Mindshare’s Tarek Sharafeddine unveils the dynamic advertising scene in SA

Tarek Sharafeddine, Director of Client Leadership at Mindshare, brings over 15 years of media industry experience. His expertise spans diverse sectors including telecom, banking, government, automotive, and FMCG. Navigating challenges and seizing opportunities in the Saudi market, Tarek has gained valuable insights applicable across industries. His collaborative experience with diverse client portfolios showcases his adaptability to the specific needs and nuances of each sector.In an exclusive interview with Adgully Middle East, Tarek Sharafeddine talks about his professional journey, as well as his role in Mindshare. He also delves deeper into the ever-evolving Saudi media landscape, talking about the trends along with the challenges.Kindly share your professional journey with us. What have been the highs and lows of your career?I embarked on my professional journey in 2007 as a junior account executive with IPG Group at Initiative Media in Jeddah. Recognizing the potential in Riyadh's business landscape, I made the strategic decision to relocate. My tenure with Initiative lasted until 2020, when I sought to broaden my expertise within the industry. This led me to WPP Group, where I joined Mindshare as a Director—a role I continue to hold.Over the course of my 16-year-long career, I have actively managed diverse portfolios for clients spanning telecom, banking, automotive, FMCG, and governmental sectors. Throughout this journey, I've encountered both highs and lows. Notable high points include winning awards for our clients, receiving recognition, and earning a promotion for outstanding performance. Conversely, I've faced challenging moments, such as the uncertainty that followed the loss of significant accounts. However, these tough times have cultivated in me the ability to bounce back, inner strength, and a strong commitment to attain and provide excellent outcomes.As the Director- Client Relations, what are your role and responsibilities at Mindshare?My role is pivotal within the organisation, as it oversees the management and supervision of client relationships. This position requires strategic planning, negotiation skills, effective communication, and a profound understanding of client needs. Maintaining consistent communication with clients is paramount to ensuring satisfaction and addressing concerns promptly. Emphasis is placed on client retention, actively contributing to strategic plans for engagement and growth. Collaborating and communicating seamlessly with internal teams are crucial for effective service delivery. Selecting and training competent collaborators is also essential, as it significantly influences overall client feedback. In summary, this role plays a vital part in cultivating client satisfaction, loyalty, and contributing to the overall business growth of the organization.What are the key trends and challenges in the advertising and media industry in Saudi Arabia?The advertising landscape in Saudi Arabia is undergoing significant changes, marked by several notable trends. A prominent shift towards digital platforms is evident, with the rise of digital advertising, increased emphasis on social media marketing, and a surge in online content consumption. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing a pivotal role, utilized for personalization, targeted campaigns, and optimization. Data-driven decision-making has become a cornerstone of advertising strategies, providing advertisers with crucial insights into consumer behavior and preferences. Additionally, the adoption of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies in advertising is gaining momentum, offering consumers immersive and interactive experiences.Podcasts are emerging as a favoured medium for content consumption, presenting advertisers with new opportunities for message integration. Simultaneously, the integration of e-commerce into advertising strategies is expanding as brands seek to enhance the online shopping experience and promote products through digital channels.However, in the middle of these positive trends, the industry struggles with distinct challenges. Heightened concerns about data privacy require advertisers to adeptly navigate evolving privacy regulations and build trust with consumers. Cultural sensitivity is crucial and holds great significance, demanding advertisers to carefully consider nuances and sensitivities when crafting campaigns aligning with Saudi Arabian cultural values. The persistent challenge of obtaining access to quality data remains, especially in an environment where privacy regulations are in flux. This challenge significantly impacts the accuracy and reliability of data for targeted and personalized advertising. Navigating these challenges successfully is imperative for advertisers aiming to thrive in the dynamic and evolving advertising landscape of Saudi Arabia.How do you approach the integration of traditional and digital media in campaigns? Can you share any successful campaigns or projects that you have recently been involved in?An integrated media team that seamlessly combines expertise in both digital and traditional media is vital for effective and comprehensive campaign planning. By bridging the gap between these two realms, such a team ensures the maximization of campaign reach and impact across diverse platforms, catering to varying audience preferences. The consistent brand messaging maintained by integrated teams contributes to a unified brand identity, while their holistic understanding of the target audience allows for more adaptive and relevant campaigns. This collaborative approach enables efficient resource allocation, unified analytics, and reporting, promoting a synergy that optimizes campaigns across channels. Additionally, an integrated team is well-equipped to navigate evolving media trends, adapt to changes, and create a seamless user experience as consumers transition between digital and traditional media touchpoints. Ultimately, the integration of digital and traditional media expertise enhances the team's ability to create cohesive, impactful campaigns in the dynamic landscape of modern media consumption.What advice do you have for professionals aspiring to succeed in the media and advertising industry?It's important to keep learning about new trends and be ready to adapt. Learn a mix of skills for both traditional and digital media. Connect with people in the industry and make yourself stand out. Keep improving your skills with courses. Understand who you're talking to, communicate well, and be unique. Get practical experience through internships and be ready to take on challenges. Stay positive even when things get tough. Think about the global picture, work hard, and build good relationships. All these things will help you succeed in this exciting field “Avoid talking about your own achievements and allow others to share positive feedback about you.”How are you leveraging technology and data in the Saudi Arabian market to enhance advertising effectiveness?In the Saudi Arabian market, the effectiveness of advertising is undergoing a substantial enhancement through a strategic fusion of technology and data-driven methodologies. By utilizing powerful data analytics, advertisers gain valuable insights into consumer behaviour, demographics, and preferences, enabling precise targeting of specific audience segments. The use of programmatic advertising platforms automates the acquisition of digital ads, enabling immediate optimization of ad placements through bidding processes in real time. The deployment of AI and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms explores extensive datasets, refining ad targeting and personalizing content to cater to individual preferences.Geo-targeting and location-based advertising are tailored to local contexts, while mobile advertising and a robust presence on popular social media platforms. The integration of e-commerce, interactive content, and Augmented Reality (AR) experiences contributes to creating engaging and immersive brand interactions. Essential to these initiatives is the commitment to complying with data privacy regulations and building trust with consumers.

