Dubai’s growing popularity among global travellers is evident in the fact that there were 54 million online searches for Dubai per month during Q3 2022, which was close to pre-pandemic levels, with bookings in the last few months surpassing pre-pandemic levels.Dubai shares limelight with other global cities with 71% occupancyAverage hotel occupancy in Dubai between January-October 2022 stood at 71%, one of the highest hotel occupancies in the world. This compares to 64% in the corresponding period of last year and just short of the 74% during the pre-pandemic period of 2019. Dubai’s occupancy continues to closely trail the top benchmark cities: Istanbul (75%), New York (74%), Paris (73%), London (73%) and Los Angeles (72%).Hotels register strong growth; supply up by 18% over pre-pandemic levelsDubai’s hotel inventory in October 2022 comprised 144,737 rooms at 790 hotel establishments compared with 122,185 rooms available at the end of October 2019 across 724 establishments. The total number of hotels in the first ten months of 2022 saw an 8% growth over the same period in 2021, highlighting strong investor confidence in Dubai’s tourism sector.The hotel sector outperformed pre-pandemic levels across all other key measurements: Occupied Room Nights, Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR). Despite the significant 18% increase in supply compared with pre-pandemic levels, Dubai hotels achieved strong growth across ADR and REVPAR over 2019 levels. Dubai hotel establishments delivered a combined 30.40 million occupied room nights during the first ten months of the year, a 23% YTD growth and a 17% increase over the corresponding pre-pandemic period of 2019, which yielded 26.01 million occupied room nights.The ADR of AED506 in the first ten months of 2022 surpassed the ADRs for the first ten months of 2021 (AED384) and 2019 (AED400), with a 32% increase in ADR in YTD October 2022 vs YTD October 2021 and a 27% increase vs YTD October 2019. The stellar performance of the hotel sector is also demonstrated in RevPAR growth: a 48% increase in RevPAR in YTD October 2022 vs YTD October 2021 (AED362 vs AED245) and 23% vs pre-pandemic YTD October 2019.Taking Dubai to the worldThe stakeholders and partners were also briefed on the creative global campaigns that Dubai has consistently launched across multiple traditional, digital and social media platforms to highlight the city’s multi-faceted appeal to audiences in international markets. For instance, the highly successful Dubai Presents campaign comprises a series of movie-style trailers featuring Hollywood stars Jessica Alba and Zac Efron and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan. Most recently, the ‘Where the World Celebrates’ global campaign features French football star Karim Benzema coinciding with the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.His Excellency Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), said: “Inspired by our visionary leadership, 2022 has been a transformative year for developing and broadening Dubai’s global appeal, designed to keep thedestination top-of-mind and to cater to the varied needs and tastes of international travellers. With the world on the move again, our ability to quickly react, adapt, evolve and tap into existing and new segments of travellers is key to Dubai’s efforts to leverage and benefit from a rapidly and radically evolving global tourism landscape. We have ensured a steady influx of international visitors by offering more value than any comparable destination. We will maintain our competitive edge through our strong public-private partnerships, expansion of the diverse destination offering and constant launching of innovative initiatives and international campaigns to showcase Dubai as a ‘must-visit’ destination, as well as cement its position as one of the most accessible and liveable cities in the world.”Dubai, a family destination and global liveability hubThe briefing highlighted the results of the DET’s International Visitor Survey. The survey revealed that, in H1 2022, Dubai gained significant ground as it consolidated its position as a destination of choice for families and couples (79%) and that international visitors stayed longer in Dubai during their visits in H1 2022 (+0.8 days vs H1 2019). With this, Dubai has seen positive performance across all tourism pillars, from culture to cuisine, adventure, entertainment to shopping. The survey also highlighted that young travellers in the under-35 age group constituted a significant proportion (40%) of travellers to Dubai in H1.A Skift trends report published for the Skift Global Forum East in collaboration with the DET shed more light on Dubai’s emergence as a global destination. The report titled ‘Livable, agile, resilient – Dubai’s blueprint for a 21st-century tourism destination’ highlights the experiences and lessons learned by the city’s leaders, tourism partners, and global industry leaders as they navigate numerous challenges together.Dubai ranks highest among the region’s most liveable citiesThe report highlights that Dubai annually ranks highest among the most liveable cities in the Middle East according to the Economist Intelligence Unit report, a leading provider of global insights and market intelligence. The report underscores the city’s focus on improving the quality of life and its efforts on building a well-rounded and sustainable community, noting that Dubai was ranked No. 2 in 2021 in the Euromonitor International Top 100 City Destinations Index. It also shows that Dubai was the only city with four Top-10 rankings out of sixcategories: Tourism Policy and Attractiveness, Health and Safety, Economic and Business Performance, and Tourism Performance.The Skift report also shared DET data that ranked Dubai highly on tourism-specific pillars. More than 80% of visitors gave “general entertainment” and “hotels/accommodation” at least a nine out of 10 rating in 2021, with several other key areas — outdoor adventure and sports, family entertainment, and shopping and retail — earning such high marks from more than 75% of visitors to the emirate. Each of these areas saw anywhere from four to 12 percentage-point gains in visitor satisfaction.Attractions, achievements and accoladesBuilding upon the city’s drive to diversify its offerings to ensure a broad choice for travellers of all ages, 2022 saw the opening of new attractions and leisure landmarks, including the Museum of the Future and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library. Dubai continued to be honoured