A New Chapter Unfolds: Mitgo Group Welcomes Co-CEO Artem Ozerkov

In a pivotal moment for Mitgo Group, Alexander Bachmann, CEO, has announced a strategic leadership transition after 14 years of dedicated service. This significant shift introduces Artem Ozerkov as the Co-CEO, a move designed to fortify the company’s long-term objectives.Artem’s journey within Mitgo Group has been marked by his dedication, holding various key positions within the company. Notably, he played a crucial role in initiating an Adizes course in Austria, an experience that played a fundamental role in shaping Mitgo Group’s understanding of vision, mission, values, and organizational structure. This strategic move paved the way for the evolution of Mitgo Group from a mono-business entity to a dynamic international group of companies.This trust enables the CEO to shift focus towards critical areas such as Product, IT, Legal, Finance, Corporate Venture, Research & Development (MitgoX), and Strategic Development. Artem, in turn, will focus on existing business units, strategic partnerships, marketing, sales, analytics, organizational development, and administration.As Mitgo Group moves forward with this innovative leadership structure, the collaboration between the CEO and Co-CEO sets the stage for an exciting chapter in our company’s extraordinary journey.In celebrating this transition, we look forward to witnessing the continued success and evolution of Mitgo Group under the shared leadership of Alexander Bachmann and Artem Ozerkov.

TBWA\RAAD appoints Tony Kayouka as Head of social and content

TBWA\RAAD has announced the appointment of Tony Kayouka as its new Head of Social and Content. In this strategic role, Kayouka will play a pivotal part in advancing the agency's growth strategy and reinforcing its commitment to delivering disruptive and innovative creative content.As the Head of Social and Content, Tony Kayouka will take charge of TBWA\RAAD’s social media initiatives, concentrating on crafting compelling narratives and spearheading impactful campaigns. His focus is on adopting authentic approaches and integrating meaningful strategies that resonate with the audiences of client brands, establishing solid connections.Commenting on the appointment, Reda Raad, Group CEO at TBWA\RAAD, said: "In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, social media and content creation hold increasing power. Ensuring the digital growth of our clients is crucial. Tony’s appointment aligns perfectly with our dedication to creating agile and exceptional creative content. With his extensive experience and unique perspectives, he will undoubtedly contribute to our ongoing efforts in delivering groundbreaking social campaigns that resonate with culture, enhancing our clients’ online presence."Sharing his thoughts on the new role, Tony Kayouka added: “I’m thrilled to be joining TBWA\RAAD where passion is contagious. The team’s creative work stems from a profound determination to push conventional boundaries and surpass expectations. I'm eager to contribute my perspective and expertise to the agency’s growth while embracing the disruptive spirit that sets TBWA at the forefront of the advertising industry.”With a track record of success spanning diverse industries, including FMCG, F&B, QSR, Entertainment, Tourism and Hospitality, Governmental, Utility, Technology, and Automotive, Tony brings 16 years of experience to the table. His impressive journey as an early adopter has seen him navigate and shape the evolving landscape of digital media, mastering new platforms, and transforming data into captivating narratives.

MIS invests $5M in OpenAI, signaling Saudi commitment to AI growth

Riyadh-based Al-Moammar Information Systems Company (MIS) has made a splash in the international AI scene, snapping up a $5 million stake in leading AI research lab OpenAI. This strategic investment, announced on the Riyadh Tadawul bourse, reflects MIS's commitment to capitalizing on the explosive growth of AI and positions it as a key player in this transformative technology. The deal, secured through a private stock sale round of OpenAI employee shares, underscores OpenAI's soaring valuation, now pegged at a staggering $86 billion. Decisive Capital Management, a respected Swiss firm, advised MIS on this strategic move.This investment builds upon a recent decision by MIS's board of directors to allocate $10.7 million towards an international AI investment portfolio. By seizing opportunities in this burgeoning field, MIS aims to gain crucial access to cutting-edge technologies and propel its own growth.OpenAI, at the forefront of AI research, boasts groundbreaking achievements like ChatGPT, a large language model revolutionizing natural language understanding and innovation. With this investment, MIS aligns itself with a trailblazer shaping the future of AI, potentially unlocking valuable insights and partnerships for its own ventures.MIS's bold move sends a clear message: Saudi Arabia's tech sector is on the rise, ready to seize the immense potential of AI and redefine its role on the global stage. This strategic investment promises not only substantial returns for MIS but also opens doors for future collaborations and knowledge transfer, accelerating the Kingdom's journey towards a vibrant AI-powered future.

