Navigating the PR future: Insights from Dipankar Zalpuri, President Kaizzen MENA

As the year 2023 is in its last week, we at Adgully Middle East have come up with an initiative to connect with many Public Relation companies to know their thoughts on the development of social media, social influencers etc in the year 2024. So in an exclusive Interview with Dipankar Zalpuri, President MENA Region, Kaizzen Middle East, Adgully brings to you what is in store for the PR industry in the region.  With the growing importance of digital channels and social media, how is your PR agency planning to leverage new communication technologies and platforms by 2024?  Public Relations professionals need to remain skilled strategists and innovators rather than mere technicians in this suddenly so 'tech-driven' world. I am going to put my neck on the line and spark a debate on the sometimes-unbridled inclination towards any new technology or platform that comes to the fore, especially in this rapidly changing tech-scape.  Organizations use public relations strategies to increase brand awareness, build trust, and improve their reputation. Yes, using social media is important to remain relevant to the current audiences who use these platforms. But, for me, a well thought of, researched, and consistent messaging still remains most vital for the success of any business.  Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of an assortment of 'new media’, I rely on recently developed tools that our teams have been using. Artificial intelligence is being used to predict the success of a campaign, analyze social media sentiment, and monitor the progress of a campaign, as our teams roll strategies out. With such an approach, one saves valuable time and resources, as the right AI tools provide real-time data and improve the efficiency of social media monitoring. We have also been using AI software to our advantage to further sharpen our approach to marketing and creating pitches. Using AI helps us improve text, branding and graphic design. We plan to use other developing technologies that include virtual and augmented reality for immersive experiences, blockchain for security, and big data and analytics for audience insights. I believe that PR professionals have a broader role to play in technology use and policy development than is being projected. What strategies are in place to enhance client visibility and reputation management in the evolving digital landscape of 2024?I would say this is where technology has been of major assistance. We have been using certain techs that simplify our PR workflows and as a result, have helped improve our media relations out-reach capabilities. This in turn has been instrumental in boosting client visibility through media coverage on a global scale, saving time, track performance better than ever before, and measuring ROI from PR. We will keep utilizing social media outlets such as LinkedIn and Instagram to tap global communities, events, conventions, and closed round tables of relevance. Our clear intent is to connect our clients to other global thought leaders, learn about the latest trends in their sector, present lucrative investment opportunities, and collaborate on new initiatives, to allow their top management to network with apt individuals and communities. While this may sound a little old-fashioned, it has worked very well for our clients in the past to not only be visible but grow their business at an accelerated pace in various geographies. Small things like utilizing GA4 for tracking owned-media traction, relying on applications that allow us to monitor online reputation, sharing intellectual insights on podcasts, and blogs, etc. will form the pulse of our global strategy. We will always keep relying on harnessing automation tools with AI machine learning features that help us improve our strategic as well as tactical digital media marketing initiatives. With the rise of influencer marketing, how will Kaizzen incorporate influencer partnerships into your communication strategies by 2024? With a dedicated, centralized team in place, we offer our clients a unique and dynamic approach to influencer marketing. Apart from maintaining and managing relationships with influencers, we don’t shy away from collaborating with international platforms that bring in expertise in varied regions and categories. Our team works meticulously to weed out relevant partnerships, learning from extensive research and toiling with data coming out of the industry.As I mentioned before, we go back to the basics and lean towards the 7Cs of PR to establish clear execution and messaging goals along with rigorous industry ROI measurement standard for the influencer partnerships as well.  What metrics do you prioritize to measure the impact of influencer collaborations on brand perception and audience engagement in 2024? In 2023, 76.9% of marketers declared influencer marketing as a top priority for their PR agencies, with a 46.2% increase in budgets for PR marketing. Taking this into account, influencer marketing will continue to be the biggest channel of marketing in 2024 with Dubai’s increasing love for luxury marketing. (Source: Economic Times). If you open Instagram, several PR or product promotion posts have online influencers. With 99% penetration rate, Dubai is the world’s undisputed capital of social media and any business looking to succeed should encapsulate influencers in their strategy. We rely mostly on Engagement Rates and Reach rather than Impressions while measuring any influencer’s posts. If the influencer is promoting a product, then the CTR relating to the product sale is something to keep an eye on too, if the client is comfortable sharing the same with us. As we go into 2024, we will keep strictly monitoring the comments and do Sentiment Analysis to determine how the audience engagement fares to enhance brand perception. In the end, I reiterate that Traditional PR might be seen as 'eroding' in the face of social media and new technology but as a global company we strive to remind every PR & Marketing professional to be effective and informed torch bearers of the Communication Mandate of their company. And not just be ‘Blog Masters’ and/or ‘Tweeters in Chief’ that are being churned out every minute to the hour.

UAE fintech Qashio announces partnership with Emirates Skywards

Qashio, a UAE-founded fintech company, has recently announced a new partnership with Emirates Skywards, the award-winning loyalty programme of Emirates and flydubai. This exciting collaboration will enable customers to convert Qashio Points into Skywards Miles, opening doors to a wide range of benefits Emirates Skywards is renowned for.Qashio Points, Qashio’s loyalty program, rewards customers who make business purchases and transactions through Qashio business expense cards. Qashio's innovative platform allows customers to consolidate their earned points from all business expense card spending and effortlessly convert them into Skywards Miles for individual employees with Emirates Skywards accounts.As we anticipate a return to pre-pandemic levels for business travel by 2024, Qashio is determined to provide Qashio's customers with the best possible travel experiences. This strategic partnership represents a significant milestone for Qashio, as it will offer customers exclusive travel benefits including flight rewards and upgrades with Emirates – the world’s largest international airline. Armin Moradi, CEO and Co-founder of Qashio said: “Collaborating with Emirates Skywards is an immense privilege for Qashio. As a UAE-based enterprise, we have always aspired to partner with Emirates Skywards, and this partnership will empower Qashio to provide our customers with even more valuable and pertinent rewards, tailored specifically for business leaders.”Founded in Dubai in 2021, Qashio has established itself as a leading Business Expense Card and Expense Management solution in the UAE. Their comprehensive platform combines seamless issuance of virtual and physical Business Expense cards with robust software capabilities. By streamlining expense management, automating reconciliation processes, and offering additional benefits such as business financing and affordable employee medical insurance, Qashio enables businesses to optimise their financial operations.For more information about Qashio and the seamless transfer of Qashio Points to Skywards Miles, please visit

Omnix International unveils advanced generative conversational AI solution

Omnix International, an end-to-end digital solutions and services pioneer, introduces an innovative Generative Conversational AI solution, a cutting-edge AI-driven technology that integrates both Conversational AI and Generative AI. The solution utilizes AI, machine learning (ML), and Natural Language Processing (NLP), enabling it to increase operational efficiency and lays the groundwork for a future where intelligent systems autonomously can evolve and innovate.Conversational AI is developed on a no-code authoring platform that enables bi-directional communication between humans and applications through a native connector. It comes with robust training tools and learning mechanisms, which continuously improve the performance and knowledge of virtual assistants. Additionally, it is equipped with advanced capabilities that enable it to differentiate intent, extract context, and acknowledge sentiment, providing an elevated conversational experience.Conversational AI further excels in knowledge, vision, search, and voice processing. These features enable intelligent recommendations, semantic searches, image recognition with remarkable accuracy rates, and voice-based verifications. Additionally, it seamlessly integrates with Robotic Process Automation platforms (RPA) and APIs, offering organic connectivity with core business applications.Integrating generative AI with conversational AI enhances the latter's ability to produce more natural and diverse responses.Generative AI includes systems that create new content based on patterns learned from structured and unstructured data. These models generate responses that mimic human language, understanding context and crafting coherent, relevant text. By leveraging generative models within conversational AI frameworks, systems can better comprehend nuances in language, maintain context throughout a conversation, and generate more engaging, human-like responses. This integration empowers conversational AI to simulate natural conversation more effectively, catering to diverse user needs across various applications."Our Generative Conversational AI solution is a powerful combination of cutting-edge technologies that aims to revolutionize enterprise interactions. It is an NLP engine that supports over 45 languages, making it a game-changer in the realm of intelligent virtual assistants. This solution is a testament to our mission to enhance productivity and satisfaction for enterprises in this transformative phase." says Walid Gomaa, CEO of Omnix International.Businesses can significantly improve their user interactions, efficiency, and accuracy while saving time and cost by leveraging conversational automation integrated with Generative AI. This integration allows for the automatic generation of answers for a wide range of generic use cases, streamlining the handling of FAQs and eliminating the need for manual extraction or training.In HR, conversational automation can streamline onboarding, training, and surveys, while in IT, it can significantly enhance help desk support operations. Additionally, it can enhance sales functions by improving CRM, lead generation, and product insights. It can also transform management and finance operations by simplifying expense handling, invoice processing and providing detailed reporting.In the ever-changing world of enterprise efficiency, Omnix International remains committed to empowering businesses on their digital transformation journey. This dedication is reflected in the delivery of practical solutions that redefine operational standards. By prioritizing productivity and user satisfaction, Omnix International aims to facilitate streamlined operations and achieve success across industries.

Memac Ogilvy & Mather Lebanon to elevate Harley-Davidson's UAE maket

Abdulla Al Masaood & Sons Motorcycles L.L.C has announced the appointment of its new partner, Memac Ogilvy & Mather Lebanon, to provide digital communications solutions for the prestigious Harley -Davidson brand in the UAE market. The collaboration marks an important moment in bolstering the growth of the region’s automotive sector through creative digital strategies.As the world’s leading creative network and an agency with extensive automotive expertise, Memac Ogilvy will support with strengthening and elevating Harley-Davidson®’s UAE market influence through digitally led and social-driven innovative communication campaigns. The agency’s remit also encompasses sophisticated customer-first digital solutions — including the creation of video animation assets, as well as tailored coverage and strategies for digital search and display.Ghassan Maraqa, MENA CEO at Memac Ogilvy & Mather, commented: “Digital communications serves as a bedrock to a successful creative strategy, especially in the automotive industry. Memac Ogilvy & Mather, with its abundance of expertise in the sector, is thrilled to partner with Harley-Davidson® of UAE in delivering digital communications that will underline innovation, spark key dialogue, and strengthen brand identity. Harley-Davidson® of UAE’s ambitious vision aligns with our appetite for fresh ideas, that when converted into award winning digital campaigns, will undoubtedly strengthen the brand’s presence in the market.”Shaun Smith, Group General Manager, Abdulla Al Masaood & Sons Automotive, commented, expressed his confidence in the partnership: I am delighted to announce our exciting new partnership for our group company, Abdulla Al Masaood & Sons Motorcycles L.L.C, Authorized distributor for Harley-Davidson in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with Ogilvy, one of the most renowned and innovative marketing agencies in the industry.”Smith added: “This collaboration marks a significant milestone for us. Ogilvy's unmatched expertise in creative and strategic marketing, coupled with our passion for Harley-Davidson®, will undoubtedly result in exciting campaigns and initiatives that will resonate with both our loyal customers and those who are new to the Harley-Davidson® world. Together, we will elevate our marketing efforts and accelerate our reach, ensuring that the thrill of Harley-Davidson® is accessible to all.”

