DEWA signs a partnership agreement for the 5th Gov Games

The Organising Committee of the Gov Games signed a partnership agreement with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) to be a Silver Sponsor for Gov Games for the fifth year in a row. The Gov Games, which is held under the directives of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, has become one of the most prominent team-building events within the sports agenda in Dubai. This year’s edition will be held from 29 February to 3 March 2024."With the directives and support of the top management, we are pleased that DEWA is the Silver Sponsor of the Gov Games for the fifth year in a row. The Gov Games has become one of the key sports events in Dubai, playing an integral role in strengthening relationships among local government entities and their regional and international peers. This sponsorship is part of DEWA’s social responsibility to encourage employees and society members to adopt a healthy lifestyle and make sports an essential part of their lives, as well as supporting positive competitiveness among participants, within the framework of the sporting spirit that characterises sports events held in Dubai," said Dr. Yousef Al Akraf, Executive Vice President of Business Support and Human Resources at DEWA and Chairman of DEWA’s Sports Committee.Active partnership“DEWA has always participated effectively in supporting the activities and events that foster a healthy lifestyle, while focusing on enhancing cultural cohesion and instilling the values of teamwork and respect among teams. The goal is to ensure a brighter and more sustainable future for the current and future generations. As such, we are pleased with DEWA’s active support for the Gov Games for the fifth year in a row, to ensure a successful and distinguished edition of the event for all participating teams,” said Marwan bin Issa, Director of Gov Games.Various categoriesGov Games 2024 is held in partnership with DP World as an Official Partner and Emirates General Petroleum Corporation (Emarat) and Damac Properties as Golden Sponsors. This year’s edition will see the participation of junior participants, as was announced last year. This addition aims to foster strategic thinking, teamwork, and mental and physical strength. Participants will undergo an enriching experience that enhances their character and motivates them to improve themselves.The first four editions of Gov Games saw widespread local, regional, and international participation, with over 4,500 participations in the Battle of the Government, Battle of the Community, and Battle of the Cities categories.

General Motors’ OnStar launches in Saudi Arabia

As part of its ongoing commitment to provide leading connectivity, safety and entertainment solutions to its customers, General Motors (GM) has launched its pioneering in-vehicle technology, OnStar Connected Services, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. OnStar sets a new benchmark with the widest range of convenience and connectivity across Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac vehicles. OnStar also offers elevated safety and security services, allowing for a suite of innovative offerings to GM customers.Saudi Arabia is championing widespread digitalization, aligned with its Vision 2030 to drive modernization, underpinned by innovative technology, while also making significant progress in addressing its traffic safety development through legislative and policy changes. The launch aligns with the nation’s efforts to improve its digital landscape by feeding into enhanced connectivity within mobility as an ongoing focus.“Launching OnStar in the Kingdom is a milestone in General Motors’ journey towards a world with Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions and Zero Congestion. We are honored to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s future as it progresses towards its Vision 2030. OnStar Connected Services debut across the Kingdom lays a cornerstone for General Motors’ journey towards its vision of an Electric, Connected and Autonomous future. We envision a fully connected future, which the launch of OnStar actively contributes to.” said Luis De La Cruz, Managing Director for OnStar at General Motors Africa and Middle East.OnStar is leading the way with the connected car. Through its Connect and Protect plans, Members can access features on OnStar enabled Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac vehicles. OnStar’s ‘Connect’ plan include user friendly functions to elevate the driving experience such as remote commands, vehicle status checks, on demand diagnostics, connected navigation, destination download as well as 24/7 support from specially trained OnStar Advisors.In addition to this, OnStar’s ‘Protect’ plan ensures the safety and security of drivers remains a fundamental priority. For example, through services such as Automatic Crash Response, OnStar can assist in the event of an emergency, even if the driver can’t ask for help themselves. In addition, OnStar supports with detecting accidents, vehicles being stolen and even misplaced keys, striving to be there for drivers in such instances for added peace of mind.The launch of OnStar Connected Services in Saudi Arabia is thanks to collaborative efforts with the CST and stc - a testament to the invaluable collaboration to advance solutions that add value and convenience to consumers and road users.Raed Alfayez, Deputy Governor for IT & ET Sector at Communications, Space and Technology Commission in Saudi Arabia commented, "As per CST’s mandate to regulate the technology sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Internet of Thing (IoT) is one of many pivotal technologies that CST pays a close attention to in order to ensure an innovation and attractive landscape for all players involved. The connected vehicles services is one of the most important IoT use cases that is going to positively impact the people’s quality of life. CST is proactively working with a broad range of private sector stakeholders, such as OnStar, to promote the emerging technologies-based products and solutions in all sectors including the transportation and logistics sector. CST looks forward to continuing working closely with the connected vehicles providers to provide the best services in Saudi Arabia as well as in the region”.Saud A. Alsheraihi, vice president of products and solutions in enterprise, at the Saudi Telecommunication Company commented, “At stc Group, we strive to drive best in-class communication services in collaboration with our partners, providing comprehensive solutions by leveraging stc’s leading network and digital channels. The OnStar partnership marks the evolution of Connected Car services in Saudi Arabia. Our offering, in conjunction with GM's OnStar services, will advance customer-centric vehicle connectivity. Working with GM not only enhances stc’s growth strategy but also strengthens our efforts to expand our digital infrastructure, in line with the national vision.”Owners of OnStar equipped Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac vehicles can activate OnStar Connected Services by pressing the OnStar Blue Button in their vehicles to access services in the Kingdom or reach out to their dealership.GM owners can unlock and enjoy free Standard Connectivity for 10 years with benefits like Diagnostic Alerts, Monthly Diagnostic Reports, Dealer Maintenance notifications, Smart Driver and Vehicle Software Updates Over-the-air (as applicable). GM owners can also benefit and enjoy the innovative services that personalize and maximize their ownership experience by subscribing for as low as 109 SAR per month for the Connect Plan or Protect Plan, else opt for the bundle offering at SAR 165. Designed for the way you live and drive, the mobile apps? helps you control your vehicle from anywhere and turn it into a connected marvel. Once activated, Members can enjoy a free trial period of up to two months of the bundle plan.With a regional based contact center, customers can be assured that an OnStar Advisor? is available 24/7 at the push of a button, able to converse in English and Arabic, and be there to assist Members. OnStar will continue to develop its connectivity, entertainment and safety offerings, enhancing Member experiences as they engage with the subscription services.

Amundi appoints Bekhazi to deepen institutional relationships in the Middle East

Amundi, the leading European asset manager, with over $2 trillion* in assets under management, has hired Michelle Bekhazi CFA as Senior Vice President, Institutional Sales, to oversee its institutional relationships across the Middle East.Bekhazi joins Amundi Asset Management in Dubai, where she previously held institutional sales and investor relations roles for companies including Principal Asset Management, Introspect Capital, and State Street Global Advisors. In June last year she became a Board Member of the CFA Society Emirates.“We are delighted to have Michelle join us at this exciting time for Amundi in the Middle East as we expand from our office to 12 professionals in DIFC,” said Ziad Sikias, CEO for the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia at Amundi Asset Management. “Our clients expect strong investment returns and world class service, and Michelle will ensure that our relationships with key institutional partners continue to go from strength to strength.”

Network International appoints Jamal Al Nassai as Group MD for Merchant Services

Network International (Network), the leading enabler of digital commerce across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, has strengthened its senior management profile with the appointment of Jamal Al Nassai as Group Managing Director for Merchant Services – Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In this role he will be responsible for strategic planning and execution, business development and value propositions for Merchant and Government Partners across all the Group’s MENA markets.Nandan Mer, Group CEO of Network International, said, “We are pleased to have exceptionally talented and proven leaders like Jamal join our executive bench sharing his depth of knowledge and expertise to further empower Network’s vision to become the largest, fastest growing, and the most innovative payments enabler in the Middle East and Africa. In this new role, Jamal will further underscore our commitment to enhancing Network’s presence and achieving further milestones as we accelerate product innovation and time-to-market for our customers, enabling them to achieve their goals.”Jamal has an impressive track record, having accomplished 18 years of service at Network in various leadership roles spanning the entire payments value chain and customer journey. He has rich and diverse expertise across business, technology, governance, regulatory compliance, and operations.Jamal Al Nassai, Group Managing Director for Merchant Services – Middle East and North Africa, commented: “I have had a long association with Network International and am delighted to further enhance Network’s position as it embarks on the next phase of growth in digital payments. I look forward to working alongside our valued merchants and government partners across the MENA markets and supporting them in the fast-changing payments landscape with superior payments technology.”Network has been instrumental in driving digital payments acceptance and broader financial inclusion in Africa and the Middle East, offering end-to-end payment solutions to a growing customer base in more than 50 countries.

Current Global MENAT joins PRCA MENA as a Corporate Member

The Public Relations and Communications Association in the Middle East and North Africa (PRCA MENA) has today announced the multi-disciplined creative communications agency Current Global MENAT, as its latest corporate member.Current Global MENAT combines the global reach, strategic thinking and capabilities of a global agency with the attitude, speed and passion of a small agency. The agency believes in human-first communications guiding how it works, defining the kind of work that it delivers, and how it thinks about communications.With a global presence in key regions such as APAC, EMEA, North America, LATAM, and MENAT Current Global is at the forefront of championing accessible communications. Its ‘Accessible by Design’ offer is an agency-wide commitment that every piece of communication it develops, curates, and publishes will meet the highest accessibility standards.Current Global is part of the Weber Shandwick Collective, a network of specialist creative, marketing, communications and consulting firms built for the convergence of society, media, sustainability, policy and technology, within the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG).Head of PRCA EMEA, Monika Fourneaux said:"We are delighted to announce the inclusion of Current Global as a valued member of PRCA MENA. The agency's global perspective, coupled with its diverse communication capabilities, is set to play a pivotal role in enhancing the dynamic exchange of ideas within our esteemed community. We look forward to the expertise and experiences that Current Global brings, enhancing our collective conversations with valuable perspectives and innovative approach.”Peter Jacob, Managing Director, Current Global MENAT said:“Just over a year since we hied our first full-time employee we’ve had a tremendous start delivering some of the regions most talked about campaigns. We are driven by an unwavering belief in the power of human-first communications and we look forward to playing our role within the PRCA to champion an earned-first mindset and the wider importance of the communications industry across this dynamic and diverse region.”

BPG expands and integrated offering with internal promotions and new hires

Award-winning, integrated agency BPG (Bates PanGulf, part of WPP) has announced several senior-level appointments to drive its regional growth and substantial new business wins. The internal promotions and new hires are across the agency’s comms, media, and creative teams. With these investments in talent, BPG has grown its talent pool in the UAE by 45%.Spearheading the agency’s momentum on integration are former Business Director Benjamin Schwartz who has now been promoted to VP, Client Services and former Senior Business Director Mara Carpencu Pop, now promoted to VP, Communications Services.An advertising professional with 14+ years of experience in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, Ben has previously worked at global network agencies (BBDO, TBWA, Ogilvy) on global brands such as Nestle, Lenovo, PepsiCo and Ford. Mara brings 15 years of all-round experience in PR and MarComm to her role and has led integrated communications campaigns for global and regional clients, across tech, business solutions, telecom, travel, real estate and consumer brands.BPG’s newly promoted Creative Directors Aaron Leung, Ahmad Al Otaibi and Nicolaas Van Der Merwe collectively bring decades of regional expertise to their roles, having worked on accounts like Porsche, HSBC, Nike, Harvey Nichols, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Toyota, Ford and more, as well as regional powerhouse brands such as NEOM, FAB, Aldar, E&, and Government of Dubai.Within BPG’s Client Servicing team, Sarah Rizvi has been promoted to Account Director. BPG’s newly promoted Account Managers include Avanthika Sivakumar, Oliver Harb and Sriyaa Shah. In the Comms team, Stanislava Burianek has been promoted to Senior Account Director and Iman Fathi Dawod to Senior Account Manager.Avi Bhojani, Group CEO, BPG said: “BPG has clocked up exceptional growth numbers in recent years, energized by its ‘Integrated by Intent’ positioning and customer-centric culture. This growth is driven by our people, who are our greatest strength, and we will continue to invest and reward our talent, coupled in the unique Culture at BPG, that empowers talent and enables them to take complete ownership, within a broad framework that is consistent with BPG’s offering. I cannot be prouder to lead TeamBPG into the next stage of our evolution, confident that we will leverage our creativity, knowledge, and more than four decades of regional expertise to deliver exciting outcomes for our clients.”Darius LaBelle, President, BPG UAE said: “BPG has opened January 2024 by securing several high-profile clients and unique mandates across sectors including automotive, culture, F&B and finance. A solid pipeline of existing business supplemented by exciting new business wins testify to the success of BPG’s ‘CX first, integrated by intent’ positioning. We look forward to our newly promoted team members defining future growth and evolution in our product and our culture, shaping a year of breakthroughs and boundless possibilities.”

Netflix to Become New Home of WWE 'Raw' Beginning 2025

WWE, part of TKO Group Holdings, Inc., and Netflix today announced a long-term partnership that will bring WWE’s flagship weekly program – Raw – to the world’s leading entertainment service. This marks a major programming shift as Raw leaves linear television for the first time since its inception 31 years ago.  Beginning in January 2025, Netflix will be the exclusive new home of Raw in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Latin America, among other territories, with additional countries and regions to be added over time. Likewise, as part of the agreement, Netflix will also become the home for all WWE shows and specials outside the U.S. as available, inclusive of Raw and WWE’s other weekly shows – SmackDown and NXT – as well as the company’s Premium Live Events, including WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Royal Rumble. WWE’s award-winning documentaries, original series and forthcoming projects will also be available on Netflix internationally beginning in 2025.  “This deal is transformative,” said Mark Shapiro, TKO President and COO. “It marries the can’t-miss WWE product with Netflix’s extraordinary global reach and locks in significant and predictable economics for many years. Our partnership fundamentally alters and strengthens the media landscape, dramatically expands the reach of WWE, and brings weekly live appointment viewing to Netflix.” “We are excited to have WWE Raw, with its huge and passionate multigenerational fan base, on Netflix,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer, Bela Bajaria. “By combining our reach, recommendations, and fandom with WWE, we’ll be able to deliver more joy and value for their audiences and our members. Raw is the best of sports entertainment, blending great characters and storytelling with live action 52 weeks a year and we’re thrilled to be in this long-term partnership with WWE.” “In its relatively short history, Netflix has engineered a phenomenal track record for storytelling,” said Nick Khan, WWE President. “We believe Netflix, as one of the world’s leading entertainment brands, is the ideal long-term home for Raw’s live, loyal, and ever-growing fan base." With 1600 episodes to date, Raw is the most iconic show in sports entertainment. Since its debut in 1993, Raw has delivered action, compelling drama and unmatched athleticism – 52 weeks a year. Blending the best of scripted content with unpredictable live entertainment, the three-hour show has helped launch the careers of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Triple  H, John Cena, Roman Reigns, Bianca Belair and Charlotte Flair.  The show is currently the No. 1 show on USA Network, where it brings in 17.5 million unique viewers over the course of the year. One of television’s best performing shows in the 18-49 advertising demographic, Raw trends on X 52 weeks a year while each new episode is airing. On social media, WWE has more than one billion followers across its platforms.