with awards and recognition from the industry. Dubai ranked as the No.1 global destination, the No.1 destination for ‘City Lovers’ and the No.4 destination for ‘Food Lovers’ in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2022. The accolades speak volumes about the city’s appeal to a diverse global audience.The biggest success story of the past year was Expo 2020 Dubai, which played a pivotal role in driving worldwide interest in Dubai and accelerating momentum across several sectors, including tourism. Expo attracted 192 participating nations and more than 24 million visits by residents and global travellers, placing Dubai at the heart of a dynamic international agenda and positioning it as a leading global city for trade, investment and tourism. A game-changer in this direction is Expo City Dubai, the dynamic legacy of Expo 2020 that will be a futuristic destination driven by sustainability, innovation, education and entertainment and a model city of the future.A global gastronomy hubDuring the briefing, DET shared the initiatives contributing to these successful tourism figures. The city’s Gastronomy Always On (GAON) campaign has worked tirelessly to bolster Dubai’s position as a global gastronomy hub. The GAON campaign championed Dubai’s array of home-grown dining destinations and street food eateries through a series of events, including the Dubai Food Festival.Dubai’s reputation for serving diverse culinary experiences was further enhanced by the launch of MICHELIN Guide Dubai in June and the arrival of the renowned fine dining food critique brand Gault&Millau. Further, the inaugural edition of Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants recognised 16 Dubai restaurants in February 2022. Dubai is home to more than 13,000 restaurants and cafés serving food and beverage from the cultures of over 200 nationalities residing in the city. This year, the DET also launched the region’s first-ever Gastronomy Industry Report, a comprehensive study of the city and region’s gastronomy scene, reinforcing Dubai’s position as a sought-after global destination for food tourism.A year-round destination for international eventsDuring the briefing, the DET presented the city’s year-round calendar of events, which has been a driving factor behind Dubai’s thriving tourism sector. With an impressive line-up of even more citywide events, activations and experiences led by the iconic Dubai Shopping Festival, the annual Retail Calendar is being unveiled on a large scale throughout 2023, featuring festivals, events, celebrations and promotions.Dubai is also celebrating the FIFA World Cup in Qatar with several pop-ups, alfresco experiences and fan zones, which broadcast live the FIFA World Cup games. These fan zones include BudX FIFA Fan Festival at Dubai Harbour, with Dubai being one of only six cities around the world designated to host official BudX fan zones.This year, Dubai also hosted the first edition of the inaugural Dubai Esports Festival, experiencing great success with attendance by global audiences and celebrity appearances. It reaffirmed Dubai’s position as a global pioneer in technology and sports and further reinforced its international reputation as a leading city for year-round events.The briefing explored Dubai’s position as a key destination for global business events, with 370 bids submitted for international events with 283 international business events in the pipeline and set for future hosting in Dubai. In addition to Expo 2020, the city has hosted globallyrecognised business events and activities throughout the year, including Gulfood, Arabian Travel Market, Gitex Global and now the Skift Global Forum East. These international events have helped amplify Dubai’s position as a tourist destination and welcome an array of ‘bleisure’ travellers.His Excellency Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO, Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DRFE), said: “As a multi-faceted destination that offers visitors a multitude of experiences, events form a key element of Dubai’s tourism strategy. Our reputation as a pioneering year-round international events destination has been bolstered considerably this year, thanks to a roster of quality international leisure and business events. As we reach the end of a landmark year for Dubai in terms of festivals, events and entertainment, we are already looking ahead to 2023 and beyond to cater for the evolving needs of a diversified visitor profile. In preparing for such an outlook, sustained cross-industry partnerships will be even more crucial to retaining Dubai’s status as a leading global events destination.”Cruise hub of the region set to welcome 900,000 cruise touristsCruise tourism also played a pivotal role in the success of Dubai’s tourism sector, with the new season kicking off with the arrival of the cruise liner TUI Cruises (Mein Schiff 6) at the Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal, Mina Rashid in October. The 2022-2023 season will see 166 ship calls between Mina Rashid and Dubai Harbour, bringing in an estimated 900,000 cruise passengers and crew.New initiatives to spur growthDubai’s ambition to become the city of the future will be primarily driven by the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, which aims to expand Dubai’s offering and place a reimagined focus on enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors, with sustainability at the core of these developments. Dubai continues to launch bold regulatory citywide initiatives to promote accelerated growth across the tourism sector, including streamlining access to the city by establishing hassle-free entry procedures for business and leisure travellers and long-term engagement with the city. Such initiatives include the introduction of the 60-day tourist visa from September 2022 and the Five-Year Multi-Entry Visa for employees of multinational companies. These were in addition to other previously announced initiatives – including theGolden Visa initiative targeting investors, entrepreneurs and specialised talents, and Virtual working and Retire in Dubai programmes.During the last year, Dubai has built momentum in business tourism with more flexibility for talent to visit and stay back in Dubai. The new era of flexible working means that people can work from anywhere and at the same time enjoy the diverse offering of that particular destination. Remote workers favour Dubai due to its vast array of co-working spaces, attractive hotel packages, and growing popularity as a global liveability hub.