Expect responsible, ethical use of AI: Cisco

Developments in Artificial intelligence (AI) have been impacting businesses, governments, and economies across the world, and the Middle East is no expection. Advancements in AI, especially generative AI (GenAI), are leading to a once-in-a-generation shift. This is opening vast new opportunities and transforming industries, modes of operation, and career paths.The Cisco AI Readiness Index has revealed that 95% of respondents have an AI strategy in place or under development, but only 14% are fully ready to integrate AI into their business. In the UAE, the Index indicated that strategy readiness stands out as the most developed aspect, with 73% of organizations deemed “fully prepared”.Cisco’s AI predictions for 2024 focus on what organizations can do to adopt and integrate AI while adopting trust and security measures and regulations, and how innovators can leverage that technology to remain competitive. Reem Asaad, Vice President, Cisco Middle East and Africa, commented: “The immense potential of AI and data analytics is expected to generate monumental benefits for the Middle East. The region is continuously pioneering technology adoption, and we are seeing companies exploring new ways to harness the power of AI for operational efficiency, revenue and market share growth, and harnessing innovation to adapt to customer needs.”She added: “This year's AI trends reflect a deepening sophistication and caution in AI development and deployment strategies, with an eye to ethics, safety and the evolving regulatory landscape. Trust between people and the AI systems and tools they use is fundamental and non-negotiable. That means providing clarity on what AI can and cannot do with new data transparency and responsibility frameworks, new efforts to educate people and businesses about how disruption might happen, teaching the skills that will be needed for new AI-enabling and -enabled jobs, and new ways to collaborate with the best interests of people at heart.At Cisco, we are already integrating differentiated AI capabilities into our portfolio — and doing it responsibly. We see a future with AI that’s innovative, efficient, and trustworthy, not to mention more sustainable and equitable.”1. GenAI will fast expand into the business world with GenAI-powered NLIs, customized LLMs, tailored B2B applications and business context.Natural language interfaces (NLIs) powered by GenAI will be expected for new products and more than half will have this by default by the end of 2024. GenAI will also be leveraged in B2B interactions with users demanding more contextualized, personalized, and integrated solutions. As a result, observability for AI will grow.2. A movement for responsible, ethical use of AI will begin with clear AI governance frameworks that respect human rights and values.Adoption of AI is sitting at the intersection of innovation and trust. Yet, 76% of organizations don’t have comprehensive AI policies in place. There is mostly general agreement that we need regulations/policy and industry self-policing and governance to mitigate the risks from GenAI.We must also ensure that consumers have access to and control over their data.With the rising importance of AI systems, available public data will soon hit a ceiling and high-quality language data will likely be exhausted before 2026. Organizations need to shift to private and/or synthetic data which opens the possibility for unintended access and usage.3. Consumers and companies will face increased risks from AI-generated disinformation, scams, and fraud, prompting tech companies and governments to work together for solutions.In 2024, AI-enabled disinformation, scams, and fraud will continue to grow as a threat to businesses, people, and even candidates and elections. In response, we’ll see more investments in detection and risk mitigation.We’ll also see more collaboration between the private sector and governments to raise threat awareness and implement verification and security measures. Businesses must prioritize advanced threat detection and data protection, regular vulnerability assessments, updating security systems, and thorough audits of network infrastructures. For consumers, vigilance will be key to protecting identities, savings, and credit.4.  Unleashing the future of AI-driven customization, enterprises will embrace the power and potential of API abstraction.In the year ahead, businesses will seek innovative ways to leverage the immense power and benefits of AI without the complexity and cost of building their own platforms. Application programming interfaces (APIs) will play a pivotal role. With access to a vast array of AI capabilities through APIs, teams will automate repetitive tasks, gain deeper insights from data, and enhance decision making.This year will also mark the beginning of a race to API-driven customization where organizations can choose and combine APIs from various providers, easily tailoring AI solutions to meet unique and novel requirements.5.  Continued modernization will yield collaboration, modern converged platforms, and a little help from AI, to reveal a new programming experience – and better software.As organizations continue to modernize, software development will change with novel tools, approaches, and technologies. Programmers will leverage platforms and collaboration – and even a little help from AI – to centralize toolkits and unlock newfound efficiency so they can focus on delivering exceptional digital experiences.Some will continue struggling with disparate point solutions, leaving security gaps and software supply chain issues. Innovators will use AI to speed up delivery and handle tedious tasks like testing for defects and errors. Along the way, collaboration tools and AI assistants will be trusted companions as teams tackle the intricacies of security, observability, and infrastructure. Humans checks and balances must ensure AI-based decisions are fair, unbiased, and aligned with ethical and moral values. We believe AI should augment human decision making, not replace it entirely.

Oppo secures fourth place in global smartphone market in 2023

According to the latest data from IDC, OPPO ranked fourth in the global smartphone market in 2023, securing 8.8% of the total market share with over 103.1 million shipments.Despite the overall downward trend of the smartphone market in the same year, OPPO reached over 600 million global monthly active users across more than 60 markets through its outstanding products. Canalys data revealed that, by the third quarter of 2023, OPPO was among the top three in 20 regional markets.OPPO's relentless drive for innovation was on full display in 2023, with the launch of well-received new flagship smartphones, including the Find X6 Series and the Find N3 Series. OPPO's foldable phones held a strong market share, with Counterpoint data showing an impressive 20% of the Chinese foldable market in the first half of the year, and the Find N2 Flip held the top spot with a 31% market share among vertical foldable smartphones.OPPO's global performance could not have been possible without continuous R&D investments. OPPO currently has more than 54,000 granted patents, ranking sixth globally, and leading in key areas such as imaging, 5G communications, and AI. In 2023, OPPO introduced its self-trained large language model AndesGPT, whose performance on the OpenCompass evaluation platform ranked first among models at the 7 billion parameter level.OPPO's innovations have received global acknowledgment. In the past year, OPPO Air Glass won the 2023 Edison Best New Product Award, and OPPO Zero-Power Tag for battery-free communication, was named to TIME’s List of Best Inventions of 2023. OPPO also achieved fruitful outcomes in green innovation. Its self-developed Battery Health Engine also helped OPPO earn the 2023 SEAL Sustainable Product Award and a place on the Fast Company's "Top 10 Most Innovative Asia-Pacific Companies of 2023".