Kekst CNC plants the flag in Riyadh, poised for growth in KSA

Kekst CNC, the global communications powerhouse part of Publicis Groupe, has opened its doors in Riyadh, the heart of Saudi Arabia. This strategic move, nearly a decade in the making, marks a critical step in the firm's expansion across the Middle East and a deep commitment to the booming Kingdom.Ben Curson, (pictured above), Partner and Head of the Middle East for Kekst CNC, sees this as a natural progression, driven by their exceptional track record and in-demand expertise. “Opening our first Saudi office is an exciting step for Kekst CNC, as our track record and international insights and experience are driving demand for our strategic communications offer," says Curson. Leading the charge in Riyadh is seasoned comms veteran Robert Hanvik, with over 37 years of experience navigating the complexities of international communication. His knowledge of the GCC and extensive network, encompassing more than a dozen KSA ministries and leading Saudi companies, promises unparalleled local insight and impact.Joining him is Elena Riva, a senior consultant with expertise in navigating diverse geopolitical landscapes. Her proficiency in crafting national branding campaigns, managing crisis scenarios, and implementing strategic communication plans across sectors adds further depth to the Riyadh team.The Riyadh office boasts a comprehensive suite of communication services, offering in-Kingdom and regional clients tailor-made solutions for corporate positioning, media relations, thought leadership, risk assessment, and crisis response. To ensure seamless execution, Kekst CNC KSA has also established a robust network of local partnerships.With 14 offices around the globe, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and now Riyadh, Kekst CNC's footprint continues to expand. This Saudi Arabian venture, however, signals a deeper commitment to the region's dynamic transformation and the potential it holds. As Curson concludes: "Under Robert’s leadership, we look forward to contributing to the development of the local economy, developing local partnerships and nurturing the next generation of business leaders in the region."

PIF creates new Electric 360 partnership with Formula E

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) today unveiled a multi-year partnership, Electric 360, with Formula E, Extreme E and E1 to support the growth of electric motor sports and their role in advancing the future of electric mobility.The new partnership will draw together initiatives that underscore the power of electric motor sports to drive technological innovation, and revolutionize sustainable transport and future mobility – while leading the way in carbon reduction. PIF today also announced the launch of its new brand revamp, which captures PIF’s heritage and essence and embodies its commitment to progress and growth in driving transformation at a historical scale. The new identity will be used at all PIF partnership events, including E360 events, throughout 2024 and beyond. PIF is ranked by Global SWF as one of the top sovereign wealth funds in the world and number 1 in the Middle East for Sustainability among the top 100 sovereign wealth funds globally. The E360 collaboration is in line with PIF’s broader sponsorship platform, bringing to life the brand’s ambition with a focus on four pillars: inclusivity, sustainability, youth, and technology. The partnership announced today will also promote educational opportunities tied to the cutting-edge engineering of electric motor sports, as well as community, social programs and environmental stewardship.With PIF as the sole principal partner to span all three series, this initiative will directly facilitate and accelerate the delivery of:- PIF Electric 360 thought leadership events, bringing together leading industry experts with the brightest minds to drive sustainable mobility change;- STEM initiatives globally to coincide with each championship series; and- Community apprenticeship programs with industry partners in each championship.The partnership will support the mission-driven objectives of all three series by enhancing Formula E's proven race-to-road transfer model and reinforcing its position as the world’s most sustainable sport, enabling Extreme E to forge new frontiers and spearheading E1’s revolutionary drive around marine mobility. This partnership not only benefits each championship in its own right, but also underlines the commitment of all parties to drive technological innovation and sustainable solutions.Alejandro Agag, Founder and Chairman of Formula E, Extreme E and E1 said: “This one-of-a-kind partnership with PIF is a huge milestone for us in our journey to pioneer the most cutting-edge sustainable transport technology. With so many examples of the positive real-world impact of each series, this 360-partnership takes our potential to the next level. PIF will not only play a strategic role in helping us leverage our unique technological platforms, but also foster global collaboration, education and skills development for the next generation worldwide.”Mohamed AlSayyad, Head of Corporate Brand at PIF, said: “At PIF, we believe in the power of partnerships, investing in innovative collaborations as part of our focus on ‘Investing in Better.’ These partnerships will enhance the quality of life for people, provide opportunities for the communities we serve, and help continue our work as a catalyst for transformation. “Together with these championship series, Electric 360 will redefine electric sport and supercharge its growth, delivering tangible impact aligned with our broader business strategy as PIF drives new green technological innovation that will be the cornerstone of future electric mobility.”

Creative agency Grey wins Krispy Kreme account in MENA

Krispy Kreme has chosen Grey Dubai as its official strategy and creative partner in the MENA region. This means Grey will be crafting all the irresistible communications across seven countries: the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, KSA, Kuwait, and Jordan.But this isn't just about sprinkling sprinkles and frosting on sugary dough. Grey's mission is to solidify Krispy Kreme's "Irresistibly Original Sweet Treat" positioning, making their donuts even more tempting than that hot light ever could."HOT NOW is what's happening in the coming together of Krispy Kreme and Grey," declares Philippe Berthelot, Managing Director of Grey Dubai. "We're excited to be leading this decidedly delicious brand and looking forward to being a key partner in delivering the ambitious goals of Krispy Kreme across the region."This strategic partnership comes just after VML (the mega-merger of Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R) secured the global creative account for Krispy Kreme. However, Grey's focus remains strictly on the MENA region, ensuring local voices and cultural nuances are infused into every campaign.

Shamlal Ahamed on how Malabar Gold & Diamonds struck gold in Middle East

Malabar Gold & Diamonds is the flagship company of Malabar Group, a leading Indian business conglomerate. Established in 1993 in Kerala, it has grown into a global jewellery retailer with over 330 outlets in 12 countries. The company has a significant international presence, with branches in India, the Middle East, Far East, the USA, and Canada. Malabar Gold & Diamonds has 14 manufacturing units in India and the GCC, producing high-quality jewellry. The company offers 12 exclusive jewellery brands catering to various customer preferences.In an exclusive Interview with Adgully Middle East, Shamlal Ahamed, MD-International Operations, Malabar Gold & Diamonds, shares how the brand has emerged in the Middle Eastern market. He delves deeper into the strategies as well as the innovations that the brand has done for their consumers in the region.Can you provide an overview of Malabar Gold & Diamonds' current market presence in the Middle East? Are there any specific strategies or initiatives that have contributed to your success in the Middle East?We have a robust retail presence in the Middle East with over 122 showrooms across the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.The Middle East jewellery market is an extremely vibrant one with diversified demand spectrum including occasion as well as non-occasion-based purchases, gifting and self-purchases. The region is a global melting pot as well. Keeping these elements in mind, we always adopt a diverse product and policy strategy to cater to a varied range of customers.Our initiatives include tailored offerings to match the cultural preferences of each market, ensuring a seamless blend of tradition and innovation. Additionally, our focus on delivering exceptional customer service and maintaining the highest standards of craftsmanship has fostered trust and loyalty among our clientele. These strategies are delivering results in the Middle East.What trends are you observing in consumer behaviour within the Middle East market, particularly in the jewellery and luxury goods sector?We are witnessing a strong inclination towards personalized and customized pieces, where consumers seek superior design and high-quality finishes. Be it a unique, one-off creation or a custom-designed piece reflecting individual style, there is a growing expectation for the highest standards of quality, craftsmanship, and attention to detail. Diamond jewellery and solitaire jewellery has also seen a rise in demand, especially amongst the millennial and Gen Z population.From a design point-of-view, there is an equal preference for both traditional and modern designs. They have grown accustomed to and are very receptive to global jewellery styles, seeking the latest designs in the market, be it for occasional use or daily wear.Notably, we are attuned to the growing trend of sustainability and ethical choices, exemplified by our association with Randpure Refinery in South Africa, to procure 100% traceable, RandPure Gold. This commitment reflects our dedication to ethical sourcing and positions us at the forefront of an ever-evolving industry landscape.Can you highlight any recent product innovations or launches that have been well-received in the Middle East?Throughout the 30-year journey of Malabar Gold & Diamonds, we have always made it a point to seamlessly blend customer-centric policies into our operations, contributing to a more versatile and transparent jewellery sector. It is a well-known fact that natural diamonds have been growing in popularity amongst the masses over the past few years. However, with a significant portion of our customer base being value-conscious jewellery buyers, the one thing that held them back from indulging more into the valued gem was its low exchange/buyback value in comparison to gold. In an effort to bridge this gap between aspiration and reality, we recently introduced the ‘100% Value on Diamond Exchange’ across our showrooms internationally.This policy change created waves in the market, with even ardent gold buyers gravitating towards diamonds, considering it not only a beautiful adornment, but as an asset having an investment value on par with gold.Amongst the numerous collection launches that we carry out every year to meet the varying preferences of our immense customer base, some of the ranges that received rave reviews and enquiries from jewellery lovers were Noor Collection & Bella collection in gold jewellery and Enigma collection & Blush collection in the diamond category.How does Malabar Gold & Diamonds stay ahead of the curve in terms of design and product offerings to meet the diverse tastes of the Middle Eastern consumer?We keep enriching our designs and product offerings by seamlessly blending cultural sensitivity with innovation, meeting the diverse tastes of the consumers in the Middle East. Our design philosophy creates a melange of global trends with the rich cultural heritage of the diverse diaspora that resides in the region, ensuring our jewellery reflects individuality and resonates with the valued preferences of our clientele. With wedding jewellery making up a significant portion of jewellery purchase, region-specific bridal jewellery collections are also introduced into the market every year.Through active engagement with customers via feedback and a keen awareness of emerging trends, we swiftly adapt to changing preferences, providing collections with a fresh perspective. Our commitment extends beyond just offering exquisite designs; it's about curating an experience that caters to the varied lifestyles and tastes of the customers in the Middle East.With the rise of e-commerce, how has Malabar Gold & Diamonds embraced digital platforms in the Middle East? Are there specific technological advancements or digital strategies that have proven successful in engaging customers in the region?Malabar Gold & Diamonds has consistently demonstrated a commitment to adapt its operations and practices to the evolving technological and business landscape. To enhance overall efficiency and provide exceptional and differentiated service to our customers, we have embarked on a journey of technological advancement, transforming into a technology-driven organisation with omnichannel retail capability. To achieve this, we are actively working with renowned global technology giants such as Microsoft, IBM, Accenture, E&Y, and Deloitte.Looking ahead, what are the company's growth projections and strategic priorities for the Middle East market?While Malabar Gold & Diamonds has a robust and successful presence across the Middle East, the region has been undergoing a stellar economic transformation in recent years. This directly translates to a significant potential for growth and expansion in the Middle East. The ambitious expansion plan that we have charted for the region involves strengthening our presence in existing regions with the launch of more showrooms as well as expanding our presence to new territories.

Bisleri enters UAE market with exciting sports associations

One of India's leading packaged drinking water brand, Bisleri has recently launched in the UAE across major modern format retail chains, general trade outlets and restaurants and cafes. In the past year, Bisleri has collaborated with some of the biggest sporting events and franchises in India as hydration partners. With the same strategy for UAE, Bisleri has forged tie-ups with Dubai Marathon, Sharjah Warriors, Dubai Capitals, MI Emirates, Gulf Giants, and Abu Dhabi Knight Riders.Commenting on the association, Tushar Malhotra, Head of Marketing, Bisleri International Pvt. Ltd., said, "We are delighted to start our foray into the UAE with sporting associations such as the iconic Dubai Marathon and partnering with some of the most exciting teams - Sharjah Warriors, Dubai Capitals, MI Emirates, Gulf Giants, and Abu Dhabi Knight Riders. This is in continuation of the robust sports marketing programme which we have built in India that has been very successful in strengthening the connect between Bisleri, hydration and sports as we endeavour to promote a fit and healthier lifestyle for our consumers.”As the official Hydration Partner, Bisleri will play a vital role in ensuring the players and consumers stay hydrated throughout the sporting events. The association will be further amplified with on ground branding presence and visibility, consumer experiences and exciting digital content with partner teams and events.

Unifonic partners with MoEngage

Unifonic, the leading omnichannel customer engagement platform in the Middle East and MoEngage, the leading insights-led customer engagement platform, have announced their strategic partnership. With this partnership, Unifonic will now be a part of the MoEngage Catalyst Partner program that aims at helping brands scale at speed.This partnership is a significant milestone towards enhancing and providing a comprehensive end-to-end customer engagement solution to brands in the Middle East.The partnership signifies a commitment to the Middle East market, where there is immense potential for growth and innovation. With the combined capabilities, Unifonic and MoEngage will be able to deliver cutting-edge solutions that empower businesses in the region to drive digital transformation and excel in customer engagement.Unifonic streamlines conversations at every touchpoint throughout the customer journey by unifying communication channels, messaging apps, and chatbots on one simple-to-use platform. MoEngage, on the other hand, specializes in AI-powered, insights-led customer engagement, facilitating data-driven personalized experiences.Together, the strategic partnership will help drive:Enhanced Customer Engagement: The partnership will focus on creating more comprehensive and personalized customer engagement solutions. By leveraging Unifonic's communication soutions and MoEngage's state-of-the-art marketing automation, businesses can engage with their customers in a more meaningful and effective manner.Digital Transformation: Support businesses in the Middle East on their journey towards digital transformation and provide the tools and expertise needed to adapt to the changing landscape of customer interactions and preferences.Seamless communication and integration strategies- The holistic suite of services will drive more meaningful end-consumer experiences. “We at MoEngage recognize the immense potential that consumer businesses in the Middle East region present and are excited at the prospect of helping out such brands with the right insights and customer understanding. We are delighted to onboard Unifonic to our ever-expanding Catalyst Partner ecosystem. Through our combined expertise, we aim to help brands orchestrate AI-powered, hyper-personalized journeys across their end-consumers lifecycle by unifying all communication channels and driving consistent engagement,’ said Raviteja Dodda, CEO and Co-Founder of MoEngage.“Our partnership with MoEngage provides innovative communication solutions to businesses, enabling fast, reliable, and personalized engagement with customers across multiple digital touchpoints. MoEngage's insights enable us to customize communication strategies, while our platform ensures the secure, AI-powered delivery of personalized conversations across channels. This combination improves customer experiences, drives business growth, and reflects our dedication to delivering cutting-edge technology and unmatched value for our customers.” said Ahmed Hamdan, CEO and Co-Founder of Unifonic.

A2Z Media collaborates with Gulf International Bank, GIB Capital

Digital marketing consultancy A2Z Media has collaborated with Gulf International Bank (GIB) and GIB Capital, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This partnership seems to be focused on leveraging digital marketing strategies to enhance the online presence of these financial entities.The comprehensive suite of digital marketing services offered by A2Z Media, including social media management (SMM), community management, content management, photography, and videography, suggests a holistic approach to building and maintaining a strong digital presence. These services can play a crucial role in shaping the way GIB and GIB Capital engage with their audience, showcase their innovative financial solutions, and stay ahead in the competitive financial industry.The shared vision and commitment to innovation and excellence in this alliance demonstrate a strategic alignment between A2Z Media and GIB and GIB Capital. The collaboration aims to transform the digital landscape in the financial sector, reflecting a dedication to modernization and customer engagement.This partnership is likely to contribute significantly to both A2Z Media's expertise in digital marketing and GIB and GIB Capital's forward-thinking strategies. As they work together, they have the potential to make a substantial impact on how the financial industry communicates and connects with its audience in the digital realm.

Yango supports football fans and local talents during Africa’s biggest Festival

Yango, an international tech company and one of the leading ride-hailing services in Africa, is not standing on the sidelines of this African football celebration ongoing in Côte d'Ivoire.  Football unites different nations and people. This championship is not only a celebration of football in Africa, but also a competition of national teams. To show its support and enhance the journey of the fans, Yango has produced an anthem for a regional campaign “Ride the moment” dedicated to the event. The YANGOOOAL song was written by artists Shado Chris and Paulo Chakal. The campaign is accompanied by a challenge open to everyone on social media. By making a video to this song to show their love for African football, fans can try to win tickets for the semi-finals, 3rd place play-off and the final match of the competition scheduled for 11 February. Fans across Africa can share great experiences and special moments and post the video on social networks using the hashtag #yangoooal.Soro Kadotien, Country Director of Yango Côte d'Ivoire, said: ‘‘Yango is happy to be part of the party and what better way to celebrate than with good music. We hope that a massive number of football fans will take part in this competition and give themselves a chance to experience the final matches in person. He added, ‘We're delighted to offer the best affordable, safe and convenient mobility solution during this great celebration of football. It's truly the moments that propel us forward. Whether it's moments with loved ones, new experiences, emotions, or achievements. We hope with this contribution, to amplify football fans' excitement, support this celebration by choosing fans who will create a video showcasing football and share their emotions. Yango reaffirms its attachment to Africa, where the company has succeeded in establishing itself as one of the leaders in tech that transforms global sourced technologies into everyday services for local enrichment.'’ One of the songwriters, Shado Chris said: “We are proud that Ivory Coast is hosting this championship and to share this song with all fans. We are delighted to have been selected to work on this project by the Yango team trying to unite countries and fans across Africa by sharing Yangoooal beats and lyrics. Yango is a major international company demonstrating its closeness and support to the people of Africa. We are sure the party will be great with this beautiful song.” Yango invites football enthusiasts to celebrate their love for the game while riding every moment with Yango. To enter the 'Yango Anthem' contest:- Create a video showcasing football passion with Yango, set to the 'Yangoooal' song.- Share video on social media using #yangoooal - Accumulate the most views by February 3rd to win exclusive prizes. Prizes include match tickets for and VIP experiences in African countries to watch the finals.  In addition, Yango is putting in place a variety of activation events across the continent to enhance the unforgettable sports festival experience for fans, reinforcing its dedication to safety, affordability and accessibility across Africa.