BeIN sports to broadcast FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 final on free-to-air and YT

beIN MEDIA GROUP (“beIN”) has revealed its extensive broadcast plans for the upcoming final of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – including live, exclusive, and multilingual coverage of 18 December’s finale between Argentina and France. The broadcast will be made available on beIN SPORTS’ free-to-air channel and, as part of its commitment to making the Arab World’s first World Cup accessible for viewers across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the match, as well as the entire day’s coverage, will be available to stream free of charge on beIN’s official YouTube channel.As the official broadcaster in 24 countries across MENA, beIN has played a central role in showcasing Qatar and its ground-breaking tournament to the world this past month, with more than 5 billion accumulated views since the biggest sporting event on the planet kicked off on November 20.Sunday’s trophy match between an Argentina side looking to secure a third World Cup title and the regaining world champions, France promises to be one of the most-watched sports events in history.Mohammad Al-Subaie, CEO of beIN MENA said: “The final of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ this Sunday will be a historic occasion for football, for the Arab World, and for beIN. For this reason, we are determined to make sure it is available to as many people who want to watch it as possible. We started this tournament promising to provide an unrivalled viewing experience to football fans across the region and, with billions of people having tuned in so far, we can safely say we have succeeded in doing that. Now, with two games remaining, we are set to finish the tournament as we started, and cannot wait to witness – and broadcast – history as it is written.”Ahead of the 18:00 final match kick-off inside the iconic Lusail stadium, Arabic coverage will start at 08:00 MECCA on beIN SPORTS’ free-to-air channel, beIN SPORTS MAX 1, and beIN SPORTS’ YouTube channel, with a series of shows and countdowns, before the in-studio build-up gets underway from 16:00 to 02:00 MECCA the following day.English live coverage starts at 11:00 MECCA on beIN SPORTS MAX 3 with the World Cup Daily, followed by a countdown show from 13:00 to 15:45 MECCA. The commentary on the final match will kick off at 16:00 until 21:45 and is available in both Spanish as well as English.French live coverage will begin at 10:00 MECCA on beIN SPORTS MAX 5, with the live pre-match show kicking off at 15:30 MECCA direct from Lusail Stadium. Final match commentary will proceed from 16:00 until 22:30, with Sunday’s coverage being completed with a post-match show.beIN will have the best line up of regional and international talents anywhere in the world providing the best analysis and insight into the much-anticipated Final. Sunday’s studios will include: Mohammed Aboutrika, Tarek Al Jamala, Kaka, Marcel Desailly, John Terry, Ruud Gullit, Omar Da Fonseca and Daniel Bravo.