Dragon Boat Race Series returns to Hudayriyat Island after successful debut

Following the immense success of the Hudayriyat Dragon Boat Race’s first series, Hudayriyat Island, Abu Dhabi’s premier sports and leisure hub developed by Modon, brings you the second edition of this action-packed event.With the participation of 78 registered teams and 1,474 individuals, the first series made a major splash. It also brought together 4,500 spectators to observe the clash of paddles of professional and amateur dragon boaters. Feel the thrill of competition and join a weekend of fun at Hudayriyat Island. Set against the stunning backdrop of Marsana’s shores, the second series, much like the first one, will feature 200-meter water races spanning six categories: Open, Mixed, Women, Corporate, Community, and Schools/Universities. Come and watch teams within each category compete in heats, semi-finals, and ultimately the finals. Dragon boat racing, an ancient tradition hailing from China, exemplifies the beauty of embracing diverse cultures, fosters team spirit, and promotes a healthy and active lifestyle. The sport has a well-established presence in the region with a dedicated community of enthusiasts from diverse nationalities, who have cultivated strong connections through numerous national and international events over the years. Location:     Marsana, Hudayriyat IslandEvent Dates: Saturday, January 27 – Sunday, January 28Timings:      6am – 6pmEntrance:     Free

MoEngage’s Revenue Grows by 75% in the Middle East

MoEngage, the insights-led customer engagement platform, further strengthened its presence in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region growing by 75 % Y-o-Y in 2023. The martech software company is continuing with its upward trajectory by expanding its strong customer base in the United Arab Emirates and gaining new customers in markets like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan and Kuwait.This gigantic momentum reiterates its commitment to growth in the region and closely serves the needs of its local customers.  MoEngage has more than 150 customers in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region including more than 80 in the UAE, 30 in KSA, 15 in Egypt, and 15+ in the Levant region. These span across industries such as retail and E-commerce, banking and finance, telecom, airlines, healthcare, media, entertainment, travel, and hospitality. It added more than 80 customers in 2023.The impressive customer list includes the likes of retail giants Landmark, Apparel Group, Azadea, Alsaif gallery, NASDAQ listed shared mobility player SWVL , Kuwait’s Jazeera Airlines, music company MDLBeast, car rental/service apps like MySyara, CarSwitch and Dubicars as well as leading players in travel like Almosafer, Gathern and QSR master franchise like Alamar foods amongst others. The company now boasts more than 20 personnel in the region across sales, business development, customer success, solutions consulting, and marketing. It is currently looking to increase its headcount in 2024 by augmenting teams in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.. Additionally, MoEngage has also built a robust partner ecosystem that consists of over 75+ resellers, agencies, tech partners, and service integrators, which help to expand its reach and serve a wide array of customers. These include the likes of Mannai Infotech, e-cens, Labrys, Euphoria, and FreshTech Africa. These regional partners are in addition to global partnerships that MoEngage has with the likes of Mixpanel, Appsflyer, VWO, Branch, Amplitude, GupShup, Vonage, and others.From self-learning generative AI to hyper-personalized web experiences, MoEngage makes giant stridesApart from the business side, MoEngage has also made rapid strides in innovation and introduced new capabilities/features to its customer engagement platform. With MoEngage’s Merlin AI, Inform, Web Personalization, Google Ads Integration, and App Marketplace, brands in the Middle East and Africa can power up their Customer Engagement strategies.“2024 will bring a renewed focus on customer engagement and retention. Brands will recalibrate their strategies and will look to make use of a perfect partner which helps their cause. This is where MoEngage fits the bill. With a razor sharp focus in the region, MoEngage will further strengthen the engagement game of the brands by building an on ground team right from sales, business development, partnerships, and customer success. This will enable us to provide highly localized support to our customers and also develop a strong community of marketing, growth, and product professionals to share ideas”, said Raviteja Dodda, CEO and Co-founder of MoEngage.Community buildingIn 2023, MoEngage hosted multiple editions under its flagship #GROWTH brand in the Middle East, starting with Kuwait, Qatar, Dubai, Jeddah and Riyadh. The #GROWTH events saw more than 1200+ marketers across the region come together for some insightful discussions around themes like retention, omnichannel engagement, holiday marketing, etc.Moving forward in 2024, #GROWTH events will spread their wings even further with events in Egypt and South Africa amongst many others.Additionally, MoEngage plans to launch its community initiative, Women of Martech, to increase recognition of women and their contributions in the martech industry. This initiative aims to provide an inclusive platform for women in the martech domain in the Middle East.“To escape from the global gloom, fly to any leading capital of the Gulf, the only region in the world where economic growth forecasts are rising. With renewed focus on innovation, technology and non-oil revenues, the Middle East is probably the only region that is forecasting a good growth trajectory presently. MoEngage is poised to take advantage of this opportunity with its proven software, sustainable growth plans and a focus on customer delight”, said Kunal Badiani, regional vice-president, Middle East and Africa for MoEngage.Founded in 2014, the San Francisco and Bengaluru headquartered company, which operates on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, plans to help Middle Eastern businesses become customer-centric through personalized communication at every touchpoint across the lifecycle. The firm has on boarded experts in the leadership and mid-level management roles and are planning to expand their base of channel partners in the region.