Winter Split of Amazon UNIVERSITY Esports concludes in UAE

Amazon UNIVERSITY Esports has concluded its Winter Split Competition of the 2022/23 season, with more than 1,300 students from over 50 universities participating in the competition for a grand total prize pool of 12,500 dollars. Students have taken part every week in a spirit of community and competition to determine the top teams in a range of games including League of Legends, VALORANT, Rocket League, Overwatch 2, Rainbow Six Siege, FIFA 24 and Super Smash Bros.In addition to video game competitions, the project includes in-person and educational activities and provides students with the opportunity to take their first steps into this rapidly growing industry professionally. The full list of winnersIn Riot Games’ titles, the team ‘Kamikaze UAE’, won the League of Legends finals, comprised of students from Rochester Institute of Technology Dubai, Higher Colleges of Technology, United Arab Emirates University, and the American University of Sharjah. In VALORANT, ‘PifthePaf’ triumphed in the finals, with students from Rabdan Academy, Ajman University, Heriot-Watt University, University of Wollongong in Dubai and Zayed University.Both winning and finalist teams will represent the UAE in the Amazon UNIVERSITY Esports Masters MENA Series. This live event brings together the best university teams from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco to compete for the regional championship.Community tournaments for Rocket League, Overwatch 2, Rainbow Six Siege, FC 24, and Super Smash Bros were also organized. From virtual to on-siteAmazon UNIVERSITY Esports is not just an online gaming competition, it is also committed to reaching today’s youth, by hosting the UNIVERSITY Tour. This face-to-face event aims to introduce young people to the esports ecosystem.For the second consecutive season, the UNIVERSITY Tour is being held in the UAE. The Tour visited the Canadian University Dubai and the University of Wollongong in Dubai during the first split, where students could learn more about the competition. During the second split, the tour will visit more universities across the country.  Rise of Esports in UAE Amazon UNIVERSITY Esports and MENA Tech have seen the potential in the UAE’s gaming and esports industry. In 2022, it defied global gaming revenue trends by registering a 6% growth in the MENA region, totalling $6.8 billion.Partly driven by the Middle East's predominantly young population, the gaming surge in the UAE is notable, with nine out of 10 adults being gamers — the highest rate globally — and 23% engaging in gaming for over 11 hours weekly. With government initiatives like ADGaming in Abu Dhabi, the capital city alone already hosts over 70 game developers and esports teams, with projections for considerable growth soon. Supporting the student esports communityAmazon UNIVERSITY Esports is made possible thanks to the support of top-level publishers such as Riot Games, Ubisoft, Shahid and Deliveroo.

Ford Middle East promotes Ravi Ravichandran to President

Ford Middle East has begun 2024 with the appointment of Ravi Ravichandran as President as it gears up to deliver reimagined customer experiences, launch exciting new vehicles, sustain brands and sales growth, and lay the groundwork for bringing its electric vehicles to the region starting 2025.Ravichandran takes on his new responsibility after three years as Executive Director – Middle East Operations for Ford International Markets Group (IMG) – a role in which he was responsible for the growth and profitability of the Ford and Lincoln brands with its distributor partners across the Middle East.Ravichandran brings more than two decades of experience in the automotive industry. He joined Ford Motor Company in 1997 and during his tenure has held various positions in marketing and sales, strategy and finance, and manufacturing operations in India, China, and Middle East and Africa markets.“The automotive industry in the Middle East is expected to continue its steady growth into 2024, driven by increasing consumer demand for vehicles, easing supply-side disruptions, economic growth in the region, and government initiatives to promote the automotive sector, especially in Saudi Arabia,” said Ravichandran.Ford Middle East aims to build on the impressive platform built in 2023, which saw year-on-year sales up 70%, to develop into one of the region’s most desired automotive brands.Ravichandran has promoted Sami Malkawi and Pedro Simões to new, more senior and expended positions at Ford Middle East.Following seven years with Lincoln Middle East – the past two and a half as Managing Director – Malkawi is now Ford and Lincoln Managing Director, Sales Operations in the Middle East.With 15 years of automotive experience spanning sales, marketing, connectivity, distribution development, P&L, and customer service, Malkawi brings a strategic, solutions-oriented approach to his new role, in which he aims to expand Ford and Lincoln’s market reach across the region.As managing director for both automotive brands, Malkawi will focus on strengthening relationships with distributors and partners, working with the former to optimize sales and marketing efforts, while supporting with comprehensive training. “Having done the Lincoln role, I am already acquainted with our distributor network on a deeper level, which allows us to immediately kick off our business priorities,” he said.He will also work closely with Ford Middle East’s customer experience team to enhance satisfaction and loyalty by innovating new customer-centric initiatives.Meanwhile, Simões takes on an expanded role as Director of Ford and Lincoln Marketing, Commercial Vehicles, and Fleet, following a decade of brand and product marketing experience working with passenger vehicles, SUVs, and commercial vehicles – the past three years of which he has served as Marketing Director at Ford Middle East.Simões said Ford’s brand perception has been on an upward trajectory, and the company plans to maintain its steady growth through 2024. “On one side, we have an amazing lineup of must-have exciting products, maybe the best ever, and we will continue to invest in refreshing them. Additionally, to address the increased customer demand, we will be adding soon more electrification to our product range, expanding the offering available to our customers.As Ford Middle East embarks on this journey, these leadership changes set the stage for an exciting future, building on the successes of 2023 and steering towards new horizons in the dynamic Middle East automotive landscape.Looking beyond 2024, the company recently broke ground at the site of the upcoming DB Schenker – Ford Parts Distribution Center (PDC) in Dubai Logistics District, part of Dubai World Central. Set to commence operations in January 2025, the 41,792-sq-m PDC will be a consolidated storage and distribution site, ensuring better availability of parts, optimizing inventory management, and enhancing customer service.

Vineeta Gogia to join Smartifai as Business Director

Smartifai, a leading contextual Intelligence provider in the industry for brands, agencies, and publishers, has appointed Vineeta Gogia as Business Director to lead the business development of its new Product division. Vineeta Gogia brings a wealth of experience in digital ad technology and media, having excelled in her previous roles. Vineeta Gogia most recently served as the Business Enterprise Solutions Director at Indahash, where she successfully managed enterprise solution initiatives.Prior to Indahash, she worked with Silverpush as director, contributing to the expansion of the company’s regional operations.Earlier in her career, Gogia was associated with Fork Media as director, where she played a crucial role in the launch and expansion of the GCC business.Gogia is noted for her expertise in shifting product strategies, establishing critical publisher and technology alliances, and forming trading partnerships.Her strategic achievements have played a key role in driving growth and solidifying the presence of the media firms she has been associated with. In her new role as Business Director at Smartifai, Gogia will leverage her background in digital advertising and her track record in developing business verticals. She aims to spearhead Smartifai’s expansion and market penetration efforts.Sachin Kumar, Co-Founder of Smartifai, emphasizes that Gogia's appointment is a testament to Smartifai’s commitment to strengthening its leadership with experienced professionals. Gogia's strategic foresight, technical expertise, and ability to build meaningful partnerships position her to lead Smartifai’s new business division.With Vineeta Gogia on board, Smartifai aims to boost its product offerings and scale its business operations, intending to expand its reach and achieve further growth.

Region’s most dynamic startups honored at Middle East Startup Awards

The Middle East Startup Awards (MESA) 2022-23, the regional round of the Global Startup Awards, honored some of the most dynamic startups from eight countries of the region at the end of a two-day conference and exhibition, hosted by the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK).The Middle East Startup Awards recognize the exceptional achievements of innovation and tech-driven startups and entrepreneurs from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Jordan.The Guest of Honour at the opening session was HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Kayed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Economic Development, Ras Al Khaimah.The event also hosted the Youth Innovation Challenge, in which young minds were invited to showcase their innovative projects before a distinguished panel in the presence of the chief guest, HE Mohamed Ali Musabbeh Al Nuaimi, Chairman, RAK Chamber of Commerce.The AURAK campus hosted the two-day event, uniting experts from around the globe and the region, alongside investors and industry leaders in a distinctive celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship. The event featured keynote speeches, panel discussions, and networking sessions focused on strategies for launching, expanding, and scaling startups. Additionally, the event witnessed participation from over ten universities and attracted more than 300 participants.In his keynote address, Dr. David A. Schmidt, President of AURAK, said: “It is a matter of great pride for AURAK to host the Middle East Startup Awards. AURAK has one of the most dynamic entrepreneurship centers in the region, with a thriving student incubator that provides a supportive ecosystem for aspiring entrepreneurs. These programs often leverage technology to connect startups with mentors, investors, and industry experts. Universities can facilitate technology transfer from academic research to the commercial sector. This process involves licensing intellectual property, fostering industry partnerships, and supporting the creation of spin-off companies.”Sagarika Sahoo, Co-Founder of Middle East Startup Awards, said: “The second edition of these awards achieved remarkable success, drawing in over 3,500 nominations and culminating in the selection of 135 finalists, and ultimately producing 12 deserving winners. The event was enriched by the presence of prominent industry leaders, investors, startup founders, and fellow entrepreneurs. The response testifies to the vibrancy of the region’s startups, and we are confident the event will inspire more innovators to launch their startups and thus contribute to the national economy. The support of the Ras Al Khaimah Government and AURAK in hosting this event was unparalleled.”The winners of the Middle East Startup Awards 2022-23 are: Reachware, Saudi Arabia (Startup of the Year); Zabonex, Oman (Best Newcomer of the Year); Ms. Altaf AlThekair, Circle, Kuwait (Founder of the Year); Al Zarooni Emirates Investments, UAE (Best Family Office); Pioneer Investors, Oman (VC of the Year); Astro Labs LLC, UAE (Best Co-working Space); Misk Foundation Entrepreneurship, Saudi Arabia (Best Accelerator / Incubator Program); Mr. Hamid Alibeiki, Oman (Ecosystem Hero of the Year); Ion Microsystems, Jordan (Best Green Tech Startup of the Year); Dudi Sports Technologies, UAE (Best Health Tech Startup of the Year); Paybybit Payment Services Provider Co. LLC, UAE (Best Web 3.0 and AI Startup of the Year); Ms. Seham Yateem, Bahrain (Diversity Role Model of the Year) and Paybybit Payment Services Provider Co. LLC, UAE (People's Choice Award).The Middle East Startup Awards is the regional segment of the Global Startup Awards under the operational management of Commerce Connect Events Exhibition & Management (CCEEM). These awards celebrate outstanding ideas from 12 regions spanning across 120 countries. Selecting winners encompasses all facets of the startup ecosystem, employing a network that includes local ambassadors, country partners, national and international jury members, and key advisors comprising prominent investors, political stakeholders, founders, and community builders.

Amantra FM acquires firestop specialist AL MANQAB to expand service portfolio

Amantra FM, a Dubai-based niche facilities management company, today announced the acquisition of AL MANQAB Technical Services LLC, a specialist in fire fighting and safety solutions. The acquisition of AL MANQAB marks Amantra’s foray into the construction industry, where the integration of firestop solutions in design stages helps significantly avert fire hazards in the future. Founded in 2018, AL MANQAB has built a strong portfolio of firestop solutions and ancillary offerings such as safety programs, fire safety audits, hazard identification, and risk assessment. AL MANQAB’s expertise encompasses MEP penetrations, electrical risers, shaft openings, floor/wall openings and joints, where sophisticated firestop solutions can play an integral role in averting and mitigating fire-related incidents in the future. The broad-based solutions, coupled with installation from trained technicians, constitute AL MANQAB’s and, by extension, Amantra’s competitive edge in construction.“AL MANQAB’s tested-and-proven competencies in firestop solutions will synergize perfectly with Amantra’s existing MEP capabilities to offer enhanced value to our customers. The construction industry can be the custodian of fire safety in future buildings by incorporating sophisticated solutions in the design stages. The resulting preventive rather than reactive approach to fire safety has profound implications for liveability in the urban context. Amantra FM is proud to champion this righteous cause in GCC,” explained Sangeetha B., CEO of Amantra FM.ABM (Al Basti and Muktha), ASGC, and Innovo are among the leading clients who will benefit immensely from that synergy following the acquisition. AL MANQAB has a good track record of improving fire safety and awareness in organizations through employee engagement programs. Such programs touch upon accountability measures and administrative controls to minimize exposure while underscoring the need to comply with global fire safety standards and protocols.As toxic smoke and fires in buildings are a multi-faceted challenge with causes such as inadequate firestop measures in design stages, the lack of awareness among occupants, and indifference towards regulations and compliance with safety standards, a comprehensive solutions suite like Al MANQAB’s is highly desirable today.Commenting on the acquisition, Naveed Yakub, Area Operations Supervisor at Amantra, said: “AL MANQAB’s competencies, coupled with Amantra’s growing ecosystem and an impact-driven approach to facility operations and management, will help institutionalize fire resistance in buildings across GCC. Al MANQAB adds a new dimension of MEP capability to the comprehensive suite of value-centric services we are building under the umbrella of Amantra.”Consistent with Naveed’s words, Amantra has differentiated itself in the facility management industry through offerings and initiatives rooted in social impact. Amantra FM recently partnered with US-headquartered AtmosAir to help facilities in the region achieve optimal indoor air quality (IAQ) and improve well-being. As part of the landmark partnership, it became an authorized distributor and promoter of AtmosAir’s bi-polar ionization technology, which boasts a pathogen reduction rate of up to 99% in indoor environments.“The acquisition of AL MANQAB, closely following a major partnership with AtmosAir, adds more impetus to Amantra’s aspirations of driving social, economic, and environmental sustainability in FM operations. We are building an ecosystem around customer-centricity, partnering with and acquiring companies we believe can add measurable value to life in urban facilities without compromising on the liveability of future generations,” noted Neethu Padmanabhan, Contracts and Customer Experience at Amantra FM.