Dubai Insurance Company gets 'A' rating for financial strength from Fitch Rating

For the first time in over five decades of operations, Dubai Insurance Company P.S.C. (DIN) has received an IFS “A” Rating with a Stable Outlook from London’s globally-renowned ratings agency Fitch Ratings (Fitch), a leader in financial information services and award-winning provider of credit ratings, commentary and research.“This is indeed wonderful news, not only for our company but also for the entire insurance industry in the UAE”, said Mr. Abdellatif Abuqurah, DIN’s CEO. He added: “Earning an “A” Rating by one of the most renowned and trusted rating companies in the world illustrates the solid standing of our company and the trust we have managed to earn through decades of hard work, innovation, and commitment to the progress of our nation.”According To Fitch, Din Enjoys A Strong Company Profile. With A Gross Written Premium (gwp) Aed1.5 Billion In 2022, The Company Is Considered The Fourth Largest Publicly Listed Insurer In The Uae By Gwp, Offering A Diversified Mix Of Personal And Commercial Insurance Solutions With Key Government Contracts, Including The Workers Protection Program Products And The Newly Launched Involuntary Loss Of Employment (iloe) Scheme.Abuqurah continued: “This is the first time in the history of DIN that we receive an “A” rating, which reinforces and validates our sound business strategy in line with Dubai Vision 2030, as well as honors our legacy of excellence, and solidifies our positioning as industry pioneers.”In terms of DIN’s capitalization, Fitch viewed it as “Extremely Strong”, with an equally strong regulatory capital ratio of 180% at end-2022. The company’s investment risk makes up the largest individual portion of the capital requirements, noting that DIN has no financial leverage in its capital structure. Furthermore, Fitch reported that DIN boasts a “Very Strong Profitability”, with an underwriting profit of AED78 million in 2022 and a combined ratio of 81%.DIN’s investment portfolio has also played a role in the company’s positive rating. The later had a consistently strong return on equity (RoE) with a five-year average of 12.3%, especially with the current and foreseen success of the WPP and ILOE schemes.Moreover, Fitch reports that “DIN has a fairly large exposure to equity investments at 47% of its investment portfolio at end-2022. Cash and bank deposits make up a further 41% of the investment portfolio, making the overall portfolio highly liquid, although DIN also has a 9% exposure to real estate investments. The company's Fitch-calculated risky assets/capital ratio was 72% at end-202) with risky assets being made up almost entirely of equities.”Last but not least, DIN adopts a prudent reserving philosophy with reserves held in excess of actuarial valuation, which has contributed as well to the company’s positive assessment. It was also found by Fitch that DIN enjoys a “Strong Reinsurance Panel” led by large globally diversified reinsurers .

Mall Millionaire Campaign unveils a festive array of unique events

 Line Investments & Property LLC Lulu Group International is elevating the exhilaration of the Mall Millionaire campaign by revealing a line-up of unique events to add more flavour to the festivities and invites shoppers to experience the joy and excitement of the holiday season in a unique and interactive way.As the most exciting shopping event of the year with AED One Million grand prize PRESENTED BY LINE INVESTMENTS and T5 EVO cars POWERED BY FORTHING along with many other exciting prizes, the campaign invites shoppers to join the Al Wahda Mall's Treasure Hunt (Dec 20-Dec 27) that promises adventure, while Mushrif Mall's Food Fiesta (Dec 29-31) will tantalize taste buds with chefs and entertainers. Khalidiyah Mall spices up Christmas with Carnival Games and a Kids Fashion Show (Dec 24-25). Spin & Win at Madina Zayed is perfect for surprises. Shoppers can also immerse in the Winter Candy Land at Al Raha Mall and the Forest Theme at Al Foah Mall.‘Mall Millionaire’ is taking place from December 8th, 2023, to January 6th, 2024, across thirteen participating malls in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra. Shoppers can indulge in amazing retail therapy which includes incredible deals and discounts from big brands, rewards, entertainment shows, and exciting activations throughout the malls. It's a shopping extravaganza where everyone has a chance to become a winner.Wajeb Al Khoury, Director of Line Investments and Property LLC said, "We are thrilled to offer a wonderland of events, with each mall creating its own magical experience. It's more than shopping; it's a festive adventure for all with the added opportunity to win fantastic daily prizes for 30 days at 13 participating malls as well as five cars and a million dirhams during the campaign. The ‘Selfie Stations’ for families also gives shoppers a chance to participate in the Mall Millionaire Raffle Draw.”Biju George, General Manager, Line Investments said, "Within our malls, we have crafted diverse activities, promotions, and games for our young visitors. We extend an open invitation to everyone, urging you to immerse yourself in the exceptional experiences awaiting you at particopating malls for the campaign with daily and weekly celebrations of winners ..”Participating malls include Al Wahda Mall, Mushrif Mall, Khalidiyah Mall, Al Raha Mall, Mazyad Mall, Forsan Central Mall, Al Falah Central Mall, Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre and Gold Centre, Hameem Mall, and Mafraq Mall in Abu Dhabi as well as Al Foah Mall and Barari Outlet Mall in Al Ain and Al Dhafra Mall in Al Dhafra.

TDRA signs MoU with Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation

The Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Dubai Maritime Authority of Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCFC). This partnership marks a significant stride by improving the regulatory framework for maritime business operations, aiming to enhance efficiency in the sector.The MoU establishes a streamlined and cohesive procedure for acquiring the necessary authorizations for maritime vessels through the Dubai Maritime Authority. TDRA is focused on simplifying the process of granting wireless device authorizations for recreational marine vessels exceeding 10.6 meters in length, in addition to all classes of commercial marine vessels operating within the territorial waters of the UAE.H.E. Eng. Majed Sultan Al Mesmar, TDRA Director General, commented: “Our collaboration with Dubai PCFC aligns seamlessly with our shared objectives, in harmony with the "We the UAE 2031" vision and the directives of our wise leadership. These goals emphasize the imperative of synergizing efforts to establish a cohesive digital ecosystem that fosters a knowledge-based society and economy at the national level. We highly value the dedication of PCFC officials in leveraging TDRA's role as enabler of digital transformation. We affirm our unwavering readiness to collaborate with both federal and local entities in all projects and initiatives aimed at shaping the envisioned digital future.”Sheikh Dr. Saeed bin Ahmed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, Executive Director of Dubai Maritime City Authority, affirmed that the MoU signed with TDRA to work closely with all government entities to streamline service application processes for an enhanced customer experience within the Dubai Government. He indicated that the registration and licensing of marine vessels are subject to assessments to verify their compliance with approved technical specifications and adherence to maritime standards, requirements, and regulations. These measures are crucial for ensuring the safety of the vessels' users.This collaboration coincides with a period of substantial growth in the UAE's maritime sector, characterized by an increased demand for licenses and wireless device authorizations. This heightened demand necessitates more efficient regulatory procedures than ever before. With the implementation of this partnership, stakeholders within the maritime industry can anticipate a streamlined, effective, and hassle-free licensing process.

KPMG’s global revenue touches $36bln

Amid economic and geopolitical slowdowns, KPMG MESAC announced a 22.4-percent growth in the aggregate revenue of KPMG member firms (in local currency terms) in the region for the fiscal year ending 30 September 2023 (FY23). The announcement came in after KPMG International declared the annual globally aggregated revenues for KPMG firms of US$36b for FY23, marking an increase of 8 percent from FY22 (5 percent in US$).The financial figures highlight robust year-on-year growth, reinforced by a multi-disciplinary approach that binds together world-leading expertise and integrated capabilities.Commenting on the results, Dr. Rasheed Al-Qenae, Chairman of the KPMG MESAC region and Managing Partner, KPMG in Kuwait, said, “The financial results for FY23 are an outcome of our continued investments in strengthening the quality and trust agenda as well as in expanding our capabilities. We are committed to making the most of our multi-disciplinary model, ensuring sustainable growth in every domain we operate in. Despite increasing complexities in the economic and geopolitical landscapes, we are seeing new, more tangible opportunities emerge in the region. We are, both, well-equipped and well-positioned to cater to the needs of our clients, people, and the wider society, while maintaining a keen focus on driving progress in terms of our ESG initiatives.”KPMG member firms in the MESAC region also saw double-digit growth across all 3 core functions of Audit, Tax and Advisory, with the most notable upshot in Advisory revenue which climbed by more than 30% over the previous year. Globally, Audit revenues grew 9 percent on FY22, Advisory grew 7 percent, and Tax & Legal services grew 10 percent.The primary focus for KPMG in the MESAC region in FY23 remained strengthening capabilities with senior hires, particularly in areas such as digital and artificial intelligence (AI), project finance, deal advisory, managed services, forensic, dispute advisory and transfer pricing, as well as in sectors such as cities, defense, energy, and natural resources, among others. As a result, more than 4,200 people were hired across the KPMG MESAC region including 78 partners and directors, pushing the region’s combined talent pool upwards of 11,400 as of 30 September 2023.Additionally, bolstering resource mobilization and delivery capabilities through strategic alliances, particularly in the technology space, delivery networks and regional corridors, were among the key areas of focus for KPMG in the MESAC region.In line with this, the KPMG member firm in Kuwait appointed new Heads of Management Consulting, Audit, and ESG to propel its capabilities in the Advisory space further. Moreover, partners and employees of the firm are leveraging the KPMG Kuwait Impact Plan to ensure that businesses think beyond financial profits and move towards operational responsibilities for the collective good of the society.Looking at the next phase, Bill Thomas, Global Chairman & CEO, KPMG International, said, “As the world faces economic and geopolitical uncertainty and increasing complexity, KPMG has remained focused on harnessing the full breadth of our multi-disciplinary model, which has enabled us to deliver sustainable growth across all areas of the business.Guided by shared values, purpose and a strong KPMG culture, we remain driven to make a positive difference for clients, our people and society more widely. Through the next phase of our global Collective Strategy, KPMG firms are investing significantly in areas important to clients, including technology and ESG services, and in attracting and retaining the best talent in the market.”In the next phase of its global Collective Strategy, KPMG has outlined a collective investment of US$4.2b, placing a wider focus on high-impact opportunities, especially in technology, talent and ESG. It is anticipated that the extension in the term of present Global Chairman and CEO, Bill Thomas, to 30 September 2026, will ensure continuity of leadership and direction for KPMG for the next 3 years.