Content spend to grow 2% in 2024, recovering from strike-hit 2023

In 2024, Ampere Analysis forecasts global content spend will increase by 2% year-on-year, following a plateau in content investment growth in 2023. Last year was predicted to deliver comparable growth, but WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike action led to a two percentage point decline relative to original expectations. In 2024, broadcasters’ and streaming services’ revival of postponed productions will steady the flow of content and push global content spending back into mild growth. Ampere has just published its forecast, with the analysts anticipating that the industry will reach $247bn in 2024, up on 2023’s $243bn.Global streaming services remain crucial for spend growth • Despite production reaching a near-complete halt in the USA, global streaming services were able to weather the storm and continue a steady delivery of new original content in 2023 with the help of non-US productions. • Heavier investment in original shows and movies from markets including Germany, India and South Korea helped boost global streaming services’ expenditure on original content to over $27bn, an increase of 13% year-on-year.• With a continued focus on international productions, the delayed release of US original titles, and an increased desire for sports rights, global streaming services are set to increase their total content spend by 7% in 2024 to $46bn.Election to boost US broadcasters, while theatrical studios cut back • Content investment by commercial broadcasters worldwide largely remains stagnant as they battle weaknesses in the TV advertising market. • However, while the US broadcasters were worst hit throughout the industrial action in 2023, the 2024 presidential election is set to bolster advertising revenue and content spend, preventing further decline this coming year. • By contrast, US theatrical studios are set to see a 14% year-on-year decline in content investment in 2024 due to the after-effects of strike action, and ongoing focus on cost-efficiency in a cinema market that remains depressed post-COVID. • Notable exceptions of this trend are Amazon and Apple which plan to increase theatrical releases. Apple will leverage theatrical content to increase brand awareness for its streaming service Apple TV+, while Amazon seeks to utilize MGM after its acquisition in 2022.Hannah Walsh, Principal Analyst at Ampere Analysis says: “2023 was a worse than expected year for content spend due almost entirely to the Hollywood strikes. The good news is we can look forward to a small recovery of 2% as production resumes and the US election approaches. Global streaming services are forecast to increase total content investment by 7% in 2024 and thus remain key for content spend growth. However, it’s not all rosy as many studios look to cut back on theatrical releases, and broadcasters cut spending due to ongoing declines in TV advertising.”

Saudi Arabia tightens reins on online delivery

The Saudi Transport General Authority (TGA) is revving up the engine of the Kingdom's online delivery sector with a series of new regulations. Geared towards boosting safety, efficiency, and local employment, these changes are set to reshape the industry by:1. Phased integration of non-Saudis: Over the next 14 months, non-Saudis will transition from independent delivery drivers to working through dedicated light transport companies. This move aims to improve service quality, standardize practices, and create more job opportunities for Saudi citizens.2. Monetization and innovation: The TGA is exploring the potential for targeted advertising on light delivery vehicles, in collaboration with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing. This could generate new revenue streams for companies and support the sector's growth.3. Balancing speed with safety: In coordination with the General Directorate of Traffic, the TGA is establishing regulations for motorcycle use in order deliveries. This aims to maintain the agility of two-wheeled delivery while prioritizing rider and pedestrian safety.4. Building trust and transparency: Companies operating in the sector will be mandated to implement facial verification systems for their drivers, directly linked to the TGA. This enhances accountability and provides greater peace of mind for customers.5. A unified image: Non-Saudi delivery workers will be required to wear a standardized uniform, promoting professionalism and fostering a sense of community within the industry.The TGA's vision is twofold:Effective regulation and governance: By raising the bar for service quality, safety, and transparency, the TGA aims to ensure a trusted and reliable delivery experience for all.Boosting Saudi participation: The phased integration of non-Saudis into light transport companies is designed to create more job opportunities for Saudi citizens, contributing to their economic empowerment and strengthening the national workforce.Above image is used from