Grand Mercure Hotel & Residences & ibis Styles Dubai Airport appoints Arsanious

The brand new ACCOR complex celebrating the UAE heritage is pleased to announce the appointment of Arsanious SAAD as Cluster Director of Sales & Marketing.Saad brings more than 13 years of hospitality management experience to the properties, making him a valuable asset to the hotel and group. Using his customer-centric and data-driven expertise, he will play an integral role in leading, developing and supervising the commercial strategy of the 712 keys complex.Saad aims to extend a premium level of service to guests and to build on Grand Mercure Dubai’s market position as a leading luxury hotel in GCC region.Prior to this role, he held the Cluster Director of Sales & Marketing position for IHG Hotels & Resorts Dubai (1600+ keys) where he over achieved the hotel’s revenue in the first 6 months and managed to increase the MPI growth.Saad has a bachelor in Business Administration and Commerce from Zagazig University, Egypt.On his appointment, Saad said, “I am delighted to be part of such a great team. The property has continually raised the bar for offering guests luxurious yet affordable experiences and I look forward to working with the team to build on the reputation that the ACCOR Group has created for itself around the world.” Tyrone Lodder, Cluster General Manager at Grand Mercure & Ibis Styles Dubai Airport, said, “We are glad to welcome Arsanious Saad to the team and confident in his broad skillset. Saad’s passion for optimizing sales revenue will shine as he settles into the new role, ensuring to maintain the properties in "pole position," within its compset.

UK & DIFC joint statement on deepening data partnership

On behalf of the UK Government and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the UK Minister of State for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure, Julia Lopez MP, and Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority, issued a joint statement on a shared commitment to deepening their data partnership and the promotion of the trustworthy use and exchange of data between the UK and DIFC.DIFC is the first financial centre in the MEASA region to engage with the UK Government on an adequacy assessment.DIFC welcomes the recent and noteworthy progress made by our respective officials to facilitate the free and secure flow of personal data between the UK and DIFC and will prioritise the successful conclusion of the assessment of DIFC in these discussions.International data transfers underpin modern-day business transactions and financial services. They help streamline supply chain management and allow for financial inclusion, so that businesses anywhere, particularly those in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region with ties to the UK, can scale and trade globally. There are as many as 5,000 British companies operating in the UAE, many of which depend on safe data transfers.Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: “DIFC is a destination for culture and commerce, but its key distinguishing factor is its legal and regulatory framework. The sound infrastructure built by our legislation is adaptable yet resilient enough to cater to essential, innovative legal principles and best practices that support key business activities in DIFC. The DIFC Data Protection Law 2020 is a prime example of that, and the joint statement issued today with the UK government confirms it.”Jacques Visser, Chief Legal Officer and Commissioner of Data Protection at DIFC, added: “I am pleased to share that our team has been working in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) team to build a reliable, scalable yet robust “data bridge” between our jurisdictions. The joint statement issued today is a signal that the UK is taking its place as a leader in innovative data protection policy, and the evaluation of the DIFC Data Protection Law is a key part of the overall policy framework on international transfers. We look forward to completing the assessment in the near future.”Julia Lopez, UK Minister of State for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure, said: “Trusted data transfers can unlock huge potential for trade, investment and innovation around the world. The UAE has always been an important destination for UK businesses, and I look forward to strengthening our partnership through the free and secure flow of data in the future.”The UK and DIFC share a deep commitment to high data protection standards fit for the digital age, which are underpinned by the trustworthy use of data. We are both working to ensure that our data protection laws facilitate responsible innovation, reduce burdens on businesses and deliver better, lower risk outcomes.