Perfetti Van Melle’s Mentos Gum to be sponsor of Al-Awwal Park Stadium

The announcement of Perfetti Van Melle’s Mentos Gum as the sponsor of Al-Awwal Park Stadium in Riyadh through two Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) signifies a significant partnership in the sports and entertainment landscape of Saudi Arabia.As part of these agreements, Mentos Gum secures branding and product placement rights across Al-Awwal Park Stadium for a year. The stadium, home to Al Nassr FC, a prominent football club in Saudi Arabia, attracts around 25,000 attendees per game and over half a million attendees per season.The partnership extends beyond the stadium, as Mentos Gum will also feature in squeeze-in and squeeze-out graphics during televised matches and key football programs on MBC channels.The first MoU was inked between Mentos Gum and the Saudi Media Company (SMC), with Milad Rouhana, Managing Director for the Middle East, Africa, and Pakistan at Perfetti Van Melle, and Khalid Alkhudair, CEO of SMC, as the signatories.The second MoU involved Rouhana, Marc Ghosn (Regional Managing Director at Wavemaker MENA), and Ahmed Al Sahhaf (CEO of MBC Media Solutions), solidifying the collaboration between Perfetti Van Melle, Wavemaker MENA, and MBC Group.Milad Rouhana emphasized the significance of the sponsorship, aligning with the commitment to innovation and excellence, while also contributing to the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030 program. He expressed enthusiasm about creating refreshing and memorable experiences for fans.Ahmed Al Sahhaf, CEO of MBC Media Solutions, highlighted the excitement of being a key player in the partnership, emphasizing their dedication to providing brands with unparalleled opportunities to become integral parts of cherished moments in viewers' lives.Marc Ghosn from Wavemaker MENA expressed pride in facilitating Mentos exposure in the dynamic sports landscape of Saudi Arabia, enhancing the brand's visibility and engagement within the passionate community.Khalid Alkhudair from SMC expressed excitement about collaborating with a global partner like Mentos, anticipating great engagement and experiences for the stadium.This partnership not only reflects a collaboration between brands and sports but also aligns with broader cultural and entertainment experiences, showcasing the evolving landscape in Saudi Arabia.

Chery launches the 2024 TIGGO8 Pro Max, redefining the future of driving

 The all-new 2024 TIGGO 8 PRO MAX was revealed recently, the mid-size SUV is built with Chery’s T1X platform which connected to internationally renowned supplier Bosch and Benteler. It is powered by a 2.0TGDI engine, which was awarded the title of "China Best Ten Engine". It can achieve outstanding performances with a maximum power of 254HP, a peak torque of 390N m, and ultra-low fuel consumption of 7.39L per 100km. Furthermore, with the 7DCT high-efficiency transmission, it can achieve the ultimate acceleration performance of only 7s in term of 0-100km acceleration.The all-new model is set to be available in the United Arab Emirates in early 2024 as part of Chery's unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional vehicles to the market. In an official statement, Chery commented, "The affinity for Chery vehicles among Middle East region consumers is growing, with recognition for the brand's futuristic design and technological advancements. The outlook for the Middle East market is highly promising."In August, Chery secured the first-place position in the 2023 China Initial Quality Study (IQS) conducted by J.D. Power, a renowned institution for certifying cars. Chery proudly claimed the top spot among Chinese brands. In the recently released '2023 Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout Study SM (APEAL),' also by J.D. Power, Chery's Tiggo 7 series and Tiggo 8 series products dominated their respective market segments, winning the titles for mid-sized economical SUV and mid-sized SUV.Notably, TIGGO 8 PRO MAX is equipped with the new generation of intelligent 4WD system of electronic control - Chery's All Scene 4WD System of Intelligent Control, which provides 6 driving modes, including economical, ordinary, sports, mud, dessert, and snow, covering various travel scenarios, offering users the superb ability on getting out of tough road conditions with fast switching of 4WD.As a flagship SUV product, TIGGO 8 PRO MAX brings ultimate safety assurance. In addition to adopting the high-strength steel accounting for more than 80%, and the use of Benteler ultra-high thermo-forming steel with yield strength ? 1500Mpa for improving the strength of the vehicle body comprehensively, TIGGO 8 PRO MAX is also equipped with Bosch ESP 9.3 body electronic stability system and pre-tensioned safety belt as standard configurations. Moreover, it is also equipped with ADAS system integrating 16 kinds of intelligent driving assistance functions, including adaptive cruise control (ACC), autonomous emergency braking (AEB), and lane keeping assistance (LKA), which not only facilitates the control of the vehicle, but also greatly improves the active and passive safety performance, thus bringing peace of mind to the driver.

Ring in 2024 with CNN international

Tokyo to Times Square, CNN International will showcase New Year’s Eve celebrations all over the world with more than 12 hours of special live coverage starting at 7:45am ET on Sunday, December 31. Featuring interviews and live appearances by world-renowned musicians, athletes, chefs and award-winning actors and directors, “New Year’s Eve Live” will be an exciting destination for viewers around the globe as they count down to midnight. Kicking off with the spectacular fireworks display in Sydney Harbor, “New Year’s Eve Live” will feature CNN reporters covering festivities in more than a dozen locations across the globe including Angus Watson in Sydney; Hanako Montgomery in Tokyo; Marc Stewart in Seoul; Will Ripley in Bangkok; Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong; Becky Anderson from Abu Dhabi; Elliott Gotkine from Tel Aviv; Larry Madowo from Abuja; Scott McLean from Tbilisi; Elinda Labropoulou from Athens; Melissa Bell from Paris; CNN Portugal’s Maria João Rosa from Madeira; Anna Stewart and Max Foster from London; Julia Jones from Rio de Janeiro; and Richard Quest and Brynn Gingras from New York. CNN’s special coverage will broadcast live from Abu Dhabi, Atlanta, Hong Kong, London and New York with Paula Newton anchoring from 7:45-9am ET in Atlanta; Kristie Lu Stout from 9am-12pm ET live from Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor, where she will be joined on set by Michelin-starred Australian chef Shane Osborn for a look at food and health trends as well as sustainability in the new year; John Vause will anchor from 12-2pm ET in Atlanta; Becky Anderson will anchor from 2-4pm ET live from Abu Dhabi; and at 4pm ET Lynda Kinkade will pick up from Atlanta and be joined by Max Foster in London and later by Richard Quest from Times Square in New York, before handing over to Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen for CNN’s “New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen” at 8pm ET. In addition, “New Year’s Eve Live” will feature special performances and interviews and with some of the world’s biggest names across music, sport and the arts, including Emmy Award-winning actress Amanda Seyfried; famed Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli and his daughter, Virginia; stars of the Broadway musical Gutenberg! The Musical! Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad; veteran Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor; stars of HBO’s Gilded Age Cynthia Nixon and Christine Baranski; J-pop star Hikaru Utada; Taiwanese megastar Jay Chou; Hollywood superstar Keanu Reeves; Malaysian stand-up comedian Nigel Ng; Paris in Love star Paris Hilton; South Korean director Park Chan-wook; acclaimed actor Sam Neill; Academy Award-winning director and journalist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy; NFL kicker Younghoe Koo; Formula One race car driver Zhou Guanyu; musical performances by the Royal Opera House Chorus and Songs for Ukraine Chorus and more. CNN International’s “New Year’s Eve Live” will stream live on CNN Max and for pay TV subscribers via, CNN connected TV and mobile apps. CNN Max will air CNN International’s New Year’s Eve celebrations from 8am-8pm ET ahead of “New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen” from New York’s Times Square beginning at 8pm ET.

Dubai Tourism Teams with JioTV for 'Once Upon A Trip! To Dubai' with Anil Kapoor

Dubai’s Department of Economy & Tourism (DET) has announced an exciting partnership with JioTV to launch a unique 4-episode travel show titled "Once Upon A Trip! To Dubai.” In this unique show, global superstar Anil Kapoor plays himself as he embarks on a hilarious and adventurous journey through the stunning city of Dubai along with actor Maniesh Paul.More than just a travel show; "Once Upon A Trip! To Dubai" is a story of rediscovery, bonding, and the magic of serendipity. As Kapoor and Paul traverse through the alluring landscapes and vibrant cultural tapestry of Dubai, their (on-screen) personas reflect their real-life charm and wit, delivering an authentic and engaging experience to Indian viewers. The show is set to offer a rich blend of comedy, adventure, and heartfelt moments, presenting Dubai in a unique light that’s never been seen before. It not only serves as a testament to Dubai's enchanting allure as a global travel destination but also celebrates its rich cultural mosaic and dynamic spirit in a way that resonates with Indian audiences.At the heart of "Once Upon A Trip! To Dubai'' is its unwavering commitment to authenticity. The show transcends the typical confines of a travel show, steering away from standard formats to embrace a more genuine path to storytelling, where Kapoor and Paul are guided by their insatiable curiosity and passion for adventure, towards a city that they have known and loved for decades. Their reactions, from laughter to awe, unfold naturally as they witness the hidden gems, subcultures and authentic experiences as they explore the streets of Dubai. The passion driving the duo through their journey further builds a profound connection with their narrative. "Once Upon A Trip! To Dubai" is more than a show; it’s a genuine portrayal of travel, where the spirit of Dubai comes alive in its most authentic form."Once Upon A Trip! To Dubai'' heralds a new era in travel storytelling, one that extends beyond the traditional methods of showcasing a destination. It dives deep into the rich tapestry of experiences and emotions that truly resonate with Indian audiences. In choosing to collaborate with JioTV, we recognized a shared vision for innovation and a unique approach to storytelling that aligns perfectly with our goals of acquainting the lesser-known sides of Dubai to an audience that resonates with the destination.   JioTV's commitment to quality content, unmatched distribution scale & audience engagement across India makes them an ideal partner for bringing this vision to life. Dubai, through the eyes of Kapoor and Paul, transforms into a character itself, full of stories waiting to be discovered - thereby making the wonders of Dubai accessible to all.Superstar & Actor Anil Kapoor, reflecting on his experience, said, "Working on 'Once Upon A Trip! To Dubai' has been a journey of rediscovery, both of the incredible city of Dubai and within myself. More than a project, it was a journey of the heart. Whenever I have explored Dubai, I have not only just encountered stories; I discovered pieces of myself in every corner. There's a raw and real quality to this experience, so different from the scripted roles I’m used to. It's about forming genuine connections, embracing laughter, and the unexpected surprises along the way. This show particularly has allowed me to see Dubai with a sense of wonder and authenticity. JioTV, serving as a robust and expansive platform, is the perfect powerhouse for presenting this authentic journey to our viewers at a grand scale. My hope is that it will inspire our audience to appreciate the beauty of Dubai and the magic inherent in the real-life adventures that I shared with Maniesh.”Actor Maniesh Paul further added his unique flair, “'Once Upon A Trip! To Dubai' was an adventure like no other, blending my love for traveling with the uncharted wonders of Dubai. Each day was a new adventure in this magnificent city uncovering a new sense of wonder and joy. 'Once Upon A Trip! To Dubai' brought out an authentic joy and spontaneity that was refreshingly real. The streets of Dubai aren’t just backdrops; they’re alive with stories and unexpected turns, much like my own journey that I shared with AK. This show has been a revelation, showing me the power of impromptu moments and the genuine connections that come from shared laughter and experiences. JioTV has played an indispensable role in bringing this exhilarating journey to the screens, making it a grand experience for our viewers. I hope our audience finds as much joy and surprise in watching this travel show as I did in creating it.”The show culminates in a captivating finale featuring a special guest appearance by the talented Emirati soul singer Arqam Al Abri whose musical artistry adds a distinctive and enriching dimension to the last episode, beautifully echoing Dubai’s rich and diverse artistic landscape.Produced by Stars "n" Stripes and directed by Satyajit Kadam, who has a notable advertising career and accolades like the Cannes Lion and Spikes Asia, ‘Once Upon a Trip! To Dubai’, also features the visual finesse of acclaimed cinematographer Satchit Paulose, known for his work on "Pathaan" and "Fighter”.Get ready for a one-of-a-kind journey. "Once Upon A Trip! To Dubai" is more than just a show; it's an immersive experience, an innovation, a heartwarming journey, streaming exclusively on JioTV, starting this weekend.