Al-Futtaim Lexus hosts Content Lab to turn car enthusiasts into stylish creators

 In a dynamic collaboration with TikTok for Business Middle East and renowned content creators Amir De Leon and Mostafa Eldiasty, Al-Futtaim Lexus are transforming automotive enthusiasts into powerhouse content creators with the Lexus Content Lab.Hosted at Al-Futtaim Lexus DIP showroom, the Lexus Content educated audiences on creating unique, thrilling and engaging social media content around their beloved vehicles.Commenting on the initiative, Saad Abdullah, General Manager Marketing of Al Futtaim Lexus, said: “The design, performance and sophistication of Lexus models have inspired many exciting stories, both on-road and on digital media. The Content Lab was a natural extension of continuing this inspiring narrative for Lexus and motoring fans across the UAE. The relationship between car and owner is very personal, with many taking great pride in their beloved vehicles, and looking for unique ways to showcase them. However, car owners often don’t have the skills to create content that properly reflects the way they view their car. The Lexus Content Lab provides automotive enthusiasts with the relevant skills to create fantastic content that truly reflects the connection they have with their car.”Creative SessionsKicking off the sessions was Amir De Leon, who introduced attendees to his unique style of action-oriented edits. Already an educational content creator in his own right, Amir includes BTS content in all his heart-thumping edits. He describes his work process and hosted a demo for the attendees.Amir was followed by a session with renowned 3D artist and content creator Mostafa Eldiasty, aka 100.Pixels. Known for his completely out-of-the-box edits, Mostafa can lead the discussion surrounding 3D and other AR-driven UGC. Mostafa talked about his work process and demonstrated complex CGI effects.After the two sessions were complete, the attendees were invited to practice shooting their own videos and creating content, while working with Amir and Mostafa in the editing phase, as well as an editing suite with Mostafa where he guided the more advanced attendees on using his software.

The Walt Disney Company Earns 20 Oscar® Nominations

Nominations for the 96th Oscars® were announced today, with films from across The Walt Disney Company combining to earn 20 Academy Award® nominations. Congratulations to the teams at Walt Disney Studios, including 20th Century Studios, Lucasfilm Ltd., Marvel Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, and Searchlight Pictures, as well as Disney Branded Television, Disney+, Hulu, and National Geographic Documentary Films.Academy members from each of the 18 branches vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories—actors nominate actors, film editors nominate film editors, etc. In the Animated Feature Film, International Feature Film, and Live Action Short Film categories, nominees are selected by a vote of multi-branch screening committees, but all voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees.As previously announced, Jimmy Kimmel will return to host the show for the fourth time. Raj Kapoor will serve as showrunner and executive producer, with Molly McNearney and Katy Mullan serving as executive producers. Hamish Hamilton will direct the telecast for the fourth time.The Oscars ceremony will be held at the Dolby® Theatre at Ovation Hollywood. It will be televised live on ABC and in more than 200 territories worldwide. The Oscars will air live on Sunday, March 10, at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, following a 30-minute pre-show on ABC. The Oscars will also be rebroadcast in the Pacific Time zone in primetime following the live presentation. Following The Oscars, ABC will air an original episode of the hit Emmy® Award-winning comedy Abbott Elementary.Here is a complete list of The Walt Disney Company’s nominations:Poor Things | Searchlight Pictures11 NominationsBest Picture – Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Emma Stone (Producers)Best Directing – Yorgos LanthimosBest Actress in a Leading Role – Emma StoneBest Actor in a Supporting Role – Mark RuffaloBest Costume Design – Holly WaddingtonBest Makeup and Hairstyling – Nadia Stacey, Mark Coulier, and Josh WestonBest Music (Original Score) – Jerskin FendrixBest Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – Screenplay by Tony McNamaraBest Cinematography – Robbie RyanBest Film Editing – Yorgos MavropsaridisBest Production Design – James Price and Shona Heath (Production Design), Zsuzsa Mihalek (Set Decoration)The Creator | 20th Century Studios2 NominationsBest Sound – Ian Voigt, Erik Aadahl, Ethan Van der Ryn, Tom Ozanich, and Dean ZupancicBest Visual Effects – Jay Cooper, Ian Comley, Andrew Roberts, and Neil CorbouldBobi Wine: The People’s President | National Geographic Documentary Films1 NominationBest Documentary Feature Film – Moses Bwayo, Christopher Sharp, and John BattsekElemental | Pixar Animation Studios1 NominationBest Animated Feature Film – Peter Sohn and Denise ReamFlamin’ Hot | Searchlight Pictures, Hulu, and Disney+1 NominationBest Music (Original Song) – “The Fire Inside,” Music and Lyric by Diane WarrenGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 | Marvel Studios1 NominationBest Visual Effects – Stephane Ceretti, Alexis Wajsbrot, Guy Williams, and Theo BialekIndiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny | Lucasfilm Ltd.1 NominationBest Music (Original Score) – John WilliamsThe Last Repair Shop | Searchlight Pictures1 NominationBest Documentary Short Film – Ben Proudfoot and Kris BowersN?i Nai & Wài Pó | Disney Branded Television and Disney+1 NominationBest Documentary Short Film – Sean Wang and Sam Davis