Adaverse, Saudi’s web3 & blockchain VC fund, announces investment in Takadao

Adaverse, a Cardano ecosystem accelerator and seed fund with a focus on scaling Web3 solutions, announces its first strategic investment in Saudi Arabia’s Takadao, marking the companies’ commitment to the pursuit of Vision 2030. Takadao, a revolutionary force in the financial industry, introduces community-owned financial services, challenging traditional financial paradigms with its innovative approach.Adaverse: Pioneering the Web3 RevolutionAdaverse is a leading early-stage investor and builder in the Web3 sphere, boasting 60 investments across 13 nations from around the world. An initiative by EMURGO, the renowned global blockchain technology firm and a founding member of the Cardano blockchain platform, Adaverse is on a mission to build a global community of entrepreneurs solving the world’s challenges with blockchain technology.Excited about Vision 2030 and Saudi Arabia’s openness to innovation and economic diversification, Adaverse has now officially expanded its operations to Riyadh, making it the very first venture capital fund in the Kingdom to specialise in Web3 and blockchain early-stage investing. In 2024, the company plans on investing $10 million in local Web3 startups.In addition to providing capital investment, Adaverse is uniquely proactive in supporting the growth of its portfolio companies. This involves assistance in developing product strategies that leverage Web3 technology, helping startups establish and grow their communities in other markets such as Southeast Asia and Africa, and connecting them with leading Web3 investors from Asia, the US, and other regions for future fundraising opportunities.Vincent Li, Adaverse founding partner, is optimistic about the prospects for both Adaverse and Takadao, stating, “Adaverse’s entry into Saudi Arabia with Takadao is more than an investment; it’s our commitment to elevate solutions that solve everyday challenges and empower communities. Takadao, with its groundbreaking and community-centred approach, adeptly meets essential everyday needs, and we’re enthusiastic about backing this fusion of tangible innovation and market opportunity, a project at the heart of highly committed and visionary co-founders Morrad and Sharene. This venture marks a significant milestone for our commitment to development in the Middle East, and we eagerly anticipate Takadao’s growth and continual innovation.”Takadao: Redefining Financial Services with Ethical SolutionsFounded in May 2022, Takadao has been a beacon of innovation in the decentralised finance space, even amid challenging market conditions. Its premier product, Takaturn, is a novel savings and yield generation platform enabling collective savings and liquidity access. The flagship product, Takasure, is a cooperative life insurance DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization), a pioneering model where members pool funds for mutual insurance, redistributing profits among members. Takadao distinguishes itself from traditional financial services by leveraging blockchain technology to enhance transparency and reduce costs, offering more secure and efficient community-driven, halal insurance and financial solutions to a diverse global audience, including both Muslim and non-Muslim communities, attracting those interested in the ethical aspect of the platform.Co-founders Morrad Irsane and Sharene Lee, inspired by personal experiences and a commitment to ethical financing, have crafted a platform that caters to a diverse global audience, providing secure and community-driven financial solutions.Reflecting on this collaboration, Morrad Irsane, Co-Founder of Takadao, said, “Partnering with Adaverse propels us forward in our journey. Their expertise in the web3 space, coupled with their deep-rooted connections in key markets, accelerates our knowledge and community-building efforts.”The Growth of Shariah-Compliant Financial ServicesShariah-compliant financial services are rapidly emerging as a significant force in the global financial landscape, far surpassing the confines of a niche market. Currently, these services, encompassing banking, capital markets, money markets, and Takaful (Islamic insurance), are estimated to be valued at around US$2 trillion. This sector is witnessing accelerated growth, especially in predominantly Muslim countries where Islamic banking assets are growing at a faster pace than traditional banking assets. This trend is largely driven by strong economic growth and strategic development plans, especially in crucial markets like Saudi Arabia, where the corporate sector is playing a pivotal role in increasing the volume of Halal financial transactions.Takadao’s Strategic Position in the Islamic Finance MarketThis investment by Adaverse is not just a financial endeavour but a strategic alliance aimed at scaling Web3 solutions and bolstering economic diversification in Saudi Arabia. The partnership symbolizes a harmonious blend of Adaverse's deep-rooted expertise and expansive market connections with Takadao's groundbreaking initiatives, primed to catalyze growth and expansion in pivotal markets.Takadao’s entry into the Islamic finance market is both timely and strategic, filling a crucial gap. Despite Shariah-compliant insurance serving the fast-growing Muslim demographic, which accounts for 24% of the global population, it currently represents less than 0.5% of the $5 trillion global insurance industry. Overcoming scalability challenges posed by traditional financial infrastructures, With the Islamic finance sector anticipated to grow by 10% annually and reach around $5.1 trillion by 2028, Takadao is ideally positioned to lead in this expanding market, especially in key regions like Saudi Arabia, showcasing its commitment to innovation, ethical practices, and community focus.So far, Takadao has built a community of over 17,000 members around their savings product Takaturn (launched in October 2024). With a patent pending on their actuarial and risk management algorithm, Takadao is set to revolutionize Shariah-compliant financial services with the launch of Takasure in June 2024. At this juncture, Adaverse joins Takadao, bringing expertise in the web3 space to support Takadao’s next growth phase towards the successful launch of Takasure and also amplify Takadao’s impact in key markets. ConclusionAdaverse's investment in Takadao is a pivotal step towards supporting innovative and ethical financial solutions in alignment with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030. This partnership not only signifies a financial investment but also reflects a shared vision of driving innovation and change in the financial sector, leveraging the strengths and expertise of both entities.

Kekst CNC opens office in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Kekst CNC has opened its first office in Saudi Arabia in the capital, Riyadh. This comes after nearly a decade of delivering strategic communications counsel to large and small clients from the public and private sectors in the Kingdom and across the Middle East.Led by newly hired Director and Country Head Robert Hanvik, the office represents a critical next step in Kekst CNC’s continuing expansion in the region.Commenting, Ben Curson, Partner and Head of the Middle East, Kekst CNC, said:“Opening our first Saudi office is an exciting step for Kekst CNC, as our track record and international insights and experience are driving demand for our strategic communications offer.“In line with the Kingdom's vision for economic diversification and growth, our decision to establish our regional headquarters in Saudi Arabia reflects our confidence in the country's business environment and its commitment to attracting global companies. Under Robert’s leadership, we look forward to contributing to the development of the local economy, developing local partnerships and nurturing the next generation of business leaders in the region."During his 37-year career, Robert has led integrated communication assignments and worked closely with governments, companies, NGOs and academic institutions around the world and across the GCC. More than a dozen KSA Ministries and all of the leading Saudi companies have benefited from his counsel.Robert is joined in Riyadh by Elena Riva, Senior Consultant, who is experienced in navigating diverse geopolitical contexts in Europe and the Middle East. She previously developed national branding campaigns, developed and overseen communications strategies and managed reputational issues across public and private sector entities.Kekst CNC’s Riyadh office gives in-Kingdom and regional/global clients access to a full suite of communications capabilities, including corporate positioning and bespoke strategy, thought leadership, media outreach and implementation, and risk assessment and crisis response. In addition, Kekst CNC KSA has established a network of partnerships to support implementation of its strategic recommendations.

Mansoor bin Mohammed crowns the winners of the 14th Dubai Globe Soccer Awards

His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, crowned the winners of the 14th Dubai Globe Soccer Awards. The event, held as part of the Dubai International Sports Conference, recognises excellence in playing, coaching, and management in global football.Notable winners included Manchester City striker Erling Haaland, who was named Best Player, Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo who won three awards, and Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola who was named Best Coach.HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed extended his congratulations to the winners of the awards for their exceptional achievements. He emphasised the importance of promoting high ethical benchmarks in sports and urged the winners to leverage their influence and recognition to set exemplary standards, not only within their immediate sporting communities but also to the millions of followers they inspire worldwide. His Highness highlighted the crucial role sports icons play in shaping the values that define the sporting world and beyond.His Excellency Mattar Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, also attended the award ceremony held at Atlantis, The Palm along with His Excellency Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Chairman of Manchester City; His Excellency Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council; and officials of various Dubai Government departments and leading officials from global clubs, organisations and federations.The event started with the presentation of the Dubai Globe Soccer Digital Awards. Asgari_freestyle received the award for the Best Video Creator, Msdossary7 was honoured as Best eSports Player, Fabrizio Romano was named Best Digital Journalist, Alnoufali_7 was recognised as Best Social Media Influencer, Rafael Leao of AC Milan won the award for Best Digital Content by a Player in Lega Serie A, and AS Roma received the award for the Best Digital Content by a Club in the Italian league. The award for the Best Middle East Media Company went to Saudi Media Company while Egypt’s ZED FC was named Best Middle East Academy.Other notable awards presented at the event recognised excellence in professional football:• Jude Bellingham, the star of Real Madrid and the English national team, was honoured with the Power Horse Emerging Player award.• Aitana Bonmati, the standout player from FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team, received the Best Women’s Player award.• Egyptian club Al Ahly received the title of Best Middle East Club.• Jorge Mendes, representing the agency Gestifute, claimed the Best Agent award.• Cristiano Giuntoli of Juventus received the award for Best Sports Director.• Ederson, of Manchester City and Brazil, was named Best Goalkeeper.• Manchester City and Spain international Rodri took home the Best Midfielder award.• FC Barcelona was honoured with the award for Best Women's Club.• Englishman John Terry received a Career Player award.• Lionel Scaloni, the Argentine coach, was recognised with the Best Coach award.• Manchester City was named Best Men's Club.• Cristiano Ronaldo, of Al Nassr and the Portuguese national team, received the awards for Best Middle East Player and Globe Soccer Maradona Award for Top Goalscorer in 2023.• Pep Guardiola, the Spanish coach of Manchester City, was crowned Best Coach.• Casemiro, Brazil’s Manchester United midfielder, was honoured with a Career Player award.• His Excellency Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Chairman of Manchester City, received the Best President award.• Al Nassr’s Ronaldo also secured the Fans' Favourite Player Award.• Erling Haaland, the Manchester City and Norway striker, took home the Best Men’s Player award.Commenting on the occasion, His Excellency Saeed Hareb, the Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council, said: "Guided by the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the 18th Dubai International Sports Conference and the 14th Dubai Globe Soccer Awards held today reinforce Dubai's emergence as a major global venue for premier sporting events. These prestigious events draw the participation of renowned international sports stars and key decision-makers, shaping the future of sports and bringing together a global audience through international broadcasting.""The presence of international football icons, whose remarkable achievements have made a lasting impact on world football, reflects the global significance of the event. Their eagerness to participate in the Dubai conference is a testament to their dedication to sharing the stories of their professional journeys. Their attendance at the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards, a ceremony that celebrates the achievements of the sport's heroes, demonstrates the event's international appeal."Hareb extended his heartfelt thanks to the dedicated team responsible for the organisation of the annual event. The conference and award ceremony are highly anticipated and followed by hundreds of millions of enthusiasts worldwide, underscoring their global importance and reach, he noted.The Dubai International Sports Conference commenced with a technical session titled ‘Women and Football’ at the Dubai Press Club. The session shed light on the increasing role of women in football, showcasing their prominent positions and responsibilities in club and federation management. Ornella Belia, FIFA's Director of Professional Football Development, and Greta Nardici, AC Milan's Regional Director in the Middle East and North Africa, were featured speakers, exemplifying the growing influence of women in professional football.The session, attended by His Excellency Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council, highlighted the limitless potential and capabilities of women in professional football in both technical and managerial positions. The speakers at the event shared insightful guidance, aimed at empowering young women who aspire to carve out careers in football, whether on the field as players or off the field in managerial roles. During the session, Saeed Hareb presented the Shield of the Dubai Sports Council, to acknowledge the speakers’ participation.The theme for this year's Dubai International Sports Conference was ‘Sustainability and Performance in Football’. Launched alongside the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards ceremony, the event set a benchmark for environmental awareness by adhering to sustainability standards. The organisers implemented eco-friendly practices, using environmentally sustainable alternatives for materials used at the event. Additionally, electronic invitations were sent out as part of the joint efforts of the Dubai Sports Council and the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards organising committee to host a sustainable event.This commitment to sustainability aligns with the groundbreaking partnership between the Dubai Sports Council and the Neutral Carbon Zone. The collaboration marks a significant first step in the event's journey towards sustainability and ‘zero carbon’ status," and positions the event as the first-ever football awards ceremony to attain carbon neutrality on a global scale.

Diriyah Company partners with Formula E for 2024 Diriyah E-Prix

CBX, promoter of the 2024 Diriyah E-Prix, is delighted to announce Diriyah Company as a partner for the upcoming Formula E Diriyah E-Prix taking place on the 26th and 27th of January, Rounds 2 and 3 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.Thousands of fans are set to fill the grandstands to enjoy the unique experience of 22 world class Formula E drivers racing the fastest, lightest, most powerful and efficient electric race cars ever built around the walls of the UNESCO world heritage site at night. Tickets for the Diriyah E-Prix are available now at Inzerillo, Group CEO of Diriyah Company, said: “We are excited to sponsor and host the Diriyah E-Prix again this year in its sixth edition. This continued partnership is a testament to Diriyah’s commitment to accelerate adoption and inspire change in sustainable practices. Through Diriyah Season, we will further reflect and showcase our detailed efforts as a hub for world-class events, a gathering place for authentic cultural experiences, and a celebration for Najdi heritage and hospitality.”Carlo Boutagy, Founder and CEO, CBX, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Diriyah Company as a partner to the 2024 Diriyah E-Prix. To witness the start of the project five years ago and see its development, culminating in the sales of the first residential properties in Diriyah, makes me very proud. We are very lucky to have the stunning Bujairi Terrace as a backdrop to our race which tells the rich story of the Kingdom through a multitude of vendors in arguably one of the most beautiful settings in the world. I hope the Formula E community have the opportunity to visit during their time in Diriyah.” Nacho Calcedo, Formula E Event Director, 2024 Diriyah E-Prix, said: “We are proud to return to Diriyah for the sixth time and this historic area of Saudi Arabia. Formula E will showcase to the world the unrivalled speed, performance and excitement that electric racing can deliver, against the backdrop of heritage, history and culture that emanates from every part of Diriyah. It is one of the most iconic and picturesque races we have on the calendar, blended with showstopping entertainment and fan experiences. We cannot wait to return.”The double-header of races are part of the Diriyah Season 23/24 that is presented by Diriyah Company, in partnership with Diriyah Gate Development Authority– which offers a captivating array of events and experiences designed to bring the heritage and culture of Diriyah to life. The Season will offer visitors an unrivalled authentic experience that combines arts and culture, live performance, and experiential experiences to showcase nearly six hundred years of history and heritage in a compelling and entertaining way.Diriyah Season aims to entertain visitors’ cultural curiosity by curating a calendar of events offering something for everyone including the return of ‘Layali Diriyah’, immersive art installations and exhibitions, stellar culinary experiences, and outdoor activities such as horseback riding, camping, and stargazing.This year’s theme honours Diriyah’s origin story and celebrates Al Awja, indicative of the people of the bend (Wadi Hanifah) and a rallying call for all Saudis to come together and celebrate their shared culture and identity. Diriyah is a place of history and heritage, as well as being a vital source of cultural identity and national pride. The birthplace of the Kingdom stands at the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s plans for its future as a unique cultural capital.Founded in 2023, Diriyah Company is a dynamic mixed-use developer that is redefining urban planning to transform Saudi Arabia’s historic birthplace into a vibrant new capital of culture, entertainment, education, and the arts. With the UNESCO World Heritage site of At-Turaif at its core, Diriyah links the Kingdom’s past, present and future. Also known as “The City of Earth”, it introduces visitors to the charm and generosity of Najdi culture as well as a symbol of inspiration for generations of creatives, innovators, entrepreneurs, and educators to come.The Diriyah E-Prix race weekend is part of Saudi Arabia’s investment in sport, which aims to inspire its people to enjoy active and healthy lives as part of the country’s Vision 2030 cultural transformation. From its investments in grass roots infrastructure through to hosting international events – including motorsport, football, tennis and boxing – the country’s Ministry of Sport has helped inspire a 48% increase in weekly sports participation among the local population. The number of Saudi-based sports federations is also up from 32 in 2015 to 97 today.

Al Suwaidi overcomes Joo to be first Emirati to secure victory at ADXC

Mohammed Al Suwaidi secured a decisive win at the second edition of the Abu Dhabi Extreme Championship (ADXC 2) on Friday at Mubadala Arena in Zayed Sports City, making him the first Emirati champion since the championship’s inception last year. Al Suwaidi, also part of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu National Team, defeated South Korean Seonghyeon Joo in an intense matchup on the Prelims Card.In a gripping three-round showdown in the Grappling (Lightweight) category, Al Suwaidi showcased exceptional skills that led to a unanimous decision by the judges in his favor against the formidable Joo. Organised by International Vision Sports Management (IVSM) and technical partner AJP, the championship features an intriguing fight card with fourteen adrenaline-pumping bouts between top jiu-jitsu and grappling athletes within the confines of a custom-built octagon.Al Suwaidi, expressing his elation and gratitude after the match, said, “I am overwhelmed by this achievement and honored to become the first Emirati to win the Abu Dhabi Extreme Championship. I extend my sincere thanks to H.E. Abdulmunem Alsayedmohamed Alhashmi and the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation for their continued support.”Acknowledging the support during his rigorous preparation, Al Suwaidi added, “It was a wonderful experience to step into the cage for the first time. I have put in a great effort during a month and a half of training with expert coaches in grappling and jiu-jitsu. I am honored to dedicate this victory to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates.”