Blue to debut a fintech super app for Iraq and the Middle East

Blue (Ishtar Gate Company for E-Payment Systems and Services), an Iraq-based fintech company providing a wide range of technology solutions, has released its latest technology that allows users to trade US-listed stocks via a mobile app called Bluepay. Recently approved by the Central Bank in Iraq as the first and only company to offer international money transfer service, Blue CEO Ali Al-Saeed, said, “This is an unprecedented technology solution built and provided locally in Iraq. It has triggered other fintech-provided services such as a multi-currency solution that opens up a new horizon of opportunities in the Iraqi market.”Regardless of the type of cards they have, the multi-currency technology available to all users of the app helps them top up their accounts with by both dollars and Iraqi dinars, then exchange their balances into 10 other currencies. “For instance, converting to Turkish lira enabled tourists to Turkey to have a local-like card and small businesses purchasing products from Turkey had access to e-commerce platforms that only deal with Turkish-issued financial products,” he added.Corridor to ChinaVia the app, Bluepay users can issue a UnionPay Card, a Chinese state-owned financial services company, that helps them carry out financial transactions to/from China. Bluepay UnionPay opens the China corridor for SMEs in Iraq and MENA region to do more business through Chinese companies.Ali Al-Saeed explained, “Our goal is to create the first super financial app in the region that gives freedom to users, while also enabling regional banks to provide unparalleled services using our technology. We plan to expand our services in the region by focusing on Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the first quarter of 2023."Followed Blue Platinum, the first platinum prepaid card“All this comes a few months after the launch of Blue Platinum, the first platinum prepaid card that Bluepay launched in Iraq in partnership with Visa International that aims to provide normal consumers with platinum add-ons as well as other fintech technologies such as the multi-currency capability and zero fess for online transaction,” he concluded.

Study: 76% of UAE’s consumers expect to send more money internationally

Citizens and residents of the United Arab Emirates (the UAE) expect to transfer more money internationally in the next 12 months, according to a study commissioned by Western Union. Exclusive insights show that 76% of consumers who send money and 75% of consumers who receive money, respectively, expect to transfer and collect even more funds over the next year.The study, which surveyed more than 1,000 UAE-based citizens and residents who send and receive cross-border money transfers, explores consumer sentiment on how, when and why they move money. The results bolster Western Union’s recently announced ‘Evolve 2025’ (E25) strategy of combining high-value, accessible retail and digital financial services.Family support is highlighted by 60% of senders as the primary reason for transferring money overseas. Saving for the future comes in a distant second, ranked by 11% of senders. A well-known melting pot of cultures, the UAE is home to more than 200 nationalities and ranks among the top most talent competitive countries. Some of its more sizeable communities come from the world’s largest remittance-receiving economies.Caring for family back home is further re-enforced as one of the main factors driving the number and amounts of overseas transfers. Furthermore, as increased living expenses and global currency fluctuations create additional pressure on personal finances, 74% state that because of higher cost of living in the country they send to, they need to transfer more money. Seventy-one percent state that they take the opportunity to send more money when the currency value falls in their receiving country.“To remit is often a very personal decision. Western Union data also supports that one of the most common reasons why consumers remit is to support loved ones and family,” said Jean Claude Farah, President of Middle East and Asia Pacific at Western Union. “So it is only natural that as the global economic climate challenges affordable ways of living, family support takes precedence over everything else as senders move money,”“Continuously attracting such a diverse range of nationalities is a true testament to the UAE’s efforts to position itself as a global partner, and an attractive and influential economic hub,” Farah added. “We believe that these ongoing efforts will also mean that the UAE will continue to ride the top spot as one of the biggest senders of remittances in the world. It also makes it even more incumbent on us as businesses to connect people to opportunity; Western Union has been doing this for consumers in the UAE for almost 25 years and is deeply committed to the country. As we evolve and grow in the years ahead, we remain steadfast in enabling an environment that drives financial inclusion and creates pathways for long-term economic success across the country’s societies.”Cultures and familial ties influence the frequency and flow of moneySending money shortly after payday regardless of wider economic circumstance (34%), or family needs back home (32%) are the two best-known drivers of money transfer flow and frequency. However, Western Union’s study also shows a third factor: almost a quarter (21%) of consumers say they focus on sending money during festive occasions such as Ramadan, Christmas, New Year and Diwali, as well as other special occasions, such as birthdays, graduations and anniversaries.In an interesting reversal of this trend, 37% of UAE consumers who receive money transfers also say frequency and amount is influenced most strongly by festive and other special occasions, ranking higher than family needs (27%) or the timing of their sender’s paychecks (18%).“We understand that diverse populations have equally diverse needs. Festive seasons and special moments are a great example, whereby every year, we see an uptick of approximately 6% in the volume of remittance transactions as these occasions approach,” Farah said. “Western Union offers a broad mix of digital and retail channels to serve the varying payment needs of millions of customers worldwide. We believe that the trust we enjoy with consumers in the UAE and around the world puts us in a unique position to help millions of people bring their best to society.”Tech-savvy population seeks choice in the futureAs consumers consider how they would like to send and receive money in the future, they value choice above all. Western Union’s study shows that 42% currently send money across borders exclusively through digital channels. However, as they look ahead, 46% want to be able to choose how they send their funds, whether in cash or digitally.A similar sentiment is echoed among receivers. Forty-three percent currently receive money through digital channels only. In the future, 57% want to be able to choose between digital and retail channels when collecting their funds.Those who do not use digital channels, say the top barrier preventing them from sending or receiving money online is their preference for face-to-face interaction, followed by trust. Process or customer experience is also another commonly cited barrier.Farah concluded, “Findings from the research show that while most consumers can be considered digital-first, many ultimately want to able to choose between digital and retail options, based on their convenience and needs. However, being able to trust in online services is critical, and as an industry, we have work to do helping consumers overcome their concerns. Ultimately, our end goal will always be to ensure that we can support even more people’s financial needs, wherever they are geographically, culturally or economically.”