Etisalat by e& strengthens collaboration with Oracle

Oracle announced a significant expansion of its collaboration with etisalat by e&. In a strategic move to enhance AI capabilities, etisalat by e& intends to deploy NVIDIA H100 GPU clusters within its Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) Dedicated Region, hosted at etisalat by e& Data Centers. This plan aims to facilitate the localization and development of cutting-edge AI services, elevating the standard of offerings across its product portfolio and business operations.As part of its comprehensive transformation initiative initiated last year, etisalat by e& selected OCI Dedicated Region as one of its primary cloud platforms. This decision aligns with the company's goals to streamline and modernize its operations and business support systems, fostering the growth of its digital services portfolio. With the plan of incorporating NVIDIA clusters into its dedicated Oracle cloud region, etisalat by e& will gain access to flexible, high-performance on-premesis computing resources. These resources will be pivotal in the rapid development and integration of new generative AI services into its portfolio over the next two years. Additionally, etisalat by e& will leverage the Oracle cloud platform to infuse AI services into its business applications, enhancing the efficiency of its business and operational processes.The accelerated computing capabilities provided by NVIDIA GPUs, coupled with OCI's AI Infrastructure featuring bare metal and RDMA cluster networking, will provide etisalat by e& with a diverse array of options for AI training. This allows for the agile and scalable development of innovative AI services.Khalid Murshed, Chief Technology and Information Officer (CTIO) at etisalat by e&, remarked, "At etisalat by e&, we are committed to continuous innovation, aiming to co-create value and growth with our customers. AI is becoming increasingly integral to the design and differentiation of our services, as well as the management of our business processes. Oracle Cloud Infrastructure equips us with essential AI capabilities, providing on-premesis computing resources that enable us to discover and develop new AI use-cases swiftly, cost-effectively, and at scale. Also, it will allow us to fine-tune and train our large language models (LLM)"Nick Redshaw, senior vice president – Tech Cloud, Middle East and Africa, and UAE Country Leader at Oracle, said, "Telecom companies are redefining their business models in response to changing customer expectations and expanding market landscapes. etisalat by e& is at the forefront of this transformation, and we are thrilled to bring the power and flexibility of OCI’s AI capabilities to support them in building and delivering the next generation of digital services for consumers and businesses."

Hyatt invites guests to “Be More Here” with new global brand platform in 2024

Hyatt is unveiling “Be More Here,” a new brand platform that invites guests, members and customers to lean into the transformative powers of travel and be more present. In a fast-paced world of what’s next and how to get there, World of Hyatt’s people, places, spaces and experiences encourage guests to truly be in the moment. Setting Hyatt apart as a leader in care and wellbeing, the brand platform launch coincides with new World of Hyatt loyalty program updates enabling members to earn more, have more choice in rewards, and even gift rewards to those they love. Encouraging meaningful connections, guests will find a robust list of offerings curated to support their individual wellbeing journeys – each with a unique approach to help them not only feel well but live well.  “Our guests have told us that they are looking to be more present and have meaningful experiences when they travel. In trying to fit everything into our busy lives, we tend to sacrifice authentic connections – to loved ones, colleagues, and even ones’ self - resulting in a renewed need to help our guests focus on the here and now,” said Laurie Blair, vice president, global marketing, Hyatt. “The ‘Be More Here’ platform encompasses a vibrant global portfolio of brands full of life and soul, and a loyalty program that rewards members for experiencing what this world has to offer. It’s just another way we are differentiating and elevating World of Hyatt by emphasizing guests’ needs and focusing on rekindling the art of connection.”Whether encouraging guests to “Be More Wanderlust,” “Be More Rewarded,” “Be More Mindful” or “Be More Immersed,” the “Be More Here” platform will mark a new way for Hyatt to demonstrate care through its growing global portfolio, reimagined World of Hyatt program updates and unique wellbeing experiences.Throughout January, the “Be More Here” platform creative will roll out across Hyatt’s owned social and digital channels, paid media across digital, social and video channels, out-of-home advertisements in travel hubs like airports and on-property touchpoints like signage, brochures and in-room TVs.A New World of WellbeingCentral to the “Be More Here” brand platform, Hyatt is providing even more ways for guests to care for their wellbeing. As a hospitality company focused on care, Hyatt takes pride in setting a new standard of wellbeing for travel, making sure every touchpoint is crafted with meaning and intent. Hyatt is making a continued commitment to updating current experiences and offering new ones that will enable stronger connections, including:MasterClass: Hyatt will offer the first-ever hospitality collaboration with MasterClass, the streaming platform where anyone can learn from the world’s best, bringing guests global, in-room access to captivating lessons across a variety of subjects including health and wellness, arts and entertainment, business, culinary and more. The exclusive relationship will give Hyatt guests and customers a way to learn and grow through curated content available at 350+ properties across the world. In celebration of their collaboration, Hyatt and MasterClass will kick off at Sundance Film Festival 2024 with a fireside chat at the World of Hyatt activation space with MasterClass instructor Issa Rae. More details on in-room content including lessons from Issa Rae's class, currently available to MasterClass members, to come as the program launches globally in early 2024. Headspace: Hyatt became the only hospitality company to offer members and guests a complimentary sampling of relaxing sounds from Headspace’s premium colored noise collection. Available within the World of Hyatt App and in-room television at more than 350 properties across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, these sounds can help guests focus, unwind and sleep. World of Hyatt FIND Experiences: Launched in 2022, Hyatt now has more than 500 global FIND experiences in 55 locations designed to support the wellbeing of guests and groups across all brands. From taking a traditional outrigger canoe trip in Maui to learning how to build a fire in the Berkshires, Hyatt properties are prioritizing thoughtfully crafted wellbeing experiences to support guests' personal wellbeing journeys.World of Hyatt Reimagines Loyalty + Rewards ExperienceMembers of the fastest-growing loyalty program in the hospitality industry can officially enjoy the newly expanded World of Hyatt Milestone Rewards with more awards as of January 1, 2024. Members can now “Be More Here” with more choice at more milestones, the options to choose earning points for future free nights, enhancing stays with suite upgrades or enriching their wellbeing through experiences, and sharing the World of Hyatt wealth with the ones they love most by gifting Guest of Honor.A Growing Global Collection of Thoughtfully Curated Hotels + ResortsDriven by an understanding of where our travelers want to go, Hyatt is encouraging guests to “Be More Here” through an ever-expanding global portfolio of properties and hotels. Hyatt recently announced a pipeline of 35+ new luxury properties across its Timeless, Boundless, Independent and Inclusive Collection brands that will give guests and members access to even more sought-after global destinations.Hyatt is also growing its portfolio for guests and members through acquisitions. The recently announced acquisition of Mr & Mrs Smith will unlock direct booking access in the near future to hundreds more boutique and luxury hotels, including in 20+ countries where there are currently no Hyatt hotels.