Unilever opens new chapter in global media agency review

Consumer goods giant Unilever is shaking up its global media landscape with a new review of its media planning and buying account. This comes just two years after the last review in 2021, where significant shifts occurred.Unilever emphasizes this review as part of their standard practice to ensure top-notch partnerships. By regularly evaluating their media landscape, they aim to secure the best possible expertise and strategies for their diverse brands across the globe.In the previous review, Omnicom's PHD emerged victorious, gaining control of several markets formerly held by WPP, including Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Canada along with Australia and parts of Asia. Meanwhile, Group M's Mindshare maintained its grip on major markets like the US and UK, expanding its reach to additional territories.This time around, all bets are off as Unilever casts its net wide. While existing partners like Mindshare (with China added to their portfolio), PHD, Havas Media (France and Spain), and IPG's Initiative (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Greece) are involved, the door is open for new contenders too.This move signals a potentially dynamic shift in the media agency landscape, with major players like Unilever holding their partners accountable and seeking constant improvement. It will be interesting to see who emerges victorious and how this reshuffling shapes the future of media buying for some of the world's most recognizable brands.

CMA Licensed Corp unveils trading app Sahm in KSA

Valuable Capital Financial Company (VCFC), a brokerage firm licensed by the Capital Market Authority (22251-25), announced the official launch of its online trading app ‘Sahm’, a platform proprietary designed and developed specifically for investors in Saudi Arabia. The first of its kind in KSA, Sahm offers users the opportunity to trade in both Saudi and US markets within one app and provides a list of Shariah Compliant Stocks in the US market and a variety of US stock ETFs with Arabic themes.Sahm app features speedy client account establishment and enables a one-click quick switch between Saudi and U.S. stock accounts in real-time for both trading and currency conversion. To accommodate professional traders' demands, the app also allows users to create Conditional Orders, a synthetic and powerful trading tool previously only seen on professional trading desks.“Since the beginning, our product philosophy has always been to design an all-in-one, easy-to-use trading platform tailored for domestic investors. And now, Sahm is just a perfect example of integrating everything investors need into one app,” said Hadeel Bedeeri, General Manager of VCFC, who was speaking at the launch of the app at a press conference in Riyadh.Sahm's comprehensiveness is demonstrated via all-in-oe features including market quotes, company data, 24/7 news, investors' education materials, and analysis tools. This integration helps the app stand out among other trading platforms, which often require users to switch frequently between multiple apps when making investment decisions.According to VCFC, the app supports both Arabic and English, with a sleek, user-friendly UI design embedded with bundled functions, like a Shariah Compliant Stocks indicator, demonstrating a strong commitment to the local market. Furthermore, functions related to market information reach as deep as detailed listed company profiles, financial event calendars, analysis charts dynamics and key market statistics.“Sahm is definitely powerful and easy to use. Our goal is to provide Saudi users with a seamless and tailored investing experience, making investing as simple as breathing,” said Jess Cheung, Co-Founder and CEO of Valuable Capital Group Ltd, the mother company of VCFC. “With the launch of the Sahm app, we hope to become the best online broker in Saudi Arabia and are committed to offering fast, easy, and global integrated market access to Saudi investors,” he added.VCFC, registered in Riyadh, is strategically invested by VCGL and eWTPA. VCGL, a global leading financial group, has set up licensed entities in Hong Kong SAR, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore, gaining worldwide recognition from millions of users.In October 2023, VCFC received licenses from the Capital Market Authority (CMA) to conduct Dealing, Advising, and Custody services in KSA, making it the first international online brokerage firm to provide online brokerage services in KSA. The company is also a registered member of the Saudi stock exchange, Tadawul, as well as its affiliates, the Securities Depository Center Company (Edaa) and the Securities Clearing Center Company (Muqassa).During the event, VCFC also confirmed that the company is currently applying for "Arranging" and "Managing" licenses from the regulator CMA to further broaden its all-dimensional financial services.

Samsung announces pre-orders for Galaxy S24 Series in the UAE

Samsung Gulf Electronics has announced that the new Galaxy S24 Series - Galaxy S24 Ultra, Galaxy S24+ and Galaxy S24 - are now available for pre-order for customers across the UAE until January 30, 2024.The Galaxy S24 Series ushers in a transformative era for mobile devices, with AI enhancing every aspect of the user experience. From seamless communication through intelligent text and call translations to the Galaxy ProVisual Engine that expands creative possibilities to setting a new benchmark for mobile search, the Galaxy S24 Series, powered by Galaxy AI, is the premium, intelligent experience only Galaxy could create.Fadi Abu Shamat, Head of the Mobile eXperience Division at Samsung Gulf Electronics, remarked, "The Galaxy S24 Series marks a significant leap in global connectivity and mobile innovation. With Galaxy AI at the forefront, we're excited to introduce the Galaxy S24 Series to the UAE, offering Galaxy enthusiasts the chance to explore myriad unique opportunities enabled by Galaxy AI. Our exclusive pre-order promotions ensure easy access to these devices and provide exceptional value for those looking to upgrade."To celebrate the milestone, Samsung has announced special offers across, in Samsung stores, and at retail partners.UAE customers who pre-order the new Galaxy S24 Series will benefit from a complimentary double storage upgrade, a 1-year Samsung Care+ support service covering accidental damage and repairs, and a free 45W travel adapter. Additionally, customers can take advantage of trade-in deals, with potential savings of up to AED 3,700 on the Galaxy S24 Series.The Galaxy S24 Ultra introduces a durable titanium frame, a first for Galaxy phones, delivering enhanced longevity. Its slimmer design ensures a more comfortable grip for on-the-go use. The Galaxy S24+ and S24 feature a sleek One-mass design, merging the rear cover and side frame for a more elegant look. Reflecting the hues of Earth's minerals, the Galaxy S24 Series offers a palette of sophisticated colors. The Galaxy S24 Ultra is available in Titanium Gray, Titanium Black, Titanium Violet, and Titanium Yellow, while the Galaxy S24+ and Galaxy S24 come in Onyx Black, Marble Gray, Cobalt Violet, and Amber Yellow. Each model also features exclusive online-only color options.

Assembly appoints Ryan Garner as its first Chief Activation Officer in MENA

Ryan Garner has been appointment as Chief Activation Officer at Assembly in MENA. This highlights the company's strategic focus on media activation and delivery. In his new role, Garner will report to Assembly MENA CEO, Faisal Dean, and will be responsible for leading key aspects of the company's operations.Garner's role involves overseeing media activation and delivery, managing important media partnerships, and building high-performance teams that leverage AI and automation to achieve optimal brand and performance results. With a team of approximately 140 individuals under his purview in the Paid Media Department, Garner is positioned to play a crucial role in driving Assembly MENA's goals forward.Having accumulated over 15 years of digital experience in performance teams at network agencies such as Publicis and Dentsu, Garner brings a wealth of expertise to his new position. His diverse experience across industries, working with brands like P&G, Stellantis, and YOOX Net-a-Porter (Ynap), reflects his capability to navigate and contribute to various sectors.In response to the announcement, Garner expressed enthusiasm about joining Assembly and contributing to its performance media initiatives. He emphasized the company's unparalleled capabilities and expressed his eagerness to collaborate with Faisal Dean to further enhance Assembly MENA's market presence.Faisal Dean, the CEO of Assembly MENA, praised Garner's appointment as a strategic milestone that aligns with the company's vision for growth. Dean highlighted Garner's exceptional track record, innovative mindset, and proven ability to deliver results across diverse industries, reinforcing the belief that Garner's expertise will contribute significantly to positioning Assembly as a leading omni-channel media agency.

Disney+ Hotstar partners with Xapads in MENA region

Disney+ Hotstar and Xapads have forged a dynamic partnership to transform the advertising landscape in MENA Region.This collaboration signifies a strategic move to enhance Connected TV (CTV) advertising capabilities in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa). This partnership aims to unlock new possibilities for advertisers and underscores Disney+ Hotstar's commitment to staying ahead in the ever-evolving media landscape.The collaboration is focused on improving ad solutions and bridging the gap between brands and the audience in the MENA region. Advertisers may gain exclusive access to premium inventory, providing them with unique opportunities to engage with the audience on the Disney+ Hotstar platform.Ramneek Chadha, COO of Xapads, expressed excitement about the collaboration, emphasizing that Disney+ Hotstar's influential position in the streaming realm, combined with Xapads' expertise in digital advertising, will yield outstanding results for advertisers. Chadha highlights that advertisers will have direct access to premium CTV and connected device audiences in the top 10 metropolitan areas.Dhruv Dhawan, Head of Ads at Disney+ Hotstar, emphasized the platform's continuous search for innovative ways to empower advertisers. He believes that the collaboration with Xapads will help Disney+ Hotstar make significant strides in the MENA region, facilitating the growth of their advertiser base.Gagan Uppal, Country Head for MENA at Xapads, envisioned that this partnership will bridge the gap between brands and the audience, making content and advertising more engaging and accessible. Advertisers will have exclusive access to premium inventory, while the audience can enjoy compelling content and live streaming of matches. Uppal looks forward to witnessing the incredible stories and experiences that will unfold as a result of this development.

Riyadh welcomes 800 industry leaders at grand launch of Foaj Marketing Alliance

The launch of Foaj Group in Riyadh marks a significant development in the communication and marketing industry, positioning itself as the first and largest alliance of its kind in the region. The event, attended by over 800 marketing professionals, including the Minister of Media Salman Al-Dossary, showcased the alliance's commitment to bringing together local and international expertise. Foaj Group operates within an integrated system that combines communication, planning, and creativity. This suggests a holistic approach to marketing solutions.Foaj Group's chairman, Riyadh Al-Zamil, emphasized the integrated system that the alliance operates within, combining communication, planning, and creativity. The group has forged strategic partnerships, alliances, and joint ventures with trusted players in the field, collaborating with international leaders to bring global expertise to local and regional markets.Rayan Al-Tuaymi, the CEO of Foaj Group, outlined the group's structure, comprising 12 leading media and marketing firms. The goal is to position Foaj Group as a "one-stop shop" for comprehensive marketing solutions, creating a connected network of distinguished and innovative companies in the sector. The group boasts a team of over 500 highly qualified professionals, reinforcing its commitment to providing top-notch services in the dynamic and competitive marketing landscape.The launch event at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel signifies the ambition of Foaj Group to play a prominent role in the communication and marketing landscape, bringing together expertise and fostering collaborations for the benefit of local and regional markets.

Dafa News joins DP World ILT20 as official partner

Dubai: Dafa News has joined the DP World ILT20 – the biggest cricket league in the gulf region – as an Official Partner for Season 2. Dafa News has emerged as one of the most popular sports news platforms in recent years. During the 34-match DP World ILT20 Season 2, ‘Dafa News Facts’ will be a part of the broadcast experience for viewers tuned in from around the world.Chief Executive Officer DP World ILT20 David White: “Dafa News is one of the fastest growing sports news platforms with a niche in cricket. We look forward to this exciting partnership for what promises to be an exhilarating month of top-class T20 cricket in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.“The action begins this weekend; the six teams are here and preparing hard with an eye on the glittering DP World ILT20 trophy. We can’t wait for the first ball this Friday at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium.”

Liminal partners with Encryptus to bridge between crypto and fiat

Dubai: Liminal, the fastest-growing digital asset custody and wallet infrastructure provider, has announced a strategic partnership with Dubai-based Encryptus, a pioneer in providing comprehensive fiat off-ramp solutions. This collaboration aims to transform the digital asset space by offering a compliant and consolidated pathway for institutions to convert crypto to local currencies seamlessly. The partnership aligns seamlessly with both companies' goals. Liminal's expertise in secure custody solutions, supporting over 50+ businesses and 20+ chains, perfectly complements Encryptus's robust crypto-to-fiat off-ramp capabilities. This collaboration will enable Liminal users to seamlessly convert their digital asset treasury into fiat currencies, facilitating business payments in 54 countries and individual payments in 80+ countries to bank wires and mobile wallets (e-wallets)In 2023, Liminal announced the grant of an In-Principle Approval (IPA) by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to operate as a custody provider for Virtual Assets. This partnership can be considered as a step forward in expanding its base in the middle east region.This collaboration is poised to yield several key benefits:Enhanced Clientele Access for Encryptus: By partnering with Liminal, Encryptus gains access to a diverse client base seeking secure and compliant crypto-to-fiat solutions. This expands their market reach and allows them to cater to the specific needs of Liminal's clients.Expanded Business Opportunities for Liminal: Liminal can now offer extended service to its existing clients by integrating Encryptus’s off-ramp solutions, enabling direct crypto-to-fiat transfer right from their Vaults app. Simplifying Crypto Transactions: By simplifying complex compliance challenges and streamlining digital to fiat asset conversions, this collaboration makes crypto a more accessible and user-friendly asset for businesses worldwide in a more regulated and in a compliant way. Manhar Garegrat, Country Head India & Global Partnerships at Liminal said, “We are delighted to partner with Encryptus, a company that shares our commitment to security, compliance, and innovation. This collaboration will undoubtedly enhance our ability to provide cutting-edge solutions to our clients globally."Encryptus CEO Shantnoo Saxsena said: "The partnership with Liminal marks a strategic move towards offering a comprehensive fiat off-ramp solution to Liminal's customers. Encryptus is committed to empower their partners to offer Crypto <> Fiat services in a secure and in a compliant way. We are really excited to be a part of Liminal’s ecosystem"This strategic alliance signifies a major leap forward in bridging the gap between traditional and crypto finance. Liminal and Encryptus are committed to revolutionizing the industry by delivering innovative solutions that meet the evolving needs of the digital asset landscape. By joining forces, they pave the way for a future where crypto becomes a readily accessible and valuable tool for businesses worldwide.