PwC ME announces alliance with human capital management platform Darwinbox

PwC Middle East has announced a new alliance with Darwinbox, the fastest growing human capital management (HCM) platform, which will enable the firm to enhance its HR technology solutions offered to clients across the Middle East. The alliance builds on PwC’s technology offering, bringing human-led, tech-powered solutions to its clients.Darwinbox is a next-generation human capital management platform with AI capabilities, intuitive digital experience for the workforce, and advanced HR analytics. PwC Middle East provides integrated workforce consulting, with the industry's leading subject matter experts to support clients with their HR, workforce and business transformations.The alliance will enable PwC to leverage Darwinbox's HR tech solutions to deliver high quality HR, efficient workforce services and seamless employee experiences for clients through Generative AI, automation and digitisation. PwC plans to optimise and enhance its current client services, combining Darwinbox’s suite of HR technology products and utilising the firm's multidisciplinary approach to help its clients transform and elevate their workforce. Darwinbox can seamlessly integrate and co-exist with any wider workforce technology ecosystem, which is key in a world where clients prefer a multi-system and yet achieve a seamless connected landscape.This alliance with Darwinbox is a significant step toward a more technologically advanced future for clients in the region, with PwC being the preferred implementation partner for Darwinbox in the Middle East markets.PwC considers generative AI as a key enabler that allows its people to work smarter and faster. The firm has continued to upskill its people in a multitude of ways to support its evolution, and to help them understand what they can do with these technologies. Generative AI is also valuable in generating richer insights and recommendations from large volumes of data, while driving greater productivity and new products and services. PwC’s alliance with Darwinbox reinstates its commitment to digital transformation capabilities.Eyhab Abdeen, Partner and Middle East Workforce Leader at PwC Middle East, commented: "This alliance is a testament to our dedication to offering the best-in-class solutions to our clients in the Middle East. With Darwinbox's innovative HR technology, we will enhance workforce management and provide a more digitally-driven approach to human capital challenges. I welcome our clients to join us at our upcoming People Pioneer events, in KSA and the UAE where we will share more about technology disruption and what this means for HR leaders. "Chaitanya Peddi, Co-founder and Product Head at Darwinbox, has said: “Darwinbox is on a mission to elevate the experience of everyone in the organization, down to the last-mile employee, while empowering HR to be a strategic powerhouse. We’re creating the future of work, and our partnership with PwC Middle East will accelerate our mission. We believe that PwC's depth of strategic insights and practical expertise in steering technological transformations will unlock true value for the customers.”Arun Bharadwaj, Regional Director, HCM, MENA at Darwinbox, added: “We are thrilled to announce our alliance with PwC, marking a significant milestone in our journey toward revolutionising HR technology in the Middle East. By combining Darwinbox's advanced HR tech solutions and PwC's commitment to providing unparalleled HR services and workforce efficiency, we are now set to offer better and seamless talent management, and high-quality employee experience, thereby transforming the way we work.”