Gargash Group unveils new Mercedes-Benz brand center

Gargash Group has unveiled a new Mercedes-Benz Brand Center as part of its strategy to redefine the luxury retail experience. The center focuses on elevating customer experiences and brand interactions, representing a significant milestone for Gargash Group and the automotive sector. The design reflects Mercedes-Benz's core values of innovation, sophistication, and timeless elegance.Inside the Brand Center, visitors can explore a range of Maybach cars, including 'The Maybach Lounge' for personalized experiences. Notable features include 'The Car Wall' displaying 76 cars, a dedicated area for high-performance Mercedes-AMG models, and an off-road driving adventure with an academy for enthusiasts to test SUV capabilities.The Brand Center also serves as a hub for community engagement, featuring a "Town Square" hosting exhibitions, seminars, entertainment, and arts. A seasonal program offers events in lifestyle, design, arts, culture, technology, and automobiles. The center aims to inspire creativity among clients, artistic communities, and business circles.Facilities include the AMG Kaffeehaus cafe and a merchandise shop. The center plans to host ongoing activations covering education, entertainment, industry trends, and arts and culture. Overall, the Mercedes-Benz Brand Center is designed to provide a holistic brand experience, extending beyond a traditional showroom.

Kinokuniya and Saatchi & Saatchi launch “Offset Boxset”

Kinokuniya, the UAE's largest bookstore, has collaborated with advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, to launch "Offset Boxset," an innovative and actionable initiative that tackles the pressing issue of carbon emissions linked to excessive social media use.  Recent studies have revealed that an average person generates approximately 1.15 grams of carbon emissions for every minute spent on social media. With people averaging 10 hours per day on these platforms, the resultant carbon footprint is staggering - around 262 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year. Kinokuniya's Offset Boxset aims to redirect this trend towards a more sustainable habit: reading. The Offset Boxset is a meticulously crafted collection of books, chosen to offset the carbon emissions generated by an individual's social media usage. The number of books in each set corresponds to the reduction of 1, 2, 3, or 4 kilos of carbon emissions. These books are FSC Certified, ensuring a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to standard books. "We are thrilled to launch the 'Offset Boxset' initiative, embodying our commitment to merge reading with environmental responsibility. We envision a future where every page turned is a step towards a greener world," said Steve Jones, Store, Merchandise and Marketing Manager, Kinokuniya UAE. The sets are in store now and are displayed as part of an interactive educational exhibit, allowing individuals to understand their online behaviour's impact and select a boxset tailored to their needs. Customers also have the flexibility to customise their boxsets with books of their choice. This initiative goes beyond just selling books. It's about educating and empowering individuals to make a tangible difference in the fight against climate change. Customers are informed about the impact of their reading on carbon emission reduction, encouraging a shift from passive online consumption to active environmental participation. “Kinokuniya have always been about encouraging readers. Last year we showed how everyone has time to read by equating people’s social media time to the number of books they could have read in that same time. This year we’ve gone one step further. We’re giving Gen Z’s a more powerful reason to read - by showing them how reading could reduce the carbon emissions they would generate by using social media. It’s an ambitious idea, but to save the planet we believe every little counts”, Gautam Wadher, Executive Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi - Dubai