UAE Tops Arab Nations, Switzerland Leads Global Labour Resilience Index 2024

Against the backdrop of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Whiteshield announces the release of the Global Labour Resilience Index (GLRI) 2024. As the world confronts the profound challenges of global warming and the urgency of transitioning to a sustainable future, the impact on labour markets looms large. The direct consequences of climate change, including displacement, migration, and fluctuations in both physical and mental well-being, have become increasingly pervasive. In response, legislative and policy frameworks are adapting towards green sustainability, emphasizing the critical necessity for robust, inclusive labour markets. This imperative theme is thoroughly explored within the pages of GLRI 2024. The GLRI 2024 provides insights to strengthen labour markets, preparing them to endure climate change challenges and leverage the prospects of a sustainable, green future. To balance environmental needs with labour market dynamics, policymakers must adopt a holistic strategy, integrating climate and labour policies for a smooth and equitable transition to a green economy. Key actions include strengthening social protection transfers, including provisions for unemployment benefits, disability allowances, child support, and pensions, and investing in education, training, and reskilling to equip the workforce for green jobs while addressing the potential broadening of inequalities. This report sheds light on the nations leading in labour market resilience during this era of the green transition. Countries not only must foster labour markets capable of withstanding temporary shocks but also must possess the capacity to navigate structural trends. Labour market resilience, the ability to face and recover from disruptions to the labour market, is a cornerstone of inclusive and sustainable labour markets. The GLRI 2024 quantifies this resilience through both Structural and Cyclical pillars. The most labour-resilient countries in the report are predominantly European, with Switzerland securing the top position. Singapore stands as the only non-European country among the leading nations. In the Middle East, the green transition is crucial for economic diversification, innovation, and trade. The UAE showcases the highest labour resilience among Arab countries, while Saudi Arabia is catching up by diversifying its economy and enhancing workforce skills.China and India face significant challenges and opportunities. China must ensure a sufficient supply of green skills to meet job demand and protect workers during the transition, while India's extensive shift toward sustainability requires a policy framework for green jobs and an equitable transition.The GLRI 2024 highlights several policy implications for labour markets during the green transition. As this development induces structural changes in the economy, targeted policies and effective institutions should be a catalyst to “green” the labour market. The importance of effective institutions cannot be overstated as they can foster better policy choices leading to higher labour market resilience and better environmental performance. However, while good policies and quality institutions are prevalent in high-income countries, resource-poor countries have yet to build strong institutions to seize emerging green opportunities.Policymakers must also consider strengthening economic fundamentals for labour markets to capitalize on emerging green opportunities. Macroeconomic stability, trade resilience, and governance structures enable workers and firms to adapt quickly to changes brought about by greening the economy.Furthermore, policies should aim to curb the widening of inequalities during the green transition and mitigate potential risks associated with it. Investing in education and training is vital for a sustainable future. Public policy should work with the private sector to establish a “green skill agenda” for re-skilling and upskilling of workers and target the youth, who will be tasked to lead the green transition.Fadi Farra, Senior Managing Partner at Whiteshield, said: “We are delighted to launch the 2024 edition of Whiteshield’s Global Labour Resilience Index, continuing our commitment to contribute essential knowledge to the ongoing discourse on sustainability. Based on extensive research, this report identifies the most labour-resilient countries, emphasizing the critical role resilient labour markets play in shaping environmental performance for a sustainable and adaptable future.”Raed Safadi, Whiteshield’s Chief Economist, said: “The GLRI 2024 underscores the need for targeted policies and effective institutions to catalyze the 'greening' of the labour market amid structural changes in the global economy. Acting in anticipation can improve outcomes and this is where the different metrics of the Global Labour Resilience Index (GLRI) offer help in monitoring performance, benchmarking developments, and drawing lessons of experience on the existing policies and institutions within each of the 136 countries included in the study.”

Lanny Smoot: Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame

Lanny Smoot, a Disney Research Fellow and longtime member of Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development, is being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He is the first Disney Imagineer to receive this prestigious recognition and only the second individual from The Walt Disney Company to be inducted—the first being Walt Disney, honored posthumously in 2000 for the multiplane camera. Smoot and his fellow Class of 2024 inductees will be formally honored in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 9.Upon learning of his induction, Smoot said, “I was honored and humbled at being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. With all of the inventing greats, however, I caught a true lump in my throat when I realized that I was only the second person at The Walt Disney Company being presented with this honor, and the first person was Walt Disney himself.”For nearly three decades, Smoot has continued to push the boundaries of technology to bring to life awe-inspiring, one-of-a-kind experiences to Disney guests around the world. Throughout his illustrious career, he has worked as a theatrical technology creator, inventor, electrical engineer, scientist, and researcher, resulting in more than 100 patents—an incredibly rare feat that makes Smoot one of the most prolific Black inventors in American history, based on patents issued, according to Disney patent attorney Stuart Langley. Of that total, 74 of his patents were created during his 25 years at The Walt Disney Company.“At Disney Experiences, we’re committed to world-class storytelling, creativity, and innovation in everything we do, and Lanny Smoot embodies every one of those ideals,” said Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Experiences. “As Disney’s most prolific inventor, Lanny continues to amaze all of us with his artistic ingenuity, technical expertise, and endless imagination.”Among his many accomplishments, Smoot is credited with giving Madame Leota her ability to “float” in the Séance Room at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Park; crafting the state-of-the-art extendable lightsaber used by Disney Live Entertainment; inventing the Magic Playfloor interactive game experience on the Disney Cruise Line; producing the immersive Fortress Explorations adventure at Tokyo DisneySea; and designing the virtual and interactive koi ponds at the Crystal Lotus Restaurant at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.When deciding which of his patents to highlight as part of his National Inventors Hall of Fame induction, Smoot selected “Where’s the Fire?” at Innoventions, previously featured at EPCOT. This interactive exhibit promoted fire prevention through engaging challenges; guests “shined” a special flashlight on the walls of a house and, through the magic of his technology, exposed hidden fire dangers and learned how to prevent them from happening.Smoot is the recipient of many awards and honors, including three Thea Awards from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) for his work on the attractions Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and Kim Possible: World Showcase Adventure, as well as the Ghost Post limited-time experience inspired by the Haunted Mansion. In 2020, Smoot’s expertise in theatrical technology earned him the esteemed title of TEA Master.Smoot’s forward-thinking inventions have also empowered the theatrical community to create new entertainment, illusions, and magic. He is currently working on the HoloTile floor, the world’s first multi-person, omni-directional, modular, expandable, treadmill floor. It allows any number of people to have a shared virtual reality (VR) experience, walk an unlimited distance in any direction, and never collide or walk off its surface. The HoloTile floor can also be an insert in a theatrical stage, allowing performers to move and dance in new ways, or stage props and structures to move around or appear to set themselves up.Prior to joining Disney, Smoot completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at Columbia University. Before Disney, he worked at Bell Laboratories, followed by Bell Communications Research. While at Bell, he received patents for his role in the early development of video-on-demand technology, video conferencing, and more.

Alex MacCallum Named as Executive VP, Digital Products & Services of CNN

Alex MacCallum has been named CNN Worldwide’s Executive Vice President of Digital Products and Services, a new role focused on overseeing and spearheading CNN’s suite of digital products that serve and engage millions of people globally every day. MacCallum is an experienced product, business and media executive who joins from the Washington Post where she served as Chief Revenue Officer overseeing subscriptions, partnerships and advertising. At the Post, MacCallum began the transformation of the Post’s business, from changing the way its advertising team was structured to evolving how cross-functional work happens across the company. She returns to CNN after previously serving as Global Head of Product for CNN Worldwide and General Manager of CNN+ where she managed product, data, design, growth marketing and business operations. At CNN the first time, MacCallum led cross-functional teams to the launch of CNN+, a direct-to-consumer streaming service as well as re-structured the core product teams to better serve its users. Before joining CNN, she spent eight years at The New York Times in various roles, including Head of Product for Standalone Products, a NYT portfolio that included Cooking, Games, Wirecutter, Audio and Kids, and as the founding Masthead editor for Audience in the newsroom. She was the founding product leader on NYT Cooking, leading the creation and growth of the product in partnership with editorial. She also spent time in the newsroom overseeing NYT Video, re-focusing the team on user-oriented formats and experiences. MacCallum has deep experience in building products that bring world class journalism and storytelling to life. At the Times, she championed a cross-functional product development process that allowed for rapid iteration, new product creation and innovation in product and in particular, direct to consumer businesses. She began her career in media at the Washington Post and was the first news editor for the Huffington Post. She graduated from Brown University and holds a law degree from U.C. Berkeley. MaCallum’s first day at CNN will be March 4. She will be based out of CNN’s New York bureau.

Meta’s ex-COO Sheryl Sandberg to leave Board

Sheryl Sandberg, former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Meta Platforms, has revealed her decision to resign from the company’s Board of Directors once her term concludes in May 2024. This announcement was made through a Facebook post on Wednesday (January 17, 2024).In her FB post, Sandberg said that she will act as an adviser to the social media giant.She had served Meta as the COO for 14 and half years and as a board member for 12 years.Sandberg wrote on her FB wall, “With a heart filled with gratitude and a mind filled with memories, I let the Meta Board know that I will not stand for re-election this May. After I left my role as COO, I remained on the Board to help ensure a successful transition. Under Mark’s leadership, Javi Olivan, Justin Osofsky, Nicola Mendelsohn, and their teams have proven beyond a doubt that the Meta business is strong and well-positioned for the future, so this feels like the right time to step away. Going forward, I will serve as an advisor to the company, and I will always be there to help the Meta teams.”Sandberg wrote that serving as “Facebook’s - and then Meta’s - COO for 14 and half years and a board member for 12 years has been the opportunity of a lifetime”.She wielded considerable influence as the second-in-command to Mark Zuckerberg, having played a pivotal role in devising Meta Platforms’ advertisement-based business model.

Trevor Noah to headline inaugural Web Summit Qatar

Web Summit, the world’s largest technology event, announced today that award-winning presenter and author Trevor Noah will speak on Centre Stage at the inaugural Web Summit Qatar, taking place at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC) from February 26-29, 2024. The South African comedian is one of the most successful comics in the world, and was the host of the Emmy-winning The Daily Show for seven years. Trevor’s 2019 book, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, was a New York Times bestseller, and he is currently working on a new book – Into the Uncut Grass – scheduled for publication in 2024. Trevor currently hosts an original Spotify weekly podcast – What Now? with Trevor Noah – during which he interviews entertainers, CEOs, actors, athletes and thought leaders. Recent guests have included Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Sam Altman and Janelle Monáe. In 2018, Trevor launched the Trevor Noah Foundation to improve equitable access to quality education for underserved youth in South Africa. Trevor will join founder and chief wizard Sachin Dev Duggal, YouTuber Felipe Neto, soccer legend and Brazilian World Cup winner Gilberto Silva, and Tabby co-founder and CEO Hosam Arab – alongside 200-plus other speakers, 800-plus startups, 400-plus journalists and 500-plus investors – at Web Summit Qatar in February.This event in the Middle East is part of Web Summit’s global strategy to broaden its reach into new markets. Web Summit Qatar will provide new opportunities to connect the tech world in growing ecosystems across the Middle East, Africa and India, expanding on the company’s established presence in Europe, North America, South America and Asia. “Trevor is an exceptional comedian, author, philanthropist and advocate. I know firsthand his charisma, intellect and wit, and his ability to make a discussion of difficult topics a prelude to meaningful action. I can’t wait to welcome him on Web Summit Qatar’s stage for our first event in Doha,” said Web Summit CEO Katherine Maher.Web Summit Qatar joins Web Summit’s global roster of events: its flagship event, Web Summit, which draws 70,000-plus attendees to Lisbon each November; North America’s fastest growing tech event, Collision, in Toronto; Web Summit Rio, which gathers thousands of attendees in the hottest startup country in the world; and RISE, which will be returning to Hong Kong in 2025. About Web Summit Web Summit runs the world’s largest technology events, connecting people and ideas that change the world. Web Summit events – Web Summit in Lisbon, Web Summit Rio in South America, Collision in North America, RISE in Asia, and Web Summit Qatar in the Middle East – have gathered half a million people since Web Summit’s beginnings as a 150-person conference in Dublin in 2009. Web Summit’s mission has been to create software that enables meaningful connections between the CEOs, founders, investors, members of the media, politicians and cultural icons who are reshaping the world.  Forbes says Web Summit is “the best tech conference on the planet”; Bloomberg calls it “Davos for geeks”; Politico “the Olympics of tech”; the Guardian “Glastonbury for geeks”. In the words of the Financial Times, Web Summit is “the world’s largest tech conference”, and the Telegraph calls it the “planet’s best tech conference”.

Sarah Qazi's marketing playbook for building winning home care brands

In this exclusive interview, Adgully Middle East delves into the professional journey of Sarah Qazi – Business Lead, Home Care, Unilever, a seasoned leader in the home care industry. With over 15 years of experience and a diverse background spanning various geographies and categories, Sarah has played a pivotal role in the success of Unilever's Home Care Arabia division. Join us as we explore her highs and lows, her role as a business lead, successful marketing strategies, and insights into the evolving landscape of the home care sector. Excerpts:Kindly share your professional journey with us. What can you say about your highs and lows?Over the past 15 years, I have had the privilege of developing my career across various geographies and categories. I have worked in both local and regional roles, focusing on innovation mix creation and market deployment. My experiences have been primarily based in Pakistan and the Middle East. Having joined Unilever as a management trainee in 2006 in the finance function, I fell in love with creating magical experiences for consumers, triggering a move to marketing. One of the highs has been the wealth of diverse marketing experience I have gained across food, refreshment and home care, with exposure across South Asia and MENA.In my current role, I am the business lead for Home Care Arabia, and I double hat as the marketing lead for our beautiful brands as well. Juggling this dual hat has had its highs and lows. From the initial lows of dealing with change after coming back from maternity leave to taking this new challenge to the high of building a team that is on a transformation journey of success. I don’t have many other lows to quote, but the ones I can recall have always been about disappointment in not being recognized or promoted for my efforts. They have been short-lived enough not to feature in my list as I have learnt every step of your professional journey is meant to happen at the right time.Being the Business Lead of Home care Arabia (Unilever), what are your responsibilities? What is the most that you enjoy in your work profile?My primary responsibility is to serve our consumers, giving them a brand experience that serves their needs and serving my team across functions, enabling them to maximize their potential, removing roadblocks to their success. It goes without saying that I am responsible for delivering my business P&L and building beautiful brands in the process. What I enjoy the most still is to get neck deep into a problem or opportunity and find a creative, unexpected way to solve it.You have been working in Unilever since 2006, what changes have you seen in the company in the last decade?Unilever has always been a company built on great brands with great people and an amazing culture. I believe we have become more focused on delivering superior product experiences powered by purpose for a sustainable future. The biggest headline change has been the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan which was introduced in 2010 and was the first of its kind in the industry. This has brought focus on delivering a vision to make sustainable living commonplace using the power of our operations, people, and brands.Could you please share some of your successful marketing strategies that have proven effective for clients in the home care segment?For home care as a category where product efficacy and value for money are both key, what I have seen work is to find ways to differentiate. There are many ways to differentiate beyond the obvious, whether it is to differentiate our products, our proposition or even our selling approach. Differentiating our proposition from conventional wisdom of dirt being the bad guy to turning it on its head being an enabler of growth and development is one such example. Premiumising with newer product benefits appealing to a younger audience which I believe is another one set to conquer Gen Z.Given the expansive nature of the home care segment, what specific elements within the home care portfolio tend to attract the most customer attention? Additionally, which aspects contribute the most to overall profits in this industry?If you think, is there one product in your home that you all use, it would be laundry detergent. It is the widest penetrated segment and has a big opportunity for us to leverage. Home care as a category is traditionally lower profits so premiumising remains a focus area to bring more profits.With your expertise in marketing, how have you observed the industry's evolution over the years? What notable changes have occurred in this sector?Some of the obvious ones are the rise of social media influencers driving purchase decision-making, exponential growth in e-commerce as a buying channel and a lot more consumer awareness about the science behind products. Being contextual with popular culture with brands drives a lot of agility in how we look at advertising and building consumer experiences.How has the increasing prevalence of AI across industries impacted the home care sector? Specifically, has AI simplified processes or introduced complexity within the home care sector?AI has the potential of truly simplifying consumer life in this category. If you think about the future of washing machines or dishwashers in the context of AI, it can be game-changing. We are ready to embrace AI in how we work, we must get more comfortable with it. I believe it can simplify processes and bring extreme efficiency. We must find a way to unlock their potential safely.What are your thoughts on women's empowerment in the Middle East, and how have you witnessed changes in this regard over the past decade?I am beyond impressed by the focus on women’s empowerment in the middle east. It is called out as a focus area both in public and private sectors. 50% women in the UAE cabinet reflects the focus on women’s empowerment. in the UAE is an inspiration to many. Recently I was privileged to attend the Annual Middle East Women Leaders’ Summit which blew my mind on the amazing progress made by women entrepreneurs, companies lead and run majorly by women trail blazing their way to success. There is also a growing awareness that women are decision makers, users, and shoppers of many FMCG products so bringing their perspective in the industry is crucial to designing experiences that win their hearts. Companies like Unilever are increasingly focused on enhancing diversity within their workforce. In Unilever UAE, we have moved the needle substantially with women in mid & senior management roles going up from 23% in 2014 to 47% in 2022.What would be your advice to women who aim to reach where you have?This could end up being a long one, so I will try to be sharp and precise. Embrace yourself fully with your vulnerability, emotions, and amazing capacity to nurture. This is an inherent strength we have as women, and too often we try to hide it for fear of judgment. The journey to success will be unique for each of us; we should wear our achievements and struggles both proudly. The second one is something I have learnt recently leading a lean in circle for women in Unilever based out of Dubai. We all need a support circle, to share our resilience, to lean in, learn and get inspired. We have the tendency to shoulder all our burdens ourselves but sharing and seeking support can make it lighter and help take care of ourselves better.