Honeywell appoints Khaled Hashem as President of the Middle East & Africa region

Honeywell announced the appointment of Khaled Hashem as President of the recently consolidated Middle East and Africa [MEA] region for the company.In this position, Hashem will spearhead Honeywell’s strategy for MEA, focused on driving the company’s global alignment to the three megatrends of automation, the future of aviation and the energy transition, all the while shaping a diversified portfolio of products and solutions tailored for the local market, driving key customer engagements and building the talent and leadership pipeline.Hashem’s appointment marks the latest milestone in Honeywell’s long-term commitment toward advancing the localization, sustainability, digital transformation and smart infrastructure objectives across the broader region.“I am immensely proud of both our presence and impact across the Middle East and Africa region and am excited about what more we can do as we expand our focus on the three megatrends,” said Anant Maheshwari, President and CEO, High Growth Regions at Honeywell. “Honeywell continues to be well positioned for growth in the region and I am confident that Khaled will be able to capitalize on these opportunities to help further expand and embed our business.Khaled joined Honeywell in 2016 as President of Egypt and Libya, before expanding his responsibilities in 2019 to lead all of North Africa. During his tenure, he has played a key role in driving operational and sales excellence and deepening customer engagement. Prior to joining Honeywell, Khaled held leadership positions at General Electric and ExxonMobil.“The impact of Honeywell’s products, tools and technology is part of almost every facet of our daily life, and to have the opportunity to lead such a historic organization across this region is something I am extremely proud of,” said Hashem. “The work we are doing on a daily basis with our customers is having a profound impact on local industry and I am excited to continue taking this forward.”In the region for more than 60 years, Honeywell’s solutions blend physical products with advanced software to create value for customers while supporting long-term national development visions and economic diversification across the region. Today, the company supplies cutting-edge technology to the oil and gas, refining, petrochemical, aviation, climate control, fire safety, logistics and security industries, amongst others. Headquartered in Dubai with offices across the Middle East, Honeywell is a leading enabler of smart buildings and smart cities.

Shoppers spin away prizes as DSMG's ‘Shop, Spin & Win’ campaign concludes

The Dubai Shopping Malls Group (DSMG) has successfully wrapped its ‘Shop, Spin and Win campaign’, held in conjunction with the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF). From December 8, 2023, to January 14, 2024, shoppers immersed themselves in the thrill of retail therapy across participating malls, seizing the golden opportunity to win substantial cash prizes.Participation in the campaign was simple yet rewarding. Shoppers who spent AED 200 or more found themselves entered into a draw, giving them the chance to spin the wheel at the DSF main stage. The wheel of fortune presented an array of cash prizes, starting at AED 10,000 and progressively increasing through denominations of 15,000, 20,000, 25,000, 30,000, and 40,000. With draws spread across the five weeks of DSF, the campaign created 22 fortunate winners.Commenting on the success of the campaign, Majid Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Shopping Malls Group, said, “We are thrilled to witness the immense enthusiasm and participation from shoppers during this year's Dubai Shopping Festival. The Shop, Spin and Win campaign aimed to add an extra layer of excitement to the shopping experience, and the response has been overwhelming. Congratulations to all the winners. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who contributed to the success of DSF.”The campaign not only added an element of surprise and joy to the shopping festivities but also showcased the commitment of DSMG to create memorable experiences for the community. As Dubai continues to position itself as a global shopping destination, initiatives like these contribute to the city's vibrant and dynamic retail landscape.