Jamal Al Kishi returns to Deutsche Bank as Chief Executive Officer, Middle East

Deutsche Bank announced today that it is hiring Jamal Al Kishi to be Chief Executive Officer, Middle East & Africa, and Vice Chairman of Origination & Advisory, Middle East & Africa, effective April 1, 2024, subject to relevant regulatory approvals. Al Kishi will replace Kees Hoving in his capacity as CEO for Middle East & Africa (MEA), who will focus on his roles within the Corporate Bank in Middle East & Africa and as Chief Country Officer for UAE going forward.Al Kishi returns to Deutsche Bank after spending four years as CEO of Gulf International Bank BSC in Bahrain and brings to the role nearly 30 years of banking experience in the Middle East. He previously served as CEO for MEA at Deutsche Bank from 2016 to 2020. Prior to that, he held a variety of senior management positions with Deutsche Bank, including Chief Country Officer of Saudi Arabia. He will be based in Riyadh, spending significant time in Dubai as well to manage our broad regional footprint and drive growth opportunities. He will report to Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Officer for Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Germany, and Member of the Management Board Alexander von zur Muehlen and Berthold Fuerst, Deutsche Bank Co-Head Investment Banking Coverage for Europe Middle East Africa.von zur Muehlen commented, “Following our successful strategic transformation, we are intensifying our focus on our growth ambitions. We see clear opportunity in key emerging markets like Middle East & Africa, and rising client demand as activity accelerates around its increasingly important growth corridors. Jamal has the thorough knowledge of our full platform in MEA and the client connectivity throughout the region that will help us capture the significant potential here.”Fuerst added, “We are delighted to bring back high caliber talent like Jamal to strengthen our strategic focus on C-Suite advisory throughout Middle East & Africa. Our platform is very well positioned to support growing client investment flows, both inbound and outbound, in this region.”Hoving remarked, “Leading our MEA business over the past few years has been an absolute pleasure. I’m pleased to pass the baton to Jamal for the next phase, which includes growing our Investment Bank and C-Suite access in the region. He brings the local experience and connections that will help us realize our lofty ambitions in this part of the world.” Deutsche Bank’s commitment in the MEA region is more than a century old. Since 2010, Deutsche Bank has more than doubled its capital commitment in the region, invested in key technology, and supported the ongoing development of the region’s financial markets. The bank has been a strong player in the Islamic Finance industry for over a decade and is recognized as a world-class provider of Islamic Finance solutions catering to evolving client needs.

Tarshid renews partnership with Formula E for third consecutive year

Ahead of Formula E’s return to the Kingdom for the 2024 Diriyah E-Prix this weekend, Tarshid, the National Energy Services Company, today announced it has renewed its partnership and sponsorship of the Diriyah E-Prix for the third consecutive year.The partnership, in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports, aims to promote sustainable technology, and reaffirms Tarshid's commitment to a sustainable future that aligns with the goals of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, the world's first fully electric-powered car racing series.Through this partnership, Tarshid intends to foster sustainability and promote optimal energy efficiency in the sport sector, while driving innovation in this field.Mr.Waled Al-Ghreri, CEO of Tarshid, said: “The renewal of this partnership is a testament to Tarshid’s unwavering commitment towards energy efficiency, and its mission to serve the Kingdom's strategic sustainability goal, support the prosperity of the Kingdom’s energy efficiency industry, and achieve significant energy savings. These align perfectly with the goals of Formula E, as Tarshid has been a partner for the past two years, 2022 and 2023, and continues to renew its partnership for the third time in 2024.”Carlo Boutagy, CBX Founder and CEO said: “It is fantastic to have Tarshid back on board as one of our partners for a third year in a row. The work the team is doing to pioneer energy efficiency aligns so well with the Diriyah E-Prix as we all work together to build towards a more sustainable future; us by showcasing the power of electric mobility, and Tarshid by providing sustainable solutions to increase energy efficiency in the Kingdom.”Nacho Calcedo, Diriyah E-Prix Event Director, Formula E, said: “We welcome Tarshid’s continued commitment to supporting the Diriyah E-Prix, and it reflects Formula E’s own commitment to bringing the world’s most competitive motorsport to Saudi Arabia. We are both dedicated to creating a sustainable and energy efficient future and are excited to showcase the pinnacle of elite sport and sustainability in our exciting racing this weekend.” Formula E was the first all-electric FIA World Championship, showcasing the use of electric cars and energy-efficiency solutions to reduce air pollution and combat climate change, which is aligned with Saudi Vision 2030. The 2024 Diriyah E-Prix offers a unique blend of fun, excitement, and energy efficiency while minimising environmental impact, with the racetrack illuminated by the latest low-energy LED technology.It is worth noting that Tarshid develops, manages, and finances energy efficiency projects for various sectors in the Kingdom, with the aim of leading the energy efficiency industry and contributing to building a sustainable future. Tarshid has addressed achievements of replacing more than 4.2 million lighting lamps across the Kingdom by the end of 2023, and increasing energy efficiency in over 22,000 government buildings, with an estimated reduction of over 6,000 GWh annually. This is equivalent to avoiding consumption of more than 10.9 million barrels of oil and preventing over 3.9 million metric tons of harmful carbon emissions, which is equivalent to the environmental impact of planting more than 64.6 million seedlings annually.

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.”