Lenovo reveals top three challenges faced by CIOs

Across industries, as technology becomes more central to business operations, the role of a CIO is increasingly broad. From digital transformation to the carbon footprints of data centres, CIOs are responsible for an ever-growing set of workstreams.This is backed up by Lenovo’s Global Study of CIOs, which found that 84% of IT leaders believe they contribute to company success more than other C-suite leaders, and that nine out of ten believe that they are shouldering more responsibility than ever before. Lenovo’s global study also found that many are also worried that investment in innovation will ‘dry up’, leaving them unable to achieve their many goals, with 83% concerned that they will be left with insufficient budget. Mohammed Hilili, General Manager, Intelligent Devices Group Gulf, Lenovo, said, “CIOs are now expected to make decisions on everything from business reporting and data analytics to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The most recent discoveries from Lenovo's Global Study of CIOs indicate a growing weight of responsibilities on these leaders as their roles have become more critical to business success than ever before. As such, equipping CIOs with the right technologies will empower them to make more reliable and confident decisions in many of these areas and in turn, help companies run more efficiently and competitively.”There are three challenges CIOs are currently contending with. Investing in the right technology can help ease the burden and deal with some of the key issues they face, including the evolving workplace, artificial intelligence (AI) and sustainability. Challenge #1: The digital workplaceTechnology is woven into every part of the modern workplace, functioning like a nervous system which joins together corporate strategy, operations, finance and innovation. This in turn loads more challenges onto CIOs, who are grappling with recruitment and retention (59%), managing a remote workforce (59%), and diversity, equity, and inclusion (55%). The technology environment is also changing, with employees now using two devices on average, combined with a sharp increase in ‘bring your own device’ usage.For IT leaders, technology can help to bring simplicity to this shifting landscape. Optimising endpoints using one centralised platform helps to bring order to the chaos, this means that IT teams can focus on business-critical tasks, with end users enjoying a better experience, optimised by AI.Meanwhile, ‘as-a-service’ models offer the flexibility and simplicity to empower teams with the technology they need, in a simple, scalable pay-as-you-go model. As-a-service models allow businesses to stay up to date with the latest and greatest technology, meaning that employees are never held back by older devices, and that less secure devices are not as likely to be used in the workplace. Lenovo’s research found that as-a-service options were highly popular with CIOs, with 92% saying they would consider adding new offerings over the next two years. This provides them with the flexibility to deploy hardware and software with ease, eliminating bottlenecks and freeing up teams to innovate rapidly and supercharge business strategy.Challenge #2: Building intelligenceThe current boom in generative AI has sparked a level of excitement around technology not seen since the dawn of the smartphone era. For CIOs, this poses further challenges: there is high expectation for organisations to engage proactively with AI, and for the technology to deliver business results, fast. The demand to engage with this emerging technology is very real, with 43% of CIOs saying they felt ‘urgent pressure’ to deal with AI.But it’s not simply a case of buying solutions and sitting back and waiting for results: AI has to be used effectively. Edge computing technology helps to bring AI to the data source and will be hugely important for any organisations hoping to reap the benefits through cutting-edge applications such as virtual assistants, generative AI and computer vision. With edge computing, organisations can gain AI-powered insights right where data is created, which can be immediately used to improve outcomes across store aisles, manufacturing floors, hospital rooms and service desks all over the world. Edge AI computing can also process thousands of data points in real-time to gain the insights required to make decisions. In customer service, for instance, it can analyse data to make live recommendations for personalised products and services, or identify issues before they become pain points, enhancing the overall experience.Technology that delivers data centre-like computing to the edge will be crucial to delivering improved experiences in industries from tourism to retail, as well as improved emergency response and public safety. Challenge #3: Maintaining sustainabilityIn previous decades, sustainability has not fallen within the traditional purview of IT leadership. But with increasing attention on the issues such as e-waste, and the emissions associated with data centres, thinking about environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues is yet another responsibility on the shoulders of today’s CIOs. With data centres responsible for up to 1.5% of global electricity use, according to the International Energy Agency, it’s critical that CIOs engage with technologies such as water cooling to increase efficiency and reduce electricity demand. Modern workloads mean that older air cooling technologies now struggle to keep up while becoming very expensive. Liquid cooling technologies will be an important factor in responsible computing going forward, and will also enable the sustainable supercomputers which will be crucial to tackling the challenges of climate change. Decision-makers in IT must also be bold and move beyond the ‘make, use, destroy’ of the linear economy to the ‘design, use, return’ approach of the circular economy. The world produces 50 million tonnes of e-waste every year, and just a fifth of this is recycled. Asset recovery services (ARS) will be key to this, helping to find the most efficient and clean ways to deal with hardware at the end of its service life, whether that’s using the parts in manufacturing, refurbishing, reusing or environmentally friendly scrappage. For CIOs grappling with the challenges of sustainability, the flexibility of ‘device as a service’ models, where devices are recycled or repurposed at the end of their service life, can also help switch to more efficient, environmentally friendly hardware without up-front capital outlay. Meeting the challenge“CIOs currently face challenges that would have been almost unimaginable 20 years ago, with responsibilities spanning everything from DE&I to ESG. Shouldering this increasing burden and being more central to an organisation’s success than ever before, it’s no wonder that it can feel like a lonely battle,” Mohammed Hilili added. “Thankfully, choosing the right technologies can make the role easier and empower CIOs to innovate, making a real difference for the business as a whole.”

Familia partners with Wild Media to enter ME region

Familia, a UK-based production company, has expanded into the Middle Eastern region through a partnership with Wild Media. This collaboration seems to bring together the global expertise of Familia with the regional production knowledge of Wild Media, creating a promising synergy.Familia's experience in delivering commercial work for prestigious brands like Cartier, BMW, and Meta suggests a strong track record in the industry. The decision to establish operations in the Middle East reflects the growing creative landscape and business opportunities in the region.Toby Walsham, as the Managing Director for Familia's Middle East operations, along with Partners and Directors Craig Moore and Francis Wallis, will likely play a crucial role in steering the company's endeavors in this new market. This expansion also indicates the recognition of the Middle East as a significant market for creative content, and Familia's decision to bring its global roster of directors to the region indicates a commitment to delivering high-quality productions tailored to the local market. Overall, it will be interesting to see the impact of this partnership on the creative landscape in the Middle East and the projects that emerge as a result.

Al Habtoor Motors earns acclaim as JAC's Best Global Distributor

Al Habtoor Motors (AHM), a leading automotive brand in the UAE, celebrated significant success at the JAC Global Partners Conference 2024 in Hefei, China. The partnership between AHM and JAC began in 2013. Since then, the collaboration has flourished, culminating in AHM’s recent success at the conference, underscoring the company’s global standing and commitment to excellence, and highlighting its dedication in promoting the JAC brand in the UAE. The company secured four prestigious awards, including 'The Best Global Distributor Award,' 'Sales Star Award,' 'Excellent After-Sales Service Award,' and 'Parts Star Award.' These accolades recognize AHM's outstanding global distribution efforts, remarkable sales achievements, dedication to after-sales service, and exemplary contributions to the parts division. The awards further contribute to AHM's legacy of excellence in the automotive industry and highlight its commitment to promoting the JAC brand in the United Arab Emirates.Ahmed Al Habtoor, CEO of Al Habtoor Motors expressed immense pride, stating, “This accomplishment is a testament to our team’s dedication and hard work. Beyond selling vehicles, we are committed to creating exceptional experiences for our customers. Al Habtoor Motors remains steadfast in delivering unparalleled service and performance, and these awards validate our ongoing pursuit of excellence.” Karim Maksoud, Managing Director, reflected on the company’s global achievements, saying, “Under the visionary leadership of our Founding Chairman and the strategic direction set by our CEO, Ahmed Al Habtoor, Al Habtoor Motors stands out as the sole global distributor recognised across all facets of our business – sales, after-sales service, and parts. This recognition, including the Best Global Distributor Award, exemplifies our commitment to excellence and innovation.” JAC, a cornerstone brand for Al Habtoor Motors, has witnessed significant milestones, including the recent launch of three standalone showrooms – two in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi, strategically expanding options for customers to purchase their favourite vehicles closer to home. The partnership between AHM and JAC appears to be thriving, driven by shared values of innovation, excellence, and customer satisfaction. Such partnerships are crucial in the automotive industry, allowing brands to leverage each other's strengths and provide customers with top-notch products and services.

Dubai Jewellery Group wraps up DSF campaign with giveaway of 25 kg gold

 The Dubai Jewellery Group (DJG), the distinguished trade body representing the jewellery industry in the region, has announced the successful conclusion of its Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) campaign. Dedicated to providing an enriching shopping experience for customers during the festive season, DJG delightedly handed out a total of 25 kilograms of gold to 300 winners over the course of the 38-day campaign.During the campaign, shoppers had the golden opportunity to participate in this remarkable winning streak with a minimum spend of AED 500 on gold, diamond, or pearl jewellery pieces at any of the 275 participating outlets from December 8th, 2023 through January 14th, 2024.Laila Suhail, Board Member & Chairperson of Marketing at Dubai Jewellery Group (DJG) commented, "We are elated with the overwhelming response to our DSF campaign this year. The Dubai Shopping Festival is a time of celebration and joy, and we are delighted to have added to the festive spirit by awarding 25 kilograms of gold to our esteemed customers. The success of this campaign is a testament to the vibrant and dynamic jewellery industry in Dubai, and we look forward to continuing to bring joy and excitement to our customers in the future.”This campaign by the Dubai Jewellery Group featured a series of raffle draws with prizes ranging from quarter-kilo to 10 grams of gold. This year, the group also introduced an engaging digital raffle, further amplifying the chances of winning for participants.

Careem Food reintroduces ‘Dirhams for Delays’ in Dubai

Careem Food once again launches its ‘Dirhams for Delays’ campaign in Dubai from January 15 - March 10 2024, promising to reimburse customers AED 1 for every minute a food order is late.Jaskaran Singh, VP of Product Management at Careem, commented: “This campaign is about being super accurate with the delivery times we share with our customers, not about excessive speed. We’re confident that our delivery prediction and tracking technology is the best in the market and we want to show our customers that they can rely on us to eat on time, every time.”“The safety and wellbeing of our Captains is a priority for us. They can’t see ETA times for orders and won’t bear responsibility for any late deliveries. This is really just about us being so confident in the efficiency of our service, and we’re willing to bet on it.”Despite increases in traffic in Dubai, Careem Food remains committed to reliable deliveries so customers can receive their orders fresh and on time. Careem optimizes the ETA accuracy of orders by assigning Captains to orders based on their proximity to the restaurant and delivery location and working with restaurants to ensure orders are dispatched on time. In 2022 and 2023, only 1 in 20 orders were delivered past the ETADelivery Captains will not bear any responsibility for late deliveries, cannot see the order ETA (estimated time of arrival), and are being encouraged to drive safely through safe driving bonuses, where 20 Captains will be rewarded every week with monetary incentives as a recognition of their commitment to road safety measures.Careem Food launched in 2020 in Dubai and has expanded to become one of the region’s leading food delivery platforms, active across the UAE, KSA, and Jordan with an extensive network of over 15,000 restaurants and flexible earning opportunities to thousands of delivery Captains.For just AED 19 a month, Careem Plus members benefit from free delivery on food and discounts of up to 50% on dining in restaurants through Careem DineOut and a range of other benefits on other services.

Aramco expands global VC programme with $4bln funds injection

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia: Aramco, one of the world’s leading integrated energy and chemicals companies, has allocated an additional $4 billion to Aramco Ventures, its global venture capital arm. It will more than double the capital allotted to Aramco Ventures, increasing its total investment allocation from $3 billion to $7 billion.It will take Aramco’s overall venture capital allocation to $7.5bn, which also includes the $500 million venture capital fund Wa’ed Ventures that focuses on the start-up ecosystem in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.The decision reflects the growing significance of Aramco’s venture capital programme in enabling the development of disruptive new technologies, creating diversification opportunities for Aramco, and paving the way for collaborations with innovative start-ups. In doing so, it aims to help advance the Company’s long-term strategy, which includes a focus on new energies, chemicals and transition materials, diversified industrial businesses, and digital technologies.Ahmad Al Khowaiter, Aramco Executive Vice President of Technology & Innovation, said: “Innovation is key to addressing some of the fundamental challenges facing the world today, including the energy transition. Through Aramco Ventures, we aim to support pioneers with big ambitions, and ultimately help bring their ideas to life. By injecting an additional $4 billion in funding over the next four years, we intend to provide the financial backing required to take game-changing solutions to the next level. This will provide crucial impetus to businesses at various stages of development around the world, while also contributing to Aramco’s own long-term objectives.”Prior to the new capital allocation, Aramco Ventures managed three funds. These are a Digital/Industrial Fund, which stood at $500 million, investing in technologies of strategic importance to Aramco; the Prosperity7 Fund with $1 billion, investing in disruptive technology ventures beyond the energy sector; and the Sustainability Fund, which stood at $1.5 billion and invests in start-ups with the potential to support Aramco’s ambition to achieve net-zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions across its wholly-owned and operated assets by 2050.

Michael Stroband announced as CEO and President of Mercedes-Benz Cars ME

Michael Stroband has been appointed as President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Cars Middle East. He succeeds Martin Schulz who held the position since February 2021 and led Mercedes-Benz Cars Middle East and the General Distributor Network across Middle East, Central Europe and Africa. Michael joins the Middle East team with 15 years of experience across Retail, Marketing and Sales, Supply Chain and Production.As Mercedes-Benz undergoes strategic transformation to lead in electric mobility, vehicle software, and digitalization, Michael is set to build on excellent customer reputation, expand digitalization across the business, maintain success in the high-end luxury vehicle segment and build the core vehicle portfolio.His responsibilities also extend to the Mercedes-Benz General Distributor Network in Latin America and South East Asia for the Commercial Van segment, where he will focus on enhancing the customer experience and targeting profitable growth.Since 2011, Michael has held various leadership positions at Mercedes-Benz and Daimler Trucks. In his previous role, Michael was responsible for Product and Sales Management for Mercedes-Benz Cars in Germany. Commenting on his appointment, Michael Stroband, CEO and President of Mercedes-Benz Cars Middle East said, “I look forward to working alongside the Middle East team and our General Distributor Network to successfully drive the Mercedes-Benz strategy forward, while pushing digitalisation to deliver an exceptional and unified customer experience both online and offline. By focusing on our traditional strengths of leading in technology, we will continue to deliver the world’s most desirable cars that defines luxury mobility of tomorrow.”