Victor Khayat appointed Account Director at Like Digital & Partners

Like Digital & Partners, an award-winning digital transformation agency with a global presence, is delighted to announce the appointment of Victor Khayat as Account Director in the agency’s fast-growing Dubai office.An experienced account director and self-described CX evangelist, Khayat will help drive business development, account management, strategy, and digital transformation for Like Digital & Partners’ suite of luxury clients. Drawing on a decade of experience in sales, Khayat brings a wealth of expertise in technology and composable commerce to the fore, aligning with Like Digital & Partners vision for the future of e-commerce, grounded in cutting-edge digital solutions.Khayat’s responsibilities at Like Digital & Partners include identifying new opportunities for growth, maintaining and expanding the technological partnership ecosystem, continuing to build the brand’s enviable client portfolio, advising regional customers on digital roadmap and technological landscape for ecommerce and marketing technologies and strengthening the position of the agency as a global leader in digital transformation.His distinguished career encompasses key sales roles in Europe and the Middle East, including Business Development Manager at Akinon, and Business Development Representative ­for Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud in MENA and the GCC. Throughout his career, Khayat has continued to expand his expertise and knowledge base, undertaking a Master of Science – Marketing, at ESA Business School.Commenting on the appointment, Karl Escritt, CEO at Like Digital & Partners, said, “We are delighted to welcome Victor to our team. His growth mindset, passion for development, commitment to excellence and in-depth knowledge of latest e-commerce advancements will bring exceptional expertise to our fast-growing portfolio, opening unrivalled opportunities for our agency and our client base.”Expressing his enthusiasm about joining Like Digital & Partners, Victor Khayat said, “I am thrilled to join Like Digital & Partners in a role that will enable me to contribute to the agency’s continued growth and success. With a passion for understanding and solving critical challenges, and a dedication to delivering the ultimate in CX and composable commerce, I feel a strong affinity with Like Digital & Partners and their vision for the future of digital transformation.”With offices in Dubai, London, Paris, and the forthcoming addition of an office in Riyadh, Like Digital & Partners continues to fortify its team and lead the charge in driving digital innovation and excellence on a global scale.

Air Arabia expands European network with new direct flights to Athens

Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa’s first and largest low-cost carrier (LCC) operator, announced the launch of its newest route connecting Sharjah with Athens, the capital of Greece. Commencing operations on June 28th, 2024, the new launch underscores the airline’s commitment to promote affordable travel around the world.The new service will operate with a frequency of 4 weekly flights, providing travelers with a direct and efficient connection between the two vibrant cities. With this latest addition to its expanding network, Air Arabia aims to facilitate increased accessibility for both business and leisure travelers, fostering economic and cultural ties between the UAE and Greece.Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia, said: "We are glad to announce the start of our non-stop service connecting Sharjah with Athens, a city known for its rich history, culture and business opportunities. The launch of Air Arabia’s flights to Athens reflects our ongoing commitment to provide our customers with seamless connectivity between the two cities while offering an accessible and affordable travel options. We look forward to welcoming our passengers onboard to explore the ancient city of Athens.”Air Arabia operates a fleet of Airbus A320 and A321 neo-LR aircraft, the most modern and best-selling single aisle aircraft in the world. The cabin configuration across the fleet provides added comfort with one of the most generous seat-pitch compared to any economy cabin. The aircraft is equipped with ‘SkyTime’, a free in-flight streaming service that allows passengers to access a wide selection of entertainment directly to their devices. Customers can also enjoy a variety of delicacies between snacks, meals, and sandwiches from the on-board ‘SkyCafe’ menu at affordable prices.Customers can now book their direct flights from Sharjah to Athens by visiting Air Arabia’s website, calling the call center, or through travel agencies.