Lionsgate carves out $4.6 bn studio business in new merger deal

Lionsgate is set to transform its studio business through a strategic merger with Screaming Eagle Acquisition Corporation, a special purpose acquisition company (Spac) helmed by Hollywood executives Harry Sloan and Jeff Sagansky. The significant deal, valuing the studio division at $4.6 billion, represents a milestone in the entertainment industry.Streaming platform Starz will continue to be under the Lionsgate ownership.The new firm, Lionsgate Studios, will consolidate the motion picture and TV studio divisions of Lionsgate, known for franchises like John Wick and the Oscar-winning film La La Land. Lionsgate Studios will also encompass the company's talent management, production, and distribution businesses.As part of this deal, Lionsgate Studio will get a total of $350 million, with half of the amount sourced from the cash held in the Screaming Eagle Acquisition Corporation trust and the remaining portion from a private investment in public equity. "This transaction creates one of the world’s largest publicly traded pure-play content platforms," said Lionsgate Chief Executive Jon Feltheimer and Vice-Chair Michael Burns in a joint statement released on Friday.Lionsgate, known for iconic franchises such as the Hunger Games and Twilight, will retain an 87.3% stake in the newly formed Lionsgate Studios, with Screaming Eagle owning the remaining shares.The decision to spin out Lionsgate Studios comes two years after Harry Sloan, former chair of Hollywood studio MGM and current Screaming Eagle board member, joined Lionsgate’s board of directors.

Admitad's forecast: MENA e-commerce adapts and thrives in festive season

The approaching Christmas and New Year period presents another significant opportunity for the e-commerce industry. To better assess the sales potential during this time, Admitad, a global affiliate marketing network, analyzed 11 million orders of 2850 brands worldwide and in MENA placed by users between December 18, 2022, and January 7, 2023. The results obtained by the company shed new light on both global trends and unique features of the MENA market.Global Sales Trends:General statistics from the global market during December 18, 2022, to January 7, 2023, reveals interesting dynamics. Despite a marginal 1.5% decrease in the number of orders, the Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) witnessed a substantial 7.2% increase. The Average Order Value (AOV) demonstrated a noteworthy 8.8% growth, rising from $36.2 to $39.4. Mobile orders constituted a substantial 33% of total sales.In an unexpected turn, sales through marketplaces declined from 64% to 60%. This suggests a potential advantage for proprietors of independent trading platforms, websites, and applications during the upcoming Christmas period.Diversity characterizes sales sources during the festive season, with content platforms, cashback services, partner stores, coupons, and mobile applications emerging as the most effective channels. Contextual ads were found to be 15% more effective during the analyzed period, with in-app ads showing a remarkable 25% increase.Dynamic Development in MENA E-commerce:The analysis of collected data suggests that sales during the Christmas-New Year period will contribute to the dynamic development of the e-commerce market in the MENA region. The notable increase in mobile orders emphasizes the ongoing importance for brands to prioritize mobile devices and incorporate relevant information about popular product categories when designing Christmas offers.In the MENA market, there is a blend of global trends and regional nuances. From December 18, 2022, to January 7, 2023, local sales and GMVs experienced a commendable 15% increase. However, the AOV witnessed a slight decrease from $28.7 to $25.5. On a positive note, mobile orders in MENA increased from 58% to an impressive 65%.Categories with the Most Significant Sales Growth in MENA:Event Tickets & Entertainments: +67%Lights & Lighting: +25%Games: +22%Electronics: +10%Fashion: +9%Most Effective Traffic Sources by Share of Sales:The driving forces behind successful sales during this festive period include engaging content platforms, strategic contextual ads, enticing affiliate stores, rewarding cashback services, tempting coupons, vibrant social networks, and practical browser extensions. Notably, contextual and targeted ads exhibit a noteworthy 25% boost in effectiveness throughout the winter holidays, while content platforms showcase an even more impressive 30% surge in effectiveness during this joyful season.In conclusion, the growth in sales during the holiday season in the MENA market underscores a unique blend of cultural nuances and economic factors that contribute to this annual surge. Businesses in the MENA region leverage the holiday season as an opportune time for promotions, discounts, and special offers, encouraging heightened consumer spending. The observed uptick in sales year over year reflects the adaptability and innovation of the industry in catering to the diverse expectations of consumers during this special time of the year.

1 Billion Followers Summit unveils second lineup of content creators

The 1 Billion Followers Summit, the world's largest gathering of content creators, has announced a fresh lineup of guests, including 12 of the biggest influencers, with a collective following of more than 160 million, that will participate in the second edition slated for January 10-11 at the iconic Emirates Towers and the Museum of the Future in Dubai.The social media sensations who are masters in their respective fields encompassing lifestyle, food, sports, science, education, and media, are set to transform the highly anticipated summit organised by New Media Academy (NMA) under the theme 'Get Connected' into an extraordinary confluence of creativity, insight, and inspiration, through sharing their exciting online journeys during the two-day event.ComedyOsama Marwah, ‘Ossy’, as he's known, from Syria, embarked on his content creation journey in 2019 and now boasts over 13.5 million followers. Known for engaging and informative content, Ossy is a People's Choice Awards nominee and the MC for the latest Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards.Palestinian visual content creator Wissam Qutob, with 10 million followers, is making waves with hilarious social media comedy sketches. His versatility extends to television, music, and fashion, reflecting the immense talent of Middle Eastern youth.Lifestyle, Bloggers, and All What’s in BetweenKnown as “BJ Life”, Bashayer Jumaah, with a staggering 16 million followers, stands as one of Kuwait's most prominent lifestyle vloggers, while Syrian sensation Ghaith Marwan boasts a global fan base of 15.3 million, earning recognition with awards like the Kids Choice Awards in 2023 and the YouTube Trailblazer Award in 2022.Jordan’s Ahmad Aburob, with over 14.5 million followers, enchants audiences with enthralling storytelling and natural charisma. Recently crowned with the "Middle Eastern Social Media Star” at the 2022 People’s Choice Awards, Ahmad is a versatile content creator celebrated across Instagram and YouTube. One of Canada’s most prominent content creators in this category, Saif Shawaf, joins the summit’s lineup. With over 12 million followers, he captivates audiences with engaging street-style interviews and innovative series like “Talent On The Streets”.Finally, dynamic influencer Raghad Fahmi from Jordan effortlessly juggles dentistry studies with her trendy pursuits. With 11.5 million followers, Raghad's Instagram radiates elegance, offering a peek into her impeccable style.Science & ExperimentsAbdullah Annan, the science aficionado from Egypt, graduated in petroleum engineering and mesmerises with thrilling experiments on his YouTube channel “Science Street”. At the summit, he plans to showcase to his 15 million followers that knowledge is not just information but an exhilarating life experience.MediaLebanese talk show host and media executive Malek Maktabi boasts a massive following of over 14 million. Committed to empowering youth and conveying messages of hope, Malek is also the founder of Beyond Imagination Content Creation.Food & CookingVersatile talent Chef Shaheen from Iraq, with 14.1 million followers, transitioned from architectural engineering to culinary passion. His journey spans culinary expertise, content creation, and a charismatic persona, making him a renowned chef in the MENA region.SportsHailed as the greatest freestyle football athlete globally and with more than 13 million followers, Sèan Garnier from France has left an indelible mark on the football world. His unique blend of freestyle, street soccer, breakdancing, and music has made him a global sensation.This year's summit will build upon the success of its first edition, which featured 75+ speakers, 6,500+ attendees, and 40+ sessions and workshops. The 2024 edition is expected to go even bigger and better, hosting 100+ speakers in 50+ expert-led sessions and workshops, and 7,000+ attendees, including 3,000 content creators, influencers and creatives from all around the globe.