UAE SA organizes workshop to introduce the geospatial analytics platform

 The UAE Space Agency, in collaboration with Bayanat, organized a workshop to discuss the Geospatial Analytics Platform for the Space Data Center, and cover the project’s targeted objectives, outputs and services. The workshop was held on Tuesday, December 13, in Abu Dhabi.“As part of our efforts to raise awareness about the national projects and initiatives launched by the UAE Space Agency, this workshop aims to introduce the attendees to the targeted objectives, outputs, and services of the Geospatial Analytics Platform. The partnership will allow SMEs and entrepreneurs to design, develop, and commercialize space data applications and value-added services (VAS),” said HE Salem Butti Al Qubaisi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency.The workshop agenda included two technical sessions, and a full introduction of the project’s targeted objectives, outputs and services, as well as a detailed explanation of satellite image analysis techniques and models for analytical reports. The workshop also included a presentation by the UAE Space Agency to emphasize the strategic drive towards stimulating the private sector specifically the space applications and value added services market and presentations by Bayanat to highlight the project’s objectives, key requirements and implementation plans, including development and operational phases.The technical sessions discussed the production-level Artificial Intelligence (AI) development for geospatial applications, and an introduction to Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) analytics and applications. The agenda also included an open discussion and Q&A session about the project.The workshop was attended by a wide audience of federal and local governmental entities, start-ups, companies working in AI-powered smart applications and geospatial solutions, as well as academia and geospatial specialists.Through the platform, which is expected to be completed by Q4, 2023, the UAE Space Agency aims to facilitate access to satellite data for scientists, researchers, government and private institutions, start-ups, and community members, to develop solutions that support national and global challenges.On the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi Space Debate, the UAE Space Agency signed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with Bayanat to design, develop, and operate the Geospatial Analytics Platform for the Space Data Center, one of the transformation projects announced by the UAE government. The projects aim to create an innovative ecosystem for Earth monitoring applications, by harnessing the power of data management, and providing analytics reports, by using specialized satellites.

Chairman of Int’l Federation for Falconry Sports

  Ahmed bin Mohammed is elected as Chairman of the International Federation for Falconry Sports and Racing. The International Federation for Falconry Sports and Racing today held its first meeting at the Etihad Museum, during which it announced the election of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the UAE Falcons Federation, as Chairman of the International Federation.The meeting was attended by representatives from 11 countries, including the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Tanzania, Uzbekistan and Argentina. During the meeting, the attendees praised the UAE’s contributions to preserving and developing the sport of falconry.The International Federation was established as an independent international sports entity following directives by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai. The entity, which will support all sports related to falcon racing, is permanently headquartered in the UAE.In his speech, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed thanked international sports organisations for their trust, which he said reflects the UAE’s achievements in the heritage sector under the guidance of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The country’s leadership is committed to preserving the UAE’s heritage and places it at the top of its priorities, His Highness said.His Highness Sheikh Ahmed congratulated the leadership on the establishment of the International Federation for Falconry Sports and Racing under the directives of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed. The Federation will support the practice of this sport globally in an organised manner, observing sporting values and rules and regulations of the game, he said.His Highness added that the Federation would work with national falconry entities from around the world to exchange knowledge and expertise while welcoming feedback to support the sport. Members of the International Federation for Falconry Sports and Racing thanked HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed and lauded the UAE’s efforts to promote falconry as one of the key heritage sports in the world. During the meeting, Sheikh Zayed bin Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Vice President of the Board of Directors of the UAE Falcons Federation, was named as Vice Chairman of the International Federation for Falconry Sports and Racing. Meanwhile, Rashid Mubarak bin Markhan, Secretary General of the UAE Falcons Federation, was elected as the Secretary General of the International Federation for Falconry Sports and Racing. The Board of Directors of the Federation was asked to prepare an action plan and reach out to all relevant entities worldwide to promote the international federation in the next phase. On the sidelines of the meeting, Sheikh Zayed bin Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan honoured the top three winners in the UAE Falcons Federation Cup for falcon races in the categories: Sheikhs, Open Public, and Owners. Dumaithan Suwaidan Saeed Al Qamzi was also honoured in recognition of his efforts for chairing the organising committees of the Fazza Championships for Falconry since 2003.The meeting was attended by Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Chairman of the General Authority of Sports and First Deputy President of the UAE National Olympic Committee, and His Excellency Majid Ali Al Mansouri, Secretary General of the Emirates Falconers’ Club.