Saudi Arabian mall operator Cenomi Centers transforms with Salesforce

Cenomi Centers, the largest fully integrated retail and shopping center operator in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has transformed its efficiency and ability to serve customers by deploying Salesforce Service Cloud, a powerful CRM solution that gives it a 360-degree view of customers and the ability to deliver seamless omni-channel experiences. Cenomi Centers currently operates 22 malls in cities across Saudi Arabia and welcomes more than 110 million visitors per year.Cenomi Centers, which deployed Salesforce Service Cloud in October, was keen to enhance its ability to understand its customers and serve them across multiple physical and digital touchpoints. The solution has given Cenomi a 360-degree view of its customers, enabling it to engage with them in a more seamless, personalised way, whether they are making an enquiry at a customer service point in a mall, making or phone call, or sending an email.“Service Cloud empowers Cenomi Centers to capture and gain value from our data, improving our understanding of customer behaviour at all stages of their journey, and helping us make more informed decisions that enhance customer service and the overall mall experience,” said Binoo Joseph, Group Chief Technology & Information Officer, Cenomi Group. “We were impressed by the quick time-to-value, seeing immediate gains after deploying the solution in October. We’re excited to build on this momentum as we expand the integration of Salesforce solutions across our operations.”As part of its expansion, Cenomi is set to bring online additional malls over the coming years. Gaurav Bhandari, Group VP- Enterprise & CRM, Cenomi Group said that the scalability afforded by Service Cloud was a key factor in its selection. Cenomi’s management team estimates that the solution will soon deliver overall savings of 44% compared with its previous CRM solution stack.The deployment also positions Cenomi Centers to start implementing AI-based solutions into its business by integrating Salesforce Einstein, which will enable the mall operator to deliver AI-created content across its sales, service, marketing, commerce, and IT interactions. This will further drive efficiency, enabling Cenomi to allocate human resources where they are needed most.In addition, Myf Bagnold, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Cenomi Group, has stated that Cenomi will, in the coming months, deploy Salesforce Marketing Cloud across Cenomi Centers, which will allow it to personalise offers across any channel with AI, and Data Cloud. The new platform will empower teams to engage customers across all touchpoints, with nuanced insights from data collected across the network.Thierry Nicault, Area Vice president and General Manager, Salesforce Middle East, said: “Cenomi Group is demonstrating how major retailers can digitally transform to improve their business performance in concert with delivering services that delight customers. This is essential in the current time, helping retailers to offset challenges such as rising costs while satisfying the increasingly high expectations of customers.”

Hub71 announces new leadership updates

Hub71 today has announced new appointments within its leadership team to continue scaling Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem.In a strategic move aimed at positioning Abu Dhabi as one of the leading startup hubs globally, Ahmad Ali Alwan has transitioned from Deputy Chief Executive Officer to Chief Executive Officer of Hub71 as of January 2024.Alwan joined Hub71 as a founding member in 2019 and was appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Hub71 in October 2022. Since then, Alwan has played a critical role in spearheading Hub71’s strategic development to become one of the region’s premier tech startup hubs supporting more than 260 startups that have raised over AED 5 billion in capital. Alwan’s appointment comes amid senior leadership moves internally, including the appointments of Basma Ahmed AlBadi AlDhaheri as Head of Value Creation, Hashem Al Kaabi as Head of Operations and Corporate Services, Mohammed Alkhoori as Head of Marketing and Communications, and Peter Abou Hachem as Head of Growth and Strategy.His Excellency Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of Hub71, said: “Within Abu Dhabi’s soaring ‘Falcon Economy’, Hub71’s transformative impact on the startup landscape is undeniable. Under the ambitious leadership of Hub71, startups globally have a destination where innovation thrives, and growth unlocks endless possibilities. Ahmad has witnessed Hub71 growth stages and played a pivotal role in building the global tech ecosystem in Abu Dhabi. The journey ahead is an exciting, and we are confident that his deep knowledge and experience in helping startups and founders grow and scale disruptive technology companies from the UAE will shape the future of Abu Dhabi’s tech ecosystem.”In 2023, Hub71 helped solidify Abu Dhabi’s ranking as the fastest-growing tech ecosystem in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and among the fastest-growing worldwide, according to Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network.Before becoming Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Alwan was a part of the UAE Clusters Asset Management team at Mubadala’s UAE Investment Platform where he managed a portfolio of UAE-based aerospace and technology assets. Prior to that, Alwan played a critical role in launching Abu Dhabi Catalyst Partners in 2019. In addition, Ahmad was previously part of Mubadala’s Portfolio Strategy team and contributed to formulating the corporate strategy, overlaying internal and stakeholder objectives as well as supporting Mubadala’s leadership with special projects.

Jeep and Publicis Middle East launch 'WE DON’T MAKE JEEP. YOU DO.'