Global luxury market projected to reach €1.5trln in 2023

The global luxury market is projected to reach €1.5 trillion in 2023, an 8-10% growth over 2022, setting a new record for the industry and proving its unparalleled resilience. These are among the findings of the latest Bain & Company report with Altagamma, the Italian luxury goods manufacturers’ industry association. Spending on experiences, particularly, recovered to historic highs, fueled by a resurgence in social interactions and travel.Despite challenging macroeconomic conditions, the market registered robust growth of 11-13%, at constant exchange rates. This is consistent with last year’s growth rate and translates to a ~€160 billion increment in spending across luxury categories.Amid pronounced geopolitical and macroeconomic shifts, the luxury market has proven unparalleled resilience this year. The key segment, personal luxury goods, has experienced continued growth in 2023 and is projected to reach €362 billion by end of year, 4% higher than 2022 at current exchange rates.However, headwinds remain heading into the fourth quarter, including fragile consumer confidence, macroeconomic tensions in China, and sparse signs of recovery in the US. The research suggests a softening personal luxury goods performance in 2024, achieving low-to-mid single digit growth over 2023, based on current scenarios.“This is a defining moment for brands, and the winners will separate themselves through resilience, relevance, and renewal—the basics of the new value-centered luxury equation,” said Claudia D’Arpizio, a Bain & Company partner and leader of Bain’s global Luxury Goods and Fashion practice, the lead author of the study. “The luxury market is generating positive growth for 65-70% of brands in 2023, compared to 95% in 2022. To stay in the game, it will be crucial for brands to take bold decisions on behalf of their customers.”“The market is set for long-term growth, rooted on strong fundamentals,” said Federica Levato, partner at Bain & Company and leader of the firm’s EMEA Luxury Goods and Fashion practice, co-author of today’s report. “Capturing and amplifying the market potential will be key, as the clear convergence among luxury markets allows for further expansion. Players have the opportunity, but also the responsibility, to reinforce their meaning, while leveraging strategic M&A to redefine the boundaries of the industry. These will be foundational drivers for growth in the future.”Regional perspectives: European tourism rebounds, American spending decelerates, and Chinese consumers fuel the Asian luxury ecosystemThe study shows global luxury tourist purchases have nearly reached pre-pandemic levels, with untapped potential remaining in many areas. Europe has enjoyed a progressive pickup in tourism, driving growth across countries, with long-haul resort locations attracting high spenders alongside key luxury cities. Even if local aspirational customers were impacted by macroeconomic instability, stable top-customer pools maintained positive momentum contributing to market growth.Alternatively, the Americas have seen a deceleration throughout the year, posting an 8% drop from 2022, as widespread uncertainty continues to impact aspirational customers’ spending. Top customers remain confident but have maintained their spending abroad, as the US dollar remains strong against the Euro and price differentials favor oversea purchases.Saudi Arabia is accelerating, attracting investments of major luxury brands; and Australia has provided fertile ground for growth.Mainland China posted a strong performance after its first quarter reopening but slowed progressively as new macroeconomic topics arose. Hainan is poised to grow as a bright luxury hub, set to become an entire duty-free island by 2025. Japan is booming, thanks to sound local customers and the weak Yen, favoring touristic inflows. Conversely, South Korea is facing a challenging year, with unfavorable macroeconomic headwinds impacting local consumption and strong currency leading tourists to buy elsewhere. Southeast Asian countries experienced positive momentum, thanks to strong intraregional tourism and growing interest from local consumers, especially in Thailand.Category perspectives: jewelry shines, consumer quest for experiences bolsters monobrand storesThe Bain and Altagamma analysis shows all luxury categories achieving growth, favored by continued price elevation, partially undermining volumes. Fueled by an investment mindset, jewelry is set to reach €30 billion in market value in 2023, with fine jewelry affirming itself as a bright spot for investments amid uncertainty. Ready-to-wear is showing positive growth, favored by top spenders on the ultra-high offer, with unfolding demand for excellence and durability. Beauty, driven by make-up and fragrances, is enjoying positive momentum, favored by the emerging lipstick effect in the Americas and Europe. Watches continue to thrive, despite a rising polarization around few industry winners. And after overperformance in recent years, growth in leather goods is slowing.In terms of channels, monobrand is leading the distribution ecosystem, favored by consumers’ quest for physical experiences and the increasing role of clienteling in sales. Physical and digital experiences are increasingly blending, requiring brands to deliver excellence in the experience across the whole consumer journey. Conversely, multi-brand environments suffer sharp slowdown in both department and specialty stores, with rising questions on how to evolve their value proposition to best serve consumers’ needs.Multi-generational complexity unfoldsBrands must navigate through rising multigenerational complexity, playing ambidextrously to serve different needs across the consumer base. Generation X and Y are in their peek income years, representing the bulk of luxury purchases and the key pool of income growth in the near future. However, Generation Z is positioned at the forefront of social and cultural change, inspiring other generations’ value systems, with a strong desire for lived experiences and quest for meaning. By 2030, Gen Z will account for 25-30% of luxury market purchases, while millennials will account for 50-55%.Luxury market in 2030: what’s next?Looking ahead to 2030, solid fundamentals are poised to continue to drive market growth, despite possible bumps along the route. Chinese customers will account for 35-40% of the personal luxury goods market, while Europeans and Americans together will represent 40%. And online and monobrand channels are expected to account for two-thirds of the entire market by 2030. In this context, brands will have to focus on providing differentiation and meaningful experiences across the whole customer journey, regardless of the touchpoint of interaction. This will also lead to a new season of M&A, driven by the necessity to address key challenges of the industry. Leading on sustainability and embracing tech will be key.Maintaining a purposeful approach will continue to be pivotal to long-term success. In an increasingly crowded market, brands must focus on creativity and innovation to enhance relevance to consumers, with the ultimate goal of cultivating a base of brand lovers to broaden their reach.Mastering short-term challenges is simultaneously critical. Brands must instill responsiveness and adaptability as guiding principles in their operations. This involves introducing flexibility in the business structure and optimizing governance and processes for efficiency.

Haltia.AI publishes groundbreaking research on LLM performance on smartphones

Haltia.AI, a UAE-based AI innovator, has just released a significant academic paper, marking a substantial contribution to the field of artificial intelligence. The study, titled "A Performance Evaluation of a Quantized Large Language Model on Various Smartphones," represents a breakthrough in understanding and optimizing Large Language Models (LLMs) for use on mobile devices.This research, endorsed and peer-reviewed, evaluates the performance of a specific LLM applied across all iPhone models. It represents a comprehensive and empirical examination of running state-of-the-art LLMs on smartphones, a first of its kind in the AI industry. The study meticulously analyzes factors affecting performance, such as power throttling and thermal effects, providing valuable insights into effective AI processing on portable devices.As a rising startup, Haltia.AI’s investment in such high-level research underscores its commitment to advancing the AI field. "Our aim is to not only develop innovative products but also contribute meaningfully to the scientific community," said Dr Tolga Çöplü, Head of Research at Haltia.AI. "This paper showcases our team's ability to conduct significant research, placing us in a league different from most startups in the AI space."The study's findings are crucial for understanding how to effectively run LLMs on mobile devices, opening up possibilities for AI applications where data privacy, security, and offline functionality are critical. The study indicates that recent iPhone generations can effectively run on-device LLMs, though advancements in power management and system integration are needed to maximize performance."We're excited about the implications of this research for the future of AI in everyday life," said Arto Bendiken, CTO and co-founder of Haltia.AI. "Our work demonstrates that advanced AI can be more than just a cloud-based service; it can be personal, private, and accessible anywhere."Haltia.AI plans to continue its research efforts, and to delve deeper into model compression and acceleration techniques. This ambitious goal highlights the startup’s dedication to being at the forefront of AI innovation and its commitment to contributing to the global AI community.

SOUM raises $18mln series A round led by Jahez

Soum, the Riyadh-headquartered marketplace for secondhand products, has successfully secured $18 million in Series A funding. This funding round is led by Jahez, with participation from Isometry Capital along with existing investors participating, Khwarizmi Ventures, Alrajhi Partners, and Outliers Venture Capital.Founded by Fahad Al Hassan, Bader Almubarak, and Fahad Albassam, Soum has witnessed tremendous growth since its seed round 18 months ago. The company’s sales have grown by 40x, underpinned by strong and improving unit economics, and maintaining an outstanding customer satisfaction score. Soum has delivered to and from 150+ Saudi cities, effectively building a first-of-its-kind unified national marketplace to buy, sell, and discover products with trust and convenience. The Soum app launched less than two years ago has already received more than 4 million downloads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and is seeing traction in the United Arab Emirates. Soum’s Series A funding will accelerate the company’s expansion regionally, as well as beyond its core vertical of secondhand electronics in which it enjoys market leadership in KSA. With the addition of high value categories for secondhand products, Soum will enable users to sell products ranging from collectibles to automobiles, tapping a combined $40Bn market.Fahad Alhassan, Co-Founder & CEO of Soum, said, "Soum was founded with a vision to be the marketplace to buy and sell anything online with convenience, trust and ease. The success of this funding round is a testament to the dedication of our entire team. With the backing of the region’s leading investors, we are excited to kick-off our next stage of growth, while continuing on our mission to transform how customers buy and sell online."Buyers and sellers in the MENA region have endured the frustration of navigating spam-infested classified platforms. By acting as a trusted intermediary for each transaction, Soum alleviates the stress of both buyers and sellers, ensuring a seamless and secure transaction.Commenting on the investment round, Abdulaziz Alhouti, Chief Investment Officer of Jahez, stated, "We are impressed by the remarkable achievements of the Soum team. Their dedication to innovation and customer satisfaction aligns with Jahez's vision. This investment is a testament to our confidence in Soum's potential to redefine the e-commerce landscape in the Middle East."With the Series A funding as a catalyst, Soum is poised for continued growth, aiming to set new standards in innovation, customer satisfaction, and market impact in the Middle East. Soum is a mobile app and available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Web 3 & AI professionals choose Dubai as new home

The broad spectrum of future technology is evolving fast. Lightning fast. As future tech companies have started to demand more from the cities they call home, investors also began to find themselves on an exhilarating journey. Seeking unparalleled opportunities that align with forward-thinking companies that promise not just returns, but the chance to be part of a revolution where growth knows no bounds. However, future tech companies require regulation that evolves with technological adoptions, low taxes to allow for pivoting and fast changes, and access to the best talent pools. Bridging this gap between regulation and advancements in Web 3 and AI, allow future tech companies to build on adaptive regulatory frameworks and give the chance for new tech to evolve. In addition, the friendly tax structures further enable this rapid adjustment that not only makes possible but also encourages the idea of investing in the future.These are all things that Dubai stands for, an environment that is open to change with world class infrastructure and a safe environment for growth. Not to mention, a lifestyle to be desired. With several government initiatives pushing forward future tech, Dubai has become one of the top 10 cities worldwide to run a Web 3 and AI company. And the evidence points to this: most future tech companies are either thinking about having Dubai as a second home or have already moved to make Dubai their first home.This is where METAVSUMMIT Dubai continues to deliver value to future tech companies in the Crypto, Metaverse & AI industry by providing a platform for high calibre businesses and investments in the Crypto, Metaverse and AI communities.METAVSUMMIT is the largest Web 3 event in the region, set to take place in Dubai, UAE, from January 10-11, 2024. METAVSUMMIT has consistently been a beacon for attracting the most active investors, industry thought leaders, and major strategic partners, including Fortune 500 companies from around the globe. Last year the event saw over 1700 attendees, delegates and partners at the Ritz Carlton, located in the Financial Heart of Dubai.We are excited to announce our 6th annual event hosted once again in Dubai's International Finance Centre district.Event Highlights:Date: January 10-11, 2024Location: Dubai International Finance CentreAttendees: 3000 physical participants, including Founders and CEOs of Web 3 companies & startups.Focus: Identifying the next "Unicorn" company in the rapidly evolving Web 3.0 & AI landscape.The event offers a unique opportunity for attendees to network, participate in workshops, and engage in training sessions, gaining insights into the latest products and services within the Web 3.0 & AI space.