SRMG accelerates its growth and transformation strategy

SRMG, the largest integrated media group from the MENA region, has announced significant operational changes with the launch of a new exclusively digital approach for Arriyadiyah, AlEqtisadiah and Malayalam News, effective January 19, 2024. Additionally, SRMG has announced the appointment of several new editors-in-chief, deputy editors-in-chief, and assistant editors-in-chief.This announcement aligns with SRMG’s digital transformation, growth and expansion strategy, demonstrating the Group’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of journalists and media professionals to meet the demands of audiences worldwide. This decision also reflects the significant shift in regional media consumption habits, particularly with the rising popularity of digital, social and audio-visual media platforms. These developments will optimize SRMG’s operational efficiency and support the production of innovative digital products across audio, video and written formats, which in turn will create new and diverse content offerings and marketing opportunities for advertisers across its digital platforms.Additionally, SRMG announced several appointments at the editor-in-chief level, empowering the next generation of media professionals and journalists. These individuals have demonstrated the skills and knowledge to meet the evolving demands of SRMG’s diverse audience across different generations, backgrounds and interests. The new appointments include:Ibrahim Hamidi has been appointed as Editor-in-Chief of Al Majalla, the Arab world’s leading current and political affairs magazine. With more than 22-years of experience, he has held various editorial positions at Al-Hayat Newspaper, including Director of the publication’s office in Damascus. Since 2017, he has served as a Senior Diplomatic Editor and Writer, covering Syrian affairs at Asharq Al-Awsat. Additionally, he oversaw the digital transformation of Al Majalla, leading to an impressive annual increase of 1704% in views.Fahim Al-Hamid has been appointed as the General Supervisor of Editorial Affairs for Malayalam News, Urdu News and Independent Urdu. With over three decades of experience in political journalism, Al-Hamid has actively covered Middle East and South Asian affairs, engaging with several political leaders and other prominent international figures.Mohammed Al-Bishi has been appointed as the Acting Editor-in-Chief of AlEqtisadiah, in addition to maintaining his current role as Managing Editor of Asharq Business with Bloomberg in Saudi Arabia. Al-Bishi has held a wide-range of editorial positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, AlEqtisadiah, Asharq Business with Bloomberg, which is ranked number one for digital economy news. His extensive economic and editorial expertise has played a pivotal role in the growth of Asharq Business with Bloomberg since its inception. This comes following the latest strategic decision from SRMG to restructure AlEqtisadiah under Asharq Business with Bloomberg, allowing it to focus on the most important global business and economic news and its impact on the region through in-depth high-quality analysis and coverage.SRMG has appointed several new assistant editors-in-chief and deputy editors-in-chief to sustain high-quality editorial processes, transfer knowledge and skills, and create innovative media content. The appointees are as follows:Mohamed Hani has been appointed as a Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, the leading international Pan-Arab newspaper. Hani brings a wealth of experience, having served in various editorial positions at Al-Hayat and currently at Asharq Al-Awsat. He played a pivotal role in the recent revamp of Asharq Al-Awsat, overseeing the media title’s digital transformation and growth strategy by drawing on his extensive experience in modern content management systems.Zaid bin Kami has been appointed as a Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. He previously served as Assistant Editor-in-Chief of AlEqtisadiah and Director of Economic News at Asharq Al-Awsat. Additionally, he worked as Managing Editor of Asharq Al-Awsat in Saudi Arabia from 2009-2014. He brings extensive experience in both print and video journalism, with a specialization in economics. He has actively participated in several international conferences, showcasing his broad and diverse expertise.Nour Nuqli has been appointed as a Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Arab News, having progressed through various editorial assignments. Notably, Nuqli played a significant role in the launch of the digital version of Arab News in French in 2020. She has also conducted prominent interviews with leading political figures, including US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. Nuqli has been instrumental in covering high-level conferences and has been part of the media delegation for His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's international tours.May AlSharif has been appointed as the Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Independent Arabia, having held several editorial positions within the publication, including her most recent role as Supervising Manager of the Riyadh office. During her tenure in the content creation department, AlSharif effectively implemented various projects and documentaries. Additionally, she oversaw the media title’s social media accounts, contributing significantly to the initial stages of the publication’s establishment and development.Jomana R. Alrashid, CEO of SRMG, said: “We are proud of SRMG’s achievements over the past three years since launching our ambitious growth and transformation strategy. This strategy was developed to address growing audience demand for accurate, in-depth, credible and high-quality content, and our investments aim to further cement the Group’s rich journalistic history through modern, innovative products and services.”Further commenting on this important step in SRMG’s digital transformation, Alrashid stressed that the Group’s growth and expansion strategy is “focused on maintaining our leading role at the forefront of the regional media landscape and reaffirming our commitment to meet the needs of our diverse audiences, utilizing innovative digital platforms.”

Merkle MENA welcomes Stacy Andersen as Deputy Managing Director

Merkle, dentsu’s leading technology-enabled, data-driven customer experience management company, today announces the appointment of Stacy Andersen as Deputy Managing Director, Merkle MENA. In this newly created role, Stacy will join Merkle’s regional leadership team and help drive growth across Merkle's client base, services and capabilities, with a focus on regional expansion.Stacy brings a wealth of experience and expertise in digital and business growth consultancy, omnichannel strategy, CXM, and transformation. With a career spanning over 18 years, Stacy has spent much of her career navigating an evolving digital landscape to deliver impactful solutions to clients across various industries and regions. In her new role, she will play a pivotal role in leading performance, strategy, and growth initiatives for Merkle MENA. She will oversee all performance accounts, including high-profile clients, while driving the adoption of capabilities beyond performance marketing to include data, AI, emerging technologies, SEO and experience.Prior to joining dentsu, Stacy held various leadership positions across major holding groups both in the Americas and MENA, with her most recent role being Head of Digital Transformation and Innovation at Publicis Groupe. She was responsible for opening Hearts & Science MENA, and previously worked at Merkle New York prior to dentsu’s acquisition of the company. Throughout her celebrated career she has worked with a diverse range of clients, including Neom, Majid Al Futtaim, Nestle, BMW, Samsung, One & Only, LVMH, Visa, and Amazon.Commenting on her appointment, Andreas Skopal, Managing Director of Merkle MENA, said: "Stacy's extensive experience, understanding of our business and our clients’ needs make her an invaluable asset to Merkle MENA. We are confident that her leadership will contribute significantly to our strategic objectives, bringing together creativity, technology and data to deliver seamless customer experiences. We are thrilled to have Stacy join the team and partner with her as we embark on our next phase of our growth."Expressing her enthusiasm for rejoining Merkle, Stacy added: "I am delighted to take on this new role with Merkle MENA to support the business in forging a new path for CX transformation in the region. The opportunity to partner with clients to accelerate their digital dexterity and enrich their customer experience through Merkle’s unique data and technology-enabled solutions is compelling, especially in a region that is at the forefront of digitization, innovation and economic diversification globally."

TijaraHub launches cutting-edge B2B e-commerce platform

With the beginning of the new year, TijaraHub announced the launch of its new e-commerce platform to support small and medium manufacturers in Egypt and Turkey to expand the reach of their products to global markets, enabling them to spread, penetrate promising markets, and grow sustainably. At the same time, the platform allows buyers to switch between various options and complete purchases from various approved suppliers.Mr. Mohamed Sharif, Co-founder and CEO of TijaraHub, said: “Our belief in the strength of Egyptian and Turkish products and their ability to compete globally, coupled with the revival of relations between Egypt and Turkey on both political and economic levels and the increase in the volume of trade exchange between the two countries, was the motivation behind launching this platform that will play a vital role in boosting exports of both countries, in particular achieving the Egyptian government's goal of USD 100 billion worth of exports annually. Furthermore, we envision the platform evolving into a regional hub for the Middle East, Europe, and Africa."The company's founders have more than 15 years of experience in international trade and have strong relationships with major buyers and manufacturers around the globe. The pandemic crisis, and the consequent growth of e-commerce, was a pivotal factor motivating the launch of the TijaraHub platform.Currently, the platform displays the products of more than 300 Egyptian factories in diversified industries such as food & beverage, fashion & textile, home appliances, and furniture, in addition to handicrafts, and it’s planned to reach 1,000 factories by the end of this year. Among the most prominent vendors on the platform from Egypt: El-Arabi Group, Crystal Asfour, Regina for Pasta & Food Industries, Dalydress, Cairo Poultry Processing Company (Koki), Libra Sport, Ariika, Manzzeli, Ceramica Cleopatra Group, Ragab El Attar Company, Janssen Egypt for Mattresses, Pure Misr. Additionally, the platform also includes vendors from Turkey such as Powertec, Simply, FemCasual, Avecon Republica, Simper, Fakira, Merkur, Bubbles cosmetics, Schnider, BYBURT69, and others.The platform aims to attract buyers from the Middle East and Europe as a first stage, especially the Arab Gulf countries, which are among the promising markets for Egyptian and Turkish exports across various sectors experiencing significant growth. The strong relations between the Gulf countries, Egypt and Turkey provide great opportunities for trade exchange and economic cooperation. supported by international trade agreements that facilitate logistics and reduce barriers.The platform offers a package of comprehensive services that ensure safe and simple trading experience for manufacturers and buyers, including a shipping service that provides a hassle-free door-to-door delivery experience, in cooperation with Saudi NAQEL express, FedEx, SMSA Express, and addition to diverse and secure payment service for more than fifteen payment methods that enable buyers to pay in flexible installments plans up to nine months, to a comprehensive inspection service for products before, during, and after the manufacturing process in cooperation with SGS and Intertek.The platform is currently available through website, and It’s planned to introduce mobile applications for both Apple and Android devices by March 2024 to provide an integrated experience for vendors and buyers.

FitnGlam appoints fitness pioneer George Flooks as Group CEO

Wellness Forward Group, parent company of the UAE’s premium women-only fitness SuperClub, FitnGlam, have announced the appointment of industry veteran George Flooks as the Chief Executive Officer. Specialising in luxury fitness and wellness, Wellness Forward Group is a luxury conglomerate proudly housing three exclusive brands – FitnGlam, Platform Studios and FitCode. With 13 years’ experience as the CEO of one of the largest fitness chains in the UAE, George successfully oversaw the comprehensive growth and management of all their fitness clubs in the MENA region, solidifying the brand's prominence in the fitness industry. Prior to working in the Middle East, Flooks managed and led a portfolio of over 160 clubs across the UK and Northern Ireland, contributing to an annual revenue of 150 million GBP. “The Wellness Forward Group is a business I have always admired, both for its impressive growth and its unique mission to revolutionise fitness across the UAE. I look forward to building on the success of the team and leading them through this exciting phase of development and expansion while maximising the longer-term opportunities as the demand for fitness, health and wellbeing continues to increase in the region,” comments George Flooks. As a board member of the Health and Racquet Club Group, George was Instrumental in its growth from 8 to 86 clubs, with a membership of one million, George played a key role in listing the Health and Racquet Club Group on the South African stock exchange and facilitating the strategic sale to Virgin Active. As a seasoned athlete, George’s commitment to physical training is rooted in his past role as a Physical Training Instructor (PTI) in the South African military. George holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and Administration from the University of West Virginia Wesleyan, and a Masters degree in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).Embodying the perfect fusion of leadership, athleticism and passion, George will be responsible for steering The Wellness Forward Group towards new business objectives and expansion across the portfolio, including the current expansion of FitnGlam into the Ras Al Khaimah market in the UAE.

Professionals prefer UAE, KSA rather than relocating to Europe: LinkedIn

According to new research from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, professionals in the UAE and KSA prefer working in the region rather than relocating to Europe or the USA.82% of surveyed professionals expressed this sentiment, with standard of living (46%), attractive lifestyle (35%), and opportunities for professional growth (31%) making the region a preferred destination for working professionals. This comes as no surprise as the UAE emerged as one of the most resilient international markets when it comes to hiring, with a 0.3% annual increase in hiring, up by 30% compared to pre-pandemic December 2019.Professionals aim to reclaim their careers in the new year as a significant number of them (62%) are either actively looking for a new job, or plan to start looking for one soon. Better salaries (42%) and the need for a better work life balance (33%) are the top two reasons for professionals seeking a career move.However, it is worth noting that 73% of professionals in the UAE and KSA are considering finding new homes due to rising rent prices, underscoring the correlation of affordable housing with retaining talent within the region.Skills remain at the core of the future of work in UAEThere is a growing understanding of the importance of skills in the UAE labor market, with more professionals highlighting their skills instead of degrees when looking for a new job (83%).Professionals are notably focused on upskilling, as 76% of them said that they would take on more stretch projects at work to diversify their skills, and spend more time than usual doing online courses to boost their career progression (72%).Following the last few years of uncertainty in the workplace, 84% of UAE professionals are keen to future-proof their careers by focusing on skilling.KSA professionals are confident about their careers in 202479% of KSA professionals state confidence about interviewing for a new role, and 78% feel confident about searching for a new job. This confidence stems from a significant number of them (77%) believing that their job prospects in 2024 are better than last year.More KSA women are pursuing career moves in 2024 (61%) than men (57%), citing a desire for better pay (39%) and better work-life balance (34%) as opposed to men (30%). Women in KSA state satisfaction in their current job as the main reason for not wanting to look for a new one (57%), while men said that their main reason is good salary and benefits (52%).Ali Matar, EMEA Growth Markets Leader and Head of LinkedIn MENA, says: “In 2024, we are seeing UAE and KSA professionals taking agency and moving to the driver's seat when it comes to their careers. This will give rise to a more competitive job market, so standing out from other candidates will be more important than ever. Fortunately, we do see an appetite amongst professionals in our region to upskill and invest in building their personal profiles on LinkedIn. Highlighting how one’s skills are relevant to the job they want and staying on top of industry trends will also improve chances of finding the right opportunity.”LinkedIn has also unlocked free LinkedIn Learning Courses such as A Career Strategist's Guide to Getting a Job; Navigating Your Career Through Restructuring, Layoffs, and Furloughs and Recession-Proof Career Strategies to help professionals. These courses are available from 17 Jan 2024 until 1 July 2024.Jobs on the Rise - the fastest-growing roles and trends defining the future of workToday we also unveil our annual Jobs on the Rise lists in the UAE and in KSA, featuring the 15 fastest-growing jobs over the past five years and the trends defining the future of work.Whether it’s the rise in finance and tech roles or new opportunities in healthcare, the rankings shed light on where the workforce is heading and the skills needed to get ahead. No matter what stage of your career you’re in, these lists can give you actionable insights to help you future-proof your career and prepare for the jobs of the future.Appendix: LinkedIn’s Jobs On The Rise and Top Skills List in the UAEReal Estate Consultant: Residential real estate, real property, investment propertiesPartnerships Specialist: Strategic partnerships, business development, digital marketingMortgage Advisor: Mortgage lending, residential mortgages, bankingPrivate Client Advisor: Retail banking, credit, financial advisoryGrowth Manager: Growth strategies, growth hacking, search engine optimization (SEO)BIM Architect: Navisworks, Revit, architectural drawingsSales Development Representative: Cold calling, lead generation, business-to-business (B2B)Banking Officer: Retail banking, investment banking, commercial bankingBack End Developer: REST APIs, back-end web development, microservicesFront End Developer: React.js, Redux.js, React NativeTax Associate: Tax advisory, value-added tax (VAT), corporate taxFinancial Auditor: International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), auditing, financial audits3D Artist: 3D modeling, Autodesk 3ds Max, texture mappingChief Marketing Officer: Digital marketing, marketing strategy, social media marketingProduct Designer: Wireframing, Interaction design, prototypingLinkedIn’s Jobs On The Rise and Top Skills List in the KSAPatient Care Technician: Patient safety, nursing, healthcareInformation System Analyst: Systems analysis, information technology, business analysisBIM Coordinator: Navisworks, Revit, SynchroHealth and Safety Manager: NEBOSH, health, safety and environment (HSE) management systems, incident investigationHuman Resources Operations Specialist: HR policies, HR management, HR operationsEnvironmental Specialist: Environmental impact assessment, environmental compliance, environmental management systemsPartnerships Specialist:  Strategic partnerships, partner relationship management, business developmentProject Management Specialist: Project management office (PMO), project planning, project coordinationLegal Specialist: Legal writing, legal research, legal assistanceContent Creator: Creative content creation, video editing, social media marketingInterface Specialist: User interface design, user experience design (UED), user experience (UX)Talent Acquisition Specialist: recruiting, sourcing, talent managementCommercial Manager: Commercial management, contract negotiation, contract managementCompliance Specialist: Regulatory compliance, anti-money laundering, compliance managementProcurement Contract Specialist:  Contract management, contract negotiation, procurement contractsMethodologyThe research was conducted by Censuswide, among a sample of 16288 White collar professionals in full time or part time employment (Excluding business owners and manual unskilled workers) across Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, India, Singapore, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Brazil and the US. The data was collected between 24.11.2023 - 15.12.2023. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct which is based on the ESOMAR.