The Jeep and Middle East Publicis’s ad promotion "WE DON’T MAKE JEEP. YOU DO" represents a departure from traditional automotive advertising by embracing the authentic voices and experiences of the Jeep community itself.By utilizing user-generated content (UGC) across various platforms, including social media, posters, and digital displays, this promotion showcases the genuine connection between Jeep owners and their vehicles.The central message, "We Don't Make Jeep, You Do," emphasizes that Jeep is more than just a car; it's an embodiment of the adventurous spirit and individual stories of its drivers. Through the ad, Jeep celebrates the unique personalities of its vehicles, as reflected in the names given to them by their owners.What sets this promotion apart is its focus on authenticity. Rather than relying on polished commercials, Jeep prioritizes real, unscripted moments that resonate with its community. By empowering over 20,000 fans to become micro-influencers, the brand harnesses the genuine enthusiasm of its supporters.Melhem Najm, Chief Marketing Officer at Stellantis MEA, highlights the importance of the Jeep community in embodying the spirit of adventure that defines the brand. He expresses gratitude to the owners who shared their content, enabling the creation of a powerful film that captures the essence of Jeep through their personal stories.Tuki Ghiassi and Anton Marais of Publicis Middle East emphasize the uniqueness of the Jeep community and its passion for the brand. They emphasize that Jeep's appeal goes beyond its products, embodying an ethos that sets it apart from competitors.Overall, this ad campaign successfully communicates Jeep's identity as more than just a manufacturer of vehicles but as a community-driven brand that celebrates the adventures and stories of its owners.

Equativ announces executive changes following strong year-on-year revenue growth

Equativ, the leading global independent ad platform, today announces multiple leadership changes following global revenue growth and expansion in 2023. New Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), Parag Vohra, joins the executive team alongside newly promoted Jean-Christophe (JC) Peube and Teiffyon (Ty) Parry, who move to Chief Operations Officer (COO) and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) respectively. Ending 2023 with 20% annual growth from 2022, Equativ is focused on enabling more media buyers, sellers, and technology partners to maximise programmatic value via its vertically integrated platform. Key business pillars and growth areas include CTV, Curation, and SSP. Holding over two decades of advertising, marketing, and e-commerce technology experience, Equativ’s new global CRO Vohra boasts deep industry insight and experience in boosting the revenue of large companies, including Yahoo, Sojern, and most recently at Iponweb which was acquired by Criteo, where he led the revenue growth of the MediaGrid SSP globally. As CRO, Vohra is tasked with establishing and enhancing strong revenue streams, while ensuring alignment between sales, marketing, and customer success strategies. Reporting to CEO, Arnaud Créput, his main initial priority will be to accelerate overall revenue growth, capitalising on key growth areas of the adtech company, such as its SSP core business (+30% YOY), CTV (+60% YOY) and curation agency solutions (+260% YOY). “Equativ is a leading disruptor in adtech, persistently transforming the ecosystem by developing independent solutions that support efficient, direct, and transparent transactions, helping media buyers and sellers harness high-value opportunities,” comments Vohra. “I look forward to accelerating the company’s strong growth trajectory at a global scale and amplifying its impact to enable truly rewarding programmatic trading.” Working closely with Vohra as part of Equativ’s talented C-suite is Peube (promoted to COO) and Parry (promoted to CSO), both also reporting to Créput. Peube, who Joined Equativ as Senior Vice President of Analytics in 2018, has consistently demonstrated rich technical knowledge and expertise. In his new role as COO, he will oversee Equativ’s centralised TechOps and Customer support teams and maintain seamless connections across Equativ’s demand and supply, analytics, tech support, and quality functions.   Parry, who joined the team as Executive Vice President of Global Demand in 2021, has been instrumental in enhancing the development of Equativ’s media solutions and fortifying demand relationships. His deep insight into the needs of agencies and marketers, coupled with his understanding of the evolving advanced TV landscape, positions him to lead the next phase of platform innovation and expansion in his new role as CSO. “'Equativ is a great place to be right now,” comments Parry. “We’re seeing very significant growth in our Advanced TV and Curated Marketplace business lines, and I'm extremely excited about our upcoming plans for retail media." In addition to executive team changes Equativ’s Strategic Advisory Board also welcomes Mykim Chikli — current EMEA CEO at Weborama — and Christophe Parcot, former COO at Teads, MD & VP at Yahoo EMEA and senior adviser to McKinsey. Alongside long-term Equativ advisers, Greg Coleman and Mainardo de Nardis, and recent addition, Catherine Sullivan, the diverse collective will support Equativ in augmenting its go-to-market strategy across key growth areas. Arnaud Créput, CEO at Equativ, adds: “Sustaining a market-leading position takes consistent innovation and commitment to constant improvement. Our fast growth underlines how we’re meeting the industry-wide need for comprehensive end-to-end solutions, with our SSP alone powering a 30% increase in organic revenue growth. Now, with the appointment of skilled new additions and the promotions of existing exceptional talent, we’re ready to further optimise our services and tap into additional avenues of growth. I’m excited to explore an array of new possibilities with our refreshed leadership team.”