Cisco reveals IT practices deployed by retailers to navigate shopping season

With the holiday season in full motion and retailers gearing up to attract shoppers with last-minute deals, managing a surge in traffic and an increasing volume of cyberattacks can present a myriad of challenges. As criminals target vulnerabilities in the infrastructure of both physical and digital stores, Cisco reveals the top technology investments designed to help retailers maintain consumer trust and ensure a successful commercial period.Brands need to quickly prioritize the protection of consumer information – particularly given the detrimental impact a data leak can have on both consumer and employee trust. In a physical store, retailers face pressure to identify and reduce inventory shrinkage and other losses caused by theft, fraud and clerical errors, whilst also providing a safe environment for their staff and customers.Leveraging Advancements in Space Monitoring and Artificial IntelligenceMany retailers are deploying space monitoring and tracking technologies, while others are also implementing AI-based behavior detection. These technologies can be useful tools for both security and personalization.Retailers are often looking for ways to achieve the seamless experience of e-commerce in their stores. By using smart cameras that incorporate AI models, they can identify congestion hot spots or cold spots where products are less popular, as well as understand behavior to improve the customer journey. Alongside this, they can optimize stock levels based on past or predicted demand and map a customer’s in-store browsing either through in-store video or smart devices.Addressing the Skills GapAs retailers look to manage cybersecurity needs and mitigate risk, upskilling and retraining staff with key skills is essential. Whether working in merchandising, compliance, operations, information security, digital, or data – it is paramount that employees across all departments adapt to the constantly changing market through education. By delivering the right training content for both physical client-facing staff and back-office employees, a range of issues from theft in store to phishing attacks can be reduced or ideally avoided altogether.Security Strategy and ManagementFaced with a complex and highly adaptive threat landscape, retailers are increasingly opting for outsourced security strategy and management. This is understandable, given the complex nature of data protection.Many retailers globally are concerned about the data governance and security implications of moving highly sensitive data to a cloud security system. Data leakage and reputational damage are also high on the list of concerns, showing that protecting customer data is an imperative for retailers. Competitive advantage is hard fought and data breaches and leaks can see retailers lose the trust they carefully build with their customers.Across the board, but particularly at this peak time of year for retailers, an integrated, cloud-based platform should be sought out to prevent these types of incidents by managing distributed workforces at scale. It can keep data safe on-premises, in the cloud, and in hybrid environments across the company’s entire ecosystem, while detecting threats quickly throughout an organization.Physical and online retail environments need to focus in on an ongoing, scalable strategy; one that can bend and flex under pressure – not a collection of solutions that are applied and removed depending on the time of year. Too many disparate ideas and solutions will end up being confusing for staff and could play into the hands of the very people retailers want to stop.

Parsons outlines the latest trends driving aviation, rail, and AI

Parsons Corporation (NYSE: PSN) has unveiled the latest trends that are driving best practices for sustainability in the region across key sectors such as aviation, rail, and artificial intelligence (AI).“Parsons has served in the Middle East for more than 65 years and has successfully completed more than 900 projects in the UAE alone,” said Martin Boson, General Manager Parsons Saudi Arabian Operations. “Through our work in the region, we actively demonstrate innovation and drive the implementation of sustainable and resilient infrastructure. We look forward to continuing to play an active role in advancing the growth of the region’s economy and vision as we stay ahead of trends and help our clients adapt as required.”According to Parsons, key trends across critical sectors in the UAE include:Rail as a sustainable form of transportEconomic growth linked to increasing urban populations and associated traffic congestion has led to numerous passenger transit investments. In addition to aiding the growth of the economy, there are innumerable benefits to the environment. Mass transit is inherently the most sustainable form of transport given the carbon impact is much less compared to road and air travel, be it metro or rail, high-speed respectively. Rail transportation of goods has a similarly massive impact on carbon reduction by taking heavy goods vehicles off the road.The success of Dubai passenger operation and ridership has set a precedent in the region. Looking forward, high-speed is the next big passenger opportunity to build connectivity between cities and to complement the metro services within cities.Ensuring aviation infrastructure sustainabilityAs innovative infrastructure projects continue to transform the Middle East into an international destination, airport asset owners and operators are looking for opportunities to improve efficiency, throughput, and sustainability not just on the airside —runways, aprons, taxi ways, etc.— but also on landside such as terminals and supporting infrastructure. Parsons adopted a comprehensive approach to deliver sustainable infrastructure, improve operations, and enhance the traveller experience, from technology-driven solutions to PMC practices. With this approach, airports can minimize the environmental impact while ensuring continued growth and development.Seamless integration of AI in construction and engineeringParsons is integrating, streamlining, and scaling artificial intelligence (AI) and 360-degree imagery on nearly 30 deployments, including mega- and giga-projects, across the Middle East. Working with, the company is leveraging the platform for this initiative, combining the latest in technology with advanced construction supervision technologies to improve efficiency throughout the project lifecycle. Pierre Santoni, President of Europe, Middle East, and Africa at Parsons, stated, "The engineering sector is undergoing a transformative revolution led by artificial intelligence. Parsons distinguishes its projects through our proficiency in implementing cutting-edge technologies, fostering a smooth integration of AI and introducing an era of unparalleled efficiencies and capabilities."With a regional team of more than 6,000 employees, Parsons brings deep domain expertise across urban development, smart mobility, asset management, design, sustainability, and landscape architecture.To learn more about how Parsons is delivering critical infrastructure in the Middle East, visit

Dubai Duty Free’s milestone 40th anniversary sales reach AED54.2mln in 24 hours

Dubai Duty Free sales on its milestone 40th anniversary topped Dhs54.2 million (US$14.8 million) supported by a special 25% discount on a wide range of merchandise for 24 hours.The anniversary sale, which was also extended to its Home Delivery and Click & Collect offer resulted in a spending spree at Dubai International and Al Maktoum International airports with sales 53% higher than December 20th last year.From a category point of view, Perfumes was the highest-selling category, with sales of Dhs12.4 million (US$3.4 million) during the anniversary day sale, followed by Watches with sales of Dhs7.5 million (US$2.1 million), while ticket sales for Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire reached a staggering Dhs6.6 million (US$1.8 million). Liquor took the fourth spot with sales of Dhs6.4 million (US$1.8 million), followed by Cosmetics with sales of Dhs4.3 million (US$1.2 million).Commenting on the success of the 40th anniversary sale, Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free said: “We are very pleased with the positive result of our 40th anniversary sales across all Concourses within 24 hours. There was huge excitement amongst our customers and staff on the day and I would like to thank everyone for contributing towards our milestone anniversary celebrations.”Meanwhile, online sales topped Dhs7.5 million (US$2.1 million) with a total of 5,815 combined orders received through Click & Collect and Home Delivery service as well as tickets for the Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire and Finest Surprise promotions purchased online.During the 24-hour anniversary sales, the cash registers recorded a total of 79,812 sales transactions while the Dubai Duty Free's Distribution Centre issued 800 pallets of merchandise and the total number of picks in the warehouse was 8,041 for 265,799 units of merchandise.The Dubai Duty Free anniversary promotion is now a highly anticipated event with many travelers choosing to travel on the day when the 25% discount is offered. The Dubai Duty Free Anniversary offer was first introduced when the airport retailer marked its 20th Anniversary in 2003 and continues to be popular over what is traditionally a busy travel period.

After its debut at Sole DXB, Cariuma all set to expand in the ME

Cariuma, a Brazilian B-Corp sneaker brand, which made its debut at the Sole DXB Festival, is expanding its presence in the Middle East now. The fact that Cariuma is a B-Corp company, meeting high standards for social and environmental responsibility, adds a commendable layer to its brand identity. The activation at the festival, with product familiarization sessions, live art installations, competitions, and skatepark demos, seems to have provided a dynamic introduction to the region.The booth's design, inspired by Cariuma's commitment to skate culture and sustainability, reflects the brand's values, especially with the use of real plants and bamboo to symbolize the reforestation initiative. The emphasis on the newly launched IBI, the first-ever sneaker crafted from Bamboo and RPET, demonstrates Cariuma's dedication to innovative and sustainable practices.The engagement with the local skate community, featuring talents like Josh Bell, Don Bascon, Carlos Santiago, and Vincent Solimar, highlights Cariuma's efforts to connect with the culture and its organic growth within the region. The skatepark activities, such as the sticker lob contest, add a fun and interactive element to the overall experience.The timing of Cariuma's entry into the Middle East, against the backdrop of COP 28 and the region's increased focus on sustainability, seems strategic. The alignment of the brand's commitment to positive environmental impact with the local eagerness for green initiatives provides a fitting entry point into the market. It's a positive step towards fostering positive change and promoting sustainable practices in the region.

Medcare and Aster Pharmacy announce Andrey Rublev as brand ambassador

Andrey Rublev, international tennis champion ranked at World No.5, joins Medcare and Aster Pharmacy as Brand Ambassador. Medcare, a premium healthcare brand with a presence across Dubai and Sharjah through 4 hospitals and 20 medical centres, would uphold this collaboration to showcase its world-class facilities matched with top-notch clinical excellence, in alignment with the Happiness begins with Health campaign, launched earlier this year, encouraging individuals to prioritize their own and their family’s well-being.Andrey would also champion Aster Pharmacy’s Wellness, Nutrition and Lifestyle segment which comprises of top brands and products to support an individual’s health and wellness journey.Andrey, a 26-year-old Russian professional tennis player, has won 14 ATP singles championships, including an ATP 1000 title in Monte Carlo this year. He has established himself as one of the new generation of young, talented players to compete in the top tiers of men's tennis. The athlete is currently in town to participate in the World Tennis League taking place in Abu Dhabi from 21-24th December, 2023.Announcing the partnership, Andrey Rublev stated, “As a professional athlete, I’ve always been an advocate of health, fitness and healthy living. Partnering with Medcare’s “Happiness Begins with Health” campaign, as well as Aster Pharmacy’s focus on Delivering Good Health & Happiness, makes perfect sense to me. Joining the company is an opportunity for me to make an impact on people’s lives and I hope that my vision for a healthier society will encourage people and their families to be proactive about staying healthy.” He continued, "I am amazed by Medcare’s world-class facilities, combined with their excellent staff and top-notch medical expertise, they are all set to make a difference to society.”Alisha Moopen, Managing Director and Group CEO of Aster DM Healthcare GCC, expressed her enthusiasm for the collaboration by saying, "Andrey Rublev joining us as our brand ambassador aligns with our aim to encourage people to prioritize their own health, wellbeing and fitness. As one of the leading athletes and tennis champions, his commitment to fitness and healthy living is remarkable and we are confident that as our ambassador for Medcare and Aster Pharmacy, he would be able to share our message with a global audience and encourage them to take proactive measures to safeguard their own and their family’s health.”His generosity and dedication to social concerns also makes him the ideal embodiment of our group's values. We are excited to work together to enable people to prioritise their health."Speaking on the connect between sports and health, Rahul Kadavakolu, Group Chief Marketing Officer of Aster DM Healthcare said, “Andrey is one of the fittest athletes and an icon for the current and next generation athletes and fans. The link between health and the world of sports is inseparable and as we encourage our customers and patients to prioritize their own health and well-being, there can be no-one better than Andrey to help spread our message across GCC and the rest of the world.”Aster Pharmacy and Medcare are eager to embark on a number of community-focused initiatives with Andrey's support and cooperation. These initiatives will include health awareness campaigns, visits by Andrey to Medcare hospital's pediatric departments, and endeavors to provide healthcare to all segments of society. The appointment of Andrey Rublev as brand ambassador by Aster DM Healthcare demonstrates the group's commitment to excellence, compassion, and quality healthcare.