First-ever UAE-India Awards celebrate a dynamic partnership

The first-ever UAE-India Awards, presented by UK-headquartered India Global Forum (IGF), mark the culmination of the week-long IGF UAE 2022 – a power-packed series themed around Partners for Global Impact. The UAE-India Awards at the stunning Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, The Palm, Dubai, on 15 December 2022 brought together a star-studded cast of VIP guests, celebrities and influential figures from the world of business, politics, and the arts for a premier black-tie evening celebrating the dynamic partnership between the UAE and India. It marks a celebration of the organisations and individuals working tirelessly to strengthen and energise the UAE-India partnership. H.E. Mariam Almheiri – UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment – lauded the India Global Forum for creating a high-powered platform to celebrate UAE-India ties. She said: “The UAE and India enjoy long-standing and cordial relations across multiple fronts and this Forum is making its mark in pushing our bilateral relations to a new level.“The UAE is committed to working with India in confronting international challenges across multiple sectors to achieve a balanced and sustainable global economic growth.” Celebrated British comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner set the tone for the glittering ceremony as the host of the evening, which included a special performance by popular singer-songwriter Sonna Rele. Professor Manoj Ladwa, IGF Founder & CEO, said: “The first-ever UAE-India Awards celebrate the special relationship between the two countries and the high achievers adding to the momentum behind our strengthening ties.“As the theme of IGF UAE reflects, the UAE and India are ideally suited ‘Partners for Global Impact’ and the awards are here to spotlight those working towards making that partnership truly impactful.” The UAE-India Awards 2022 Nominees & Categories are:Investment of the YearAdani, Emmar, LuluNew Market Entrant of the YearAllen Overseas, EaseMyTrip, Lenskart, VerseLegal Practice of the YearAshish Mehta & Associates, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Keystone Law, TrilegalBanking Organisation of the YearAxis Bank, Emirates NBD, HSBCBusiness Promotion Organisation of the YearDubai Chambers, FICCI, IBPCTechnology Company of the YearInfosys, TCS, Tech MahindraInvestor in Climate Action AwardEVage, Hero, OlaSocial Impact Project of the YearAster, Faizal & Shabana Foundation *The complete list can be found here. The winners have been chosen by an eminent UAE-India Awards 2022 Jury:H.E. Ambassador Dr Ahmed Al Banna, Former Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to IndiaNikhil Kamath, Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer, Zerodha & True BeaconZubin Jal Karkaria, Founder & CEO, VFS GlobalEman Abdulrazzaq, Group Chief Human Resource Officer, Emirates NBDSunil Kaushal, Regional CEO, Africa & Middle East, Standard Chartered Bank The awards gala brings the second UAE edition of India Global Forum to a close at the end of a high-power week of keynote addresses, fireside chats, roundtables and studio conversations, with senior ministers, business leaders, lawmakers and influential thought leaders covering diverse subjects from climate change to geopolitics, fintech innovations to greentech challenges. Some of the high-profile speakers over the course of the week included:Hon. Dr S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, Government of IndiaHon. Bhupendra Yadav, Minister of Labour & Employment and Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of IndiaHon. Sunjay Sudhir, Ambassador of India to UAE, Government of IndiaH.E. Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for AI, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, UAEH.E. Reem Bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, Government of UAEDr Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Skill Development, Entrepreneurship, Electronics and IT, Government of IndiaMichael Bloomberg, Founder, Bloomberg A full list of speakers can be accessed here at India Global Forum/ Speakers and to follow the sessions live or playback any missed sessions, Login Here (Free). For more information on the event and a full programme, click here.

WhatsApp unveils new features including 32-person calls

Meta has introduced new features for better connecting. This includes group calls.The following are the new features unveiled: 32-person calls: You can now start a video or voice call on your mobile device with up to 32 people — four times the previous amount.Message or mute participants: Long pressing on a participant will enlarge the video or audio feed and allow you to either mute or message them separately, while keeping the calls going.Call links: Whether you’re making a last-minute call or planning one ahead, you can easily invite people to a group call by sharing a call link.It has also made functional changes for a more seamless calling experience:Colorful waveforms: Now, you can easily see who is speaking if their camera is off.Picture in Picture on iOS: Now in beta testing and rolling out in 2023, easily multitask while on a call thanks to a minimized in-call video screen.“While WhatsApp is best known for bringing private and secure messaging to people across the world, more people are using it as a way to connect with voice and video calls. That’s why over the course of this year we’ve launched several improvements to calling on WhatsApp, for catching up with friends and family, colleagues and communities securely,” said the company.

World’s first international Digital Economy Court unveils new specialised rules,

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts today announced the launch of a new set of industry-first specialised Rules for its recently formed Digital Economy Court (DEC) Division.In addition, leading international judicial expertise has been recruited to oversee and operate the new Court’s cutting-edge digital infrastructure and service capabilities. Under Decree No. 29 of 2022, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, has appointed Justice Michael Black of England & Wales, who will oversee the Digital Economy Court Division.Following the announcement of the dedicated Division in 2021, a global panel of lawyers, led by Tom Montagu-Smith KC and Matthew Watson of 3VB Chambers, and industry experts, were tasked to draft and confirm new specialised Rules, which were also subject to a 30-day public consultation and finalised under the supervision of Justice Michael Black.Reviewed and approved by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, and President of the DIFC, the new ‘Part 58’ of the DIFC Courts Rules will facilitate the efficient and modern resolution of digital economy disputes, standardising the use of smart forms to provide information through a dynamic, artificial intelligence driven platform. In line with the Courts’ paperless mandate, cases will also be conducted using advanced digital systems to expedite service to parties and enforcement, with a view to reducing the environmental impact of court proceedings.In 2021, the DIFC Courts established the Digital Economy Court Division to oversee sophisticated national and transnational disputes related to current and emerging technologies across areas ranging from big data, blockchain, AI, fintech, and cloud services, to disputes also involving unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), 3D printing, and robotics.Justice Omar Al Mheiri, Director, DIFC Courts, said: “The DIFC Courts has continued its trajectory to provide Dubai, the UAE, and the world, with a suite of dispute resolution services that truly break through the barrier of traditional public court services. Businesses that can adapt to embrace the future digital economy will do so with the knowledge that there is a sophisticated yet efficient venue to support and protect the continuity of business projects.With the digital economy fast emerging as a prime accelerant of global business, these specialised Rules have been engineered to strengthen our mission of building a courts system that not only absorbs current dispute resolution needs but can flex to address and resolve new emerging disputes. This strategy has been further reinforced by ensuring we blend leading judicial expertise with innovative technological implementations.”In 2022, the DIFC Courts issued a judgment in the case of (1) Gate Mena DMCC (2) Huobi Mena FZE v (1) Tabarak Investment Capital Limited (2) Christian Thurner which related to one of the first cryptocurrency litigation disputes in the region and one of the few reported cases anywhere in the world which addresses issues such as the safe transfer of cryptocurrency between buyer and seller and the obligations owed by a custodian of cryptocurrency. This case gave rise to various other interesting questions such as the nature of Bitcoins, i.e., whether cryptocurrencies are considered commodities, currencies, properties, or something entirely different, and the appropriate time to value Bitcoins.From November 26 - 27, the DIFC Courts held a virtual Moot Court, inviting 18 teams of international law students and 25 qualified judges to hold a two-day competition to test-proof the new DEC Rules across a dispute involving cryptocurrency.