Trend Micro launches NextgGen email security to safeguard the digital realm

Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in cybersecurity, today announced the launch of Trend Micro Email Security, an innovative cybersecurity solution that leverages a blend of cross-generational threat techniques, including machine learning, sandbox analysis, data loss prevention (DLP), and various other methods to stop all email-based threats. This solution will be hosted in the UAE for the entire Middle East and Africa region.In today's digital landscape, email remains a mission-critical communication channel for businesses, but it is equally susceptible to an ever-increasing array of threats, including ransomware and business email compromise (BEC). According to Trend Micro’s Mid-Year Cybersecurity Report, in the MEA region during the first half of the year, the company’s solutions detected and blocked over 475 million threats, of which 281 million were email threats. These alarming figures underscore the need for the adoption of a robust email security solution to navigate through the evolving threat landscape."In the day and age where digital communication serves as the lifeblood of organizations, email has risen to prominence as the central conduit of information flow. However, it has also become the primary target for a myriad of relentless cyber threats,” said Dr Moataz Bin Ali, Regional Vice President and Managing Director, MMEA, Trend Micro. “Amid this volatile threat landscape, Trend Micro stands as a vigilant guardian of digital security. This product launch is a testament to Trend Micro's unwavering commitment to online safety, ensuring that organizations can thrive in the digital era with confidence and peace of mind."Trend Micro Email Security streamlines threat management and seamlessly integrates with other Trend Micro security layers, offering central visibility of threats across your organization. Importantly, it protects a wide range of email platforms, including Microsoft Exchange™, Microsoft Office 365, Gmail™, and other hosted and on-premises email solutions. It also provides advanced protection against BEC scams by using enhanced machine learning, email header, and content analysis, with an additional layer of authorship scrutiny through Trend Micro™ Writing Style DNA.Additionally, it prevents malicious URLs, utilizes source verification and authentication protocols, leverages extensive threat intelligence for identifying attacker infrastructures in advance, provides policy-driven email encryption, offers DLP templates for tracking sensitive information, and ensures email continuity during server outages. Moreover, the system is complemented by flexible reporting and integrates with Trend Micro Apex Central™ for synchronized threat defense.

UK scrutiny deepens on Abu Dhabi-backed RedBird IMI's Telegraph bid

The proposed acquisition of the Telegraph Media Group (TMG) by Abu Dhabi-backed investment group RedBird IMI faces further scrutiny by UK regulators due to a newly proposed corporate structure. Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has raised concerns about the new holding company structure intended to hold the newspaper group, prompting her to ask Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to assess whether it constitutes a materially different deal requiring a new investigation.RedBird IMI, led by former CNN chief Jeff Zucker, had already been facing scrutiny from Ofcom regarding potential public interest concerns related to press freedom and accurate news presentation under Abu Dhabi's involvement. The regulator's report was expected this week, but the new government intervention could postpone the process by several weeks.The revised corporate structure aims to clarify International Media Investments (IMI), an Abu Dhabi entity controlled by Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour, as a passive investor with no management or editorial influence over the Telegraph. However, the late introduction of this information and its implementation raise concerns for Frazer, prompting her to question the transparency of the process.RedBird IMI acquired the Telegraph in a swift agreement with the group's previous owners, the Barclay family, by settling their debts, bypassing a potential auction process. This move, along with IMI's involvement, has faced considerable opposition from Conservative MPs, rival media groups, and even some Telegraph and Spectator staff concerned about editorial independence and press freedom under Abu Dhabi's partial ownership.RedBird IMI has emphasized its commitment to editorial autonomy by proposing an independent editorial charter and legal measures to safeguard IMI's passive investor status. Nonetheless, the government remains concerned about potential IMI influence on the Telegraph's news presentation and free expression of opinion. Their letter to RedBird IMI highlights unresolved points where IMI consent is still required under the partnership agreement.Analysts predict that Frazer may refer the deal to the CMA for a deeper investigation due to press freedom concerns surrounding the takeover by the Abu Dhabi-backed group.