PROVEN Solution to reshape industry landscape with innovative AR offerings

PROVEN Solution, a leading enterprise focused on innovative technological solutions in AI, robotics, and AR/VR, has announced its plans to strengthen their Augmented Reality (AR) offerings, demonstrating ongoing advancements and technological breakthroughs.PROVEN Solution has been strategically observing the expanding capabilities of AR, recognizing its potential to revolutionize products and customer projects. Over the past year, the company has intensively evaluated AR's escalating potential, particularly propelled by recent hardware advancements, making it increasingly market adaptable."AR represents an unprecedented opportunity for us and our strategy involves a dual approach," says Pavel Makarevich, VP of PROVEN Solution. "We are committed to developing our proprietary AR products while tailoring customized applications for our clientele. We envision a landscape where a fusion of virtual and physical elements not only enhances knowledge acquisition but also provides a hands-on, interactive experience across diverse sectors such as education, healthcare, and training."AR stands poised to elevate applications to new heights by combining virtual and physical components, which has piqued the interest among companies concerning the GCC market’s readiness for AR integration. This aims for scenario-based learning and real-time practical exposure, fostering interactive engagements through AR technology. However, the current phase is characterized by exploration and experimentation, as businesses discern optimal use cases aligned with their operations."Healthcare, education, and training are our primary domains," added Pavel. "We foresee synergistic integration between technology and our expertise in these sectors, empowering our clients with immersive AR experiences."Acknowledging the investment required for AR development, PROVEN Solution emphasizes its expertise gained from existing VR ventures, streamlining technical knowledge. While hardware costs for AR remain relatively high, the company foresees a progressive decline as the technology matures in the coming years.In 2024, PROVEN Solution has earmarked AR as the cornerstone of its R&D endeavours. The company aims to integrate AR across many of its products, empowering clients to capitalize on this transformative technology.

French childrenswear brand Petit Bateau debuts new flagship store at Mall

Petit Bateau, the renowned French baby & kids wear brand, has opened a new flagship store at Mall of the Emirates that offers guests a reimagined shopping experience along with a greater selection of its latest collections and classic designs.The store is a first-of-its-kind concept for Petit Bateau and is also the largest Petit Bateau store in the Middle East and Asia. In the UAE, Petit Bateau has worked with Al Khayyat Investments (AKI) as a trusted retail partner for over a decade, with plans to further expand Petit Bateau’s presence in the region with new stores across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.As Petit Bateau commemorates its 130th anniversary, the new store at Mall of the Emirates signifies the brand’s renewed commitment to French heritage and high-quality fashion, while also blending local Arabic influences into the façade design. In addition to the latest Petit Bateau collections, the flagship store showcases iconic products pioneered by the brand, from the first washable cotton pants to the two-stripe knit fabric, and even the illustrious mix between a bodysuit and pajamas – known as ‘bodyjamas’.Speaking at the opening, Emad Hussein, General Manager of the Fashion Division, AKI, said: “We saw a big ambition for Petit Bateau in the market and chose to open the largest store in all the Middle East and Asia at Mall of Emirates. Remaining a loved member of the local community, we will continue to build the Petit Bateau reputation for excellence among families as well as the international visitors on holiday in the UAE.”The new store features a dedicated play area for kids, ensuring a family-friendly and enjoyable experience for all. A VIP area provides a comfortable space for parents to relax, with an array of gift offerings also on hand. Petit Bateau’s commitment to sustainability is evident in the store’s design, featuring eco-responsible materials and re-usable original wood furniture. The brand aims to promote a connection with nature and educate children on nature protection through workshops and interactive events hosted at the store. By 2025, Petit Bateau will use 100% eco-responsible materials to make its clothing.Marc Ardisson, Managing Director for APAC & Middle East at Petit Bateau, noted: “It remains very important to us to offer a unique retail experience when consumers visit Petit Bateau in store; one that complements our expanded online presence. The Mall of the Emirates outlet does just this. Petit Bateau only entered the UAE in 2012 but through our partnership with AKI, it has quickly been able to resonate with consumers locally and grow in popularity even beyond our expectations. We have big ambitions moving forward in the UAE and the wider region, and we are confident that our strategic partnership with Al Khayyat Investments (AKI) will be instrumental in realizing these aspirations and driving remarkable achievements.”

Instinctif Partners’ Frederic Cornet on shaping capital markets in the MENA

Frederic Cornet is a specialist communicator in investor relations and financial communications, overseeing capital market teams in the Middle East and Africa. He provides support to issuers on prominent stock exchanges such as the Saudi Exchange, Nasdaq Dubai, London Stock Exchange (LSE), Euronext, Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), and various other African bourses.With a focus on advising executive teams and boards, Frederic Cornet possesses a comprehensive understanding of market dynamics across diverse territories. His extensive knowledge and experience play a crucial role in successfully positioning clients within capital markets. In an exclusive interview with Adgully Middle East, Frederic Cornet, Managing Partner and Head of Capital Markets, Middle East & Africa at Instinctif Partners, discusses his professional journey and highlights the progress that Instinctif Partners has made in the region over the last few years. Excerpts:Can you share insights into your professional journey this far?I have spent over 20 years in financial communications and investor relations on the agency side, servicing a broad range of mainly publicly traded clients in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Previously based in Johannesburg, I am now in Dubai, overseeing our capital markets teams across the Middle East and Africa.Instinctif Partners has a presence across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Could you provide details about your Middle East partners and any upcoming collaborations on the horizon?Our presence in the middle east goes back 15 years, and we’ve experienced exponential growth in the past few years in line with the region’s development and ambitious government-driven plans to diversify and expand their economies.Currently, our team comprises over 50 professionals based in Dubai and Riyadh, offering advisory services to clients in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other Gulf countries. In addition to investor relations and financial communications, we also offer corporate communications, crisis management, annual report production, ESG advisory and digital services.We are also opening an office in Abu Dhabi to reinforce our UAE presence and support our public policy ambitions. This is one of the key growth areas for us, and we have just welcomed a new partner to head that team. Other initiatives to reinforce our sustainability and digital offerings are also nearing completion.In your role as a market advisor, what communication strategies have you implemented in the Middle East, and how have they positively impacted your partners?The status of the region and the perceptions of it are shifting as countries become global influencers economically and diplomatically. In 2022 alone, companies in the Middle East raised nearly 30% of the total capital across global equity markets, including through over 40 IPOs. Saudi Arabia’s bourse is now one of the top 10 stock exchanges in the world, too.Against this backdrop, we are focused on supporting the major shifts taking place in the world of investor relations. Trust and transparency are vital, and we are helping companies rethink their engagement strategies to compete for attention, capital, and talent. It’s about delivering communications that exceed market expectations pre- and post-IPOs and support an optimal valuation for their shares.Importantly, because investor relations is still a relatively new discipline in the region, we also partner with industry bodies such as the Middle East Investor Relations Association (MEIRA) and various stock exchanges to drive awareness and expand the adoption of best practices for investor relations in the region.Could you highlight a strategy that has been challenging yet well-received, causing you both concern and appreciation? Please share your experience.The accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of financial disclosures are continually improving, with a growing trend towards providing forward-looking guidance on future performance.This was previously non-existent, but as regulations evolve and international investors increase their investments in regional shares, a key challenge has been to help leadership teams take the leap and voluntarily provide guidance to the market on their future financial, operational and ESG performance.There is clear evidence that investors and analysts are not only appreciative but also tend to favour companies that provide these disclosures.How crucial is effective communication to the success or failure of a project in your perspective?Consistent, transparent and predictable communications are essential in shaping the perceptions and understanding around what a company is aiming to achieve.For us, this is the foundation to deliver evidence that help the investment community evaluate our clients’ overall performance, risk management practices, and commitment to sustainable and responsible business practices beyond financial metrics.In what ways have digital platforms and social media contributed to the development of the Middle East as a burgeoning business market? What are your predictions for their future impact?Online platforms have enhanced accessibility to information and supported entrepreneurship in the region by creating new opportunities for individuals and companies to expand their reach.From an investor relations perspective, it has enhanced transparency and engagements by making information more evenly available.Digital media will continue to play an important role in amplifying the reach of communications and remain the most effective way to interact with retail investors which is a very active stakeholder group in the region.Looking ahead five years, where do you envision yourself professionally, and do you have any aspirations on your career bucket list?The outlook for both the Middle East and Africa is exciting, and presents so much potential professionally. I look forward to continue growing talent and providing high-quality advisory to senior leadership teams across these two regions as they navigate the inevitable disruptions that will influence their businesses.

BTEA introduces 'Celebrate Bahrain' to spark festive season delight

The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) announced the final list of events and activities, themed “Celebrate Bahrain” to be held in in collaboration with partners, marking the kingdom’s national days. The diverse arrangement implies a fusion of family, musical, cultural, and sporting events set to captivate citizens, residents, and visitors alike throughout the month of December. The festivities begin with a series of events, such as the enchanting “Festival City,” a carnival showcasing several entertainment games, delectable restaurants, and live performances for families to enjoy. The celebration continues with the second edition of the Heritage Village, showcasing Bahrain’s rich cultural heritage. For those looking for a unique shopping experience, the annual “Autumn Fair” takes place at the Exhibition World Bahrain. This exhibition offers a diverse range of shopping opportunities, adding a vibrant touch to the festive season. As the year comes to a close, the New Year's Eve celebrations promise to be spectacular. Various locations such as Marassi Al Bahrain, Bahrain Bay, Water Garden City, Bahrain Financial Harbour, Bahrain Fort, Bahrain National Museum, and Al Najma Club are set to host events featuring dazzling fireworks displays. These gatherings provide a fantastic way for residents and visitors alike to ring in the New Year with joy and excitement. The festivities also include the return of the Muharraq Nights Festival offering an immersive experience in the heart of Muharraq City. For sports enthusiasts, the calendar boasts prestigious events such as the Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship, Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, horseracing competitions, and the Brave championship series. To enhance the tourist experience, Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) also introduced special packages focusing on various fields, such as exploring Bahrain's rich musical and cultural diversity, golf experiences, New Year's celebrations, coral events, and sports. Each package was curated to provide unique offers and benefits for a memorable stay. As part of these extraordinary offerings, Gulf Air extended a festive gesture with a generous 16% discount on flight offers, ensuring a seamless journey to Bahrain's enchanting festivities. Furthermore, shoppers and diners enjoyed treats with discounts and prize opportunities at Moda Mall, City Centre Bahrain, Seef Mall, and The Avenues. For a hassle-free and immersive stay, tourists could avail themselves of comprehensive packages covering accommodation, entertainment, and transportation. As the enchanting "Celebrate Bahrain" events unfold," Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority stands ready to welcome citizens, residents, and visitors alike to immerse themselves in the vibrant festivities, creating enduring memories in the heart of the kingdom. Simultaneously, BTEA is poised for action, gearing up to launch intensified promotional campaigns that aim to not only showcase the significance of the festivities but also to ensure maximum global participation.

European Commission launches investigation against X

The European Commission has opened formal proceedings to assess whether X may have breached the Digital Services Act (DSA) in areas linked to risk management, content moderation, dark patterns, advertising transparency and data access for researchers.On the basis of the preliminary investigation conducted so far, including on the basis of an analysis of the risk assessment report submitted by X in September, X's Transparency report published on 3 November, and X's replies to a formal request for information, which, among others, concerned the dissemination of illegal content in the context of Hamas' terrorist attacks against Israel, the Commission has decided to open formal infringement proceedings against X under the Digital Services Act.The proceedings will focus on the following areas:The compliance with the DSA obligations related to countering the dissemination of illegal content in the EU, notably in relation to the risk assessment and mitigation measures adopted by X to counter the dissemination of illegal content in the EU, as well as the functioning of the notice and action mechanism for illegal content in the EU mandated by the DSA, including in light of X's content moderation resources.The effectiveness of measures taken to combat information manipulation on the platform, notably the effectiveness of X's so-called ‘Community Notes' system in the EU and the effectiveness of related policies mitigating risks to civic discourse and electoral processes.The measures taken by X to increase the transparency of its platform. The investigation concerns suspected shortcomings in giving researchers access to X's publicly accessible data as mandated by Article 40 of the DSA, as well as shortcomings in X's ads repository.A suspected deceptive design of the user interface, notably in relation to checkmarks linked to certain subscription products, the so-called Blue checks.If proven, these failures would constitute infringements of Articles 34(1), 34(2) and 35(1), 16(5) and 16(6), 25(1), 39 and 40(12) of the DSA. The Commission will now carry out an in-depth investigation as a matter of priority. The opening of formal infringement proceedings does not prejudge its outcome.These are the first formal proceedings launched by the Commission to enforce the first EU-wide horizontal framework for online platforms' responsibility, just 3 years from its proposal.Next StepsAfter the formal opening of proceedings, the Commission will continue to gather evidence, for example by sending additional requests for information, conducting interviews or inspections.The opening of formal proceedings empowers the Commission to take further enforcement steps, such as interim measures, and non-compliance decisions. The Commission is also empowered to accept any commitment made by X to remedy on the matters subject to the proceeding.The DSA does not set any legal deadline for bringing formal proceedings to an end. The duration of an in-depth investigation depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the extent to which the company concerned cooperate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.The opening of formal infringement proceedings does not prejudge its outcome. It relieves Digital Services Coordinators, or any other competent authority of EU Member States, of their powers to supervise and enforce the DSA in relation to the suspected infringements of Articles 16(5), 16(6) and 25(1).

Sports Boulevard establishes a SAR1bln private real estate investment fund

In its inaugural private sector partnership, the Sports Boulevard Foundation (SBF) signed an agreement with Ajdan real estate development company, and Albilad Capital to establish a private mixed-use real estate fund valued at SAR 1 billion for the development of the private plots within the Arts District, one of the eight districts of the Sport Boulevard project.Structured as a private closed-ended real investment estate fund, managed by Albilad Capital, the collaboration aligns the interests of both the project and the private sector. The Sports Boulevard Development Company will be the major unitholder in the Fund, Ajdan Real Estate Development Company as a developer and co-investor, and Albilad Capital as the fund manager.The project aims to develop a diverse range of residential, retail, office, and entertainment spaces. The development will span over a 20,000 sqm area within the Sports Boulevard located on Prince Mohammed bin Salman Road and boast a built-up area (BUA) exceeding 120,000 sqm. All aspects of the development will be guided and informed by the Sports Boulevard’s Design Code, inspired by Salmani principles, and the project will encompass approximately 60,000 sqm of gross leasable areas, promising a dynamic and immersive experience for occupants and visitors alike.Jayne McGivern, CEO of the Sports Boulevard Foundation, said: “This strategic partnership marks a significant step forward in Riyadh’s urban development, and we are excited to work alongside our partners Ajdan Real Estate Development Company and Albilad Capital to introduce world-class facilities into Sports Boulevard’s Art District. From job creation to enabling the city’s residents to make healthier and more sustainable lifestyle choices, our partnership will have a positive impact on every aspect of society. It will truly support in redefining Riyadh’s landscape into one of the most liveable cities in the world, as part of the Kingdom’s ambitious Saudi Vision 2030 goals.”Eng. Mohammed, Al-Otaibi, CEO of Ajdan Real Estate Development said: “We are proud to announce the establishment of the Real Estate Fund through our strategic partnerships with the Sports Boulevard Development Company and Albilad Capital. This investment will support Sports Boulevard in its mission to provide world-class facilities to the people of Riyadh and will be key in supporting the Kingdom to deliver its Saudi Vision 2030 objectives.”Mr. Zaid Almufarih, CEO of Albilad Capital, said: “The new fund announced today by the The Sports Boulevard Development Company and Ajdan Real Estate Development Company marks a vital step forward in Riyadh’s transformation into one of the world’s top 10 most liveable cities, as part of the Kingdom’s ambitious Saudi Vision 2030 and Quality of Life goals. We look forward to working with both the Sports Boulevard Development Company and Ajdan Real Estate Development Company to turn this vision into a reality, along with this unique project’s objectives as we will invest in our technical and human capabilities to maintain excellence in managing high-quality products and leverage our expertise to accomplish the fund's goals and benefit its investors”.Within the Arts District, located at the intersection of Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Road with Prince Turki bin Abdulaziz Al Awwal Road, the project extends beyond the private development parcels, sitting on an area of 184,000 sqm and offering an enchanting public realm distinguished by recreational activities. With pedestrian and cyclist-friendly paths and trails, the Arts District is set to become a haven for efficient mobility while featuring distinguished artworks all seamlessly connected to the Promenade and cycling bridgeThe Sports Boulevard is one of Riyadh’s mega projects launched by The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz on March 19th, 2019. Supported by HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz. The project extends more than 135km on Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Road connecting Wadi Hanifah in the West with Wadi Al Sulai in the East through a grid of safe green pathways for pedestrians, cyclists, athletes, and horse-riders. The project includes 4.4 million square meters of greenery and open spaces, and up to 50 multidisciplinary sports facilities.

Pringles and Caviar become viral sensation on Instagram and TikTok

The collaboration between Kellanova's Pringles and The Caviar Co. is a unique example of a high-low snacking trend, blending upscale caviar with the popular, mass-market appeal of Pringles. The partnership began at the Interscope House during Coachella, where guests were served The Caviar Co.'s Kaluga Hybrid caviar alongside various Pringles flavors. The event gained significant attention on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, prompting the companies to explore a more formal collaboration.Mauricio Jenkins, US Marketing Lead for Pringles, said: “To satiate the craving of the TikTok community, we quickly joined forces with The Caviar Co. and united our culinary genius to expertly curate a new way for fans to enjoy the crisp flavours they know and love and provide the best experience for them to enjoy this trending combination,” Described as the "epitome" of the high-low snacking trend, the collaboration resulted in the Crisps and Caviar Collection, a limited-edition online shop launched in September. The collection features three different kits, each pairing Pringles flavors with different caviars. To enhance the experience, the kits include a gold collectible caviar key chain for opening tins and two spoons for enjoying the snack at home or on-the-go.The collaboration gained additional momentum when a July episode of Bravo's "Real Housewives of New York" showcased cast member Erin Lichy serving Pringles and caviar at a party. The moment went viral on the internet, particularly on TikTok, amassing over 10 billion views as of late August.Jenkins emphasized the role of TikTok in fueling cultural trends and how authentically leveraging these trends with the brand helps Pringles stay relevant among its fan base and the wider audience. The collaboration not only taps into social media trends but also builds authentic connections with fans by aligning with what's popular in culture.

Indian Expat Wins Life-Changing US$1 Million with Idealz

The UAE’s 52nd Union Day celebration is one that Shabana Unni, an Indian expatriate, will never forget because on this day, she received a phone call from Idealz that changed her life forever. On December 2nd at Dubai Festival City, during a live event, Shabana’s name was drawn from a barrel containing tens of thousands of others as she was named the winner of the One-Million-Dollar Union Day Grand Prize by Idealz, in partnership with Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE).Shabana, overwhelmed with joy and disbelief, expressed her gratitude to Idealz and DFRE for this incredible event. "My mother had previously won a AED1,000 cash prize with Idealz, which is what encouraged me to participate. When I received the news that I had won, I found myself repeatedly checking my messages in utter disbelief. As a single parent, I will now be able to secure my children’s future and provide them with quality education. I am also eager to contribute to my community and invest in a passion that I have long cherished in my heart. Having previously witnessed my mother win the cash prize with Idealz and having experienced the authentic prize collection process firsthand, I can attest to Idealz being a friendly, trustworthy platform. It's an affordable venture that can transform lives—a truly life-altering opportunity."The One-Million-Dollar campaign offered shoppers from all around the world a chance to win a life-changing cash prize by shopping at 'idealzbasics' for just AED50. Every purchase came with a complimentary ticket to the Grand Prize draw, giving everyone a fair shot at claiming the largest official Union Day prize ever given away, successfully combining the excitement of shopping with the chance to win. The success of this Union Day campaign is a testament that DFRE and Idealz, through their long-term partnership, remain committed to enriching the lives of shoppers in the Emirate whilst continuing to engage in a number of festivities throughout the year.

Larz & Ministry collaborate: Powering up sports landscape

 Dr. Ashraf Sobhy, Minister of Youth and Sports, witnessed the signing ceremony of a cooperation protocol between Larz Developments, a subsidiary of Al Gaweesh Group, and the Ministry of Youth And Sports. Inked by Dr. Essam Serag Eldin, Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports for Marketing and Investment, and Abdelrahman Gaweesh, Managing Director of Al Gaweesh Group and Larz Developments, this agreement marks a promising step forward in fostering sports initiatives.This collaboration aligns with Al Gaweesh Group's steadfast dedication to enhancing the sports industry and empowering young athletes by sponsoring and funding multiple projects initiated by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. In line with Egypt's vision for 2030, the ministry's projects encompass the National Talent and Olympic Sports Champion Project, the Sports Genomics Project, the Youth Football League project, and the African Union's Project for university sports.In his speech, Dr. Ashraf Sobhy, Minister of Youth and Sports, emphasized the aim of this protocol to reinforce the ministry's sports projects, enhance sports infrastructure in Egypt, and provide a conducive environment for young people. He highlighted the crucial role of the private sector in promoting Egyptian sports.Dr. Ashraf Sobhy stressed the importance of private sector participation in propelling sports to achieve sustainable development goals and improve the services offered to young people.Sobhy added that the Ministry of Youth and Sports aims to strengthen cooperation with the private sector by implementing necessary measures and facilitating their involvement, thereby contributing to the success of sports projects and Egypt's sports infrastructure. He also indicated that the ministry has signed various agreements with the private sector, with the goal of supporting sports programs and promoting sustainable development.Abdelrahman Gaweesh, Managing Director of Al Gaweesh Group and Larz Developments, noted, “Capitalizing on its diverse range of companies and projects, Al Gaweesh Group strives to contribute to comprehensive development plans within the framework of Egypt’s vision 2030. By joining forces with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, our goal is to propel Egyptian sports and youth forward while also supporting the state's efforts in sports investment. This collaboration complements Larz Developments’ strategy to discover athletic talents, sponsor athletes, and ultimately bolster Egypt's