Alexa turned lights on and off over 24 mn times Saudi, UAE

Two years since its launch, Amazon Alexa has offered homes around the Middle East seamless, hyper-localised experiences in Khaleeji Arabic, catering to the unique lifestyles, preferences and needs.Middle East customers rank among the most engaged users worldwide, for the second year in a row, with 14 interactions a day per customer. In 2023, Alexa’s monthly active customers in the region increased by an impressive 40%. This surge in engagement is also reflected in the number of Alexa interactions, which grew by 30% YoY in comparison to 2022.Smart Homes take centre stageSmart Home automation emerged as the most used segment for Alexa usage in the Middle East, with customers increasingly relying on Alexa to control their connected devices. In 2023 alone, Alexa has turned lights on and off over 24 million times in homes across Saudi Arabia and the UAE.Air conditioners rank as the second-most frequently used smart appliances, with over 8.9 million actions recorded year-to-date in these two countries. On average, Middle East customers have 11 smart appliances connected to Alexa, demonstrating the growing adoption of voice-enabled home automation.Entertainment and spirituality, delivered dailyBeyond Smart Home control, Middle East customers turn to Alexa for a variety of entertainment and spiritual needs. Audio streaming – including music, Quran recitations, radio, and podcasts – ranks as the second-most popular domain. Surat Al Baqara was the most requested Surah in 2023, with Maher Al-Muaiqly being the most sought-after Qari.In the realm of entertainment, Khaleeji hearts beat for Arabic artists. Mohammed Abdo reigns as the most popular artist, followed by Fairuz, Khalid Abdulrahman, Amr Diab and Abdulmajid Abdullah.Relaxing music, (calm music) emerged as the most requested genre. Additionally, Akinator, also known as "?????? ??????"  (The Blue Genie) captivated users as the most popular game requested on Alexa.New features and productsIn November 2023, Amazon introduced its Echo Show 8 (3rd Generation) in the UAE and KSA. Designed for even more personalized, proactive, and intuitive Alexa experiences at home, it features a new industrial design, intuitive home screen experience, upgraded processor, spatial audio, and a built-in smart home hub. The improved processor and enhanced audio with more powerful cameras will make for better and clearer video interactions. The Adaptive Content feature adjusts on-screen content based on proximity to the device, making it even easier to seamlessly integrate the new Echo Show 8 into customers’ daily lifestyles.Additionally, Amazon launched the all-new Echo Pop in July 2023 in the UAE and KSA. Echo Pop is a new addition to the Echo family with a loveable semi-sphere form factor and comes with the new Lavender Bloom and Midnight Teal color options, and the standard Glacier White and Charcoal color options. It features a custom-designed front-facing directional speaker to deliver full sound that’s great for bedrooms, dorm rooms, apartments, or any small space in a home.Alexa has also introduced a suite of new features designed to enhance user experience and cater to diverse preferences. Dynamic Language Switching (DLS) enables Alexa to respond to Arabic or English commands without the need to change device settings. The Smart Home Dashboard provides a centralized control panel for managing smart home appliances directly from Echo Show displays. Customers who prefer text-based interaction can chat with Alexa via the mobile app, Type with Alexa. Enhancing spiritual engagement, the Quran On-Screen CX enables users to follow along with Quran recitations on Echo Show displays. Additionally, Smart Home Timed Actions empower users to schedule device activation or deactivation at specific times or after a set duration, with the added flexibility to view and cancel these actions as needed.Localization wins over Middle East customersAlexa’s increasing engagement in the Middle East is attributed to its deep localization efforts, ensuring that the voice service seamlessly integrates into the lives of regional users. Alexa supports Khaleeji Arabic, a dialect spoken in the Arabian Peninsula, and provides access to a vast array of localized content, including news, music, and skills.Dr. Raf Bin Ameen Fatani, Regional General Manager, Alexa, MENA: “We are humbled with the feedback received from our customers in the Middle East region, and remain committed to delivering innovative, localized experiences that positively impact customers’ lives across the region. We are deeply grateful for the enthusiastic embrace of Alexa by our customers and look forward to continuing to innovate and deliver even more delightful experiences.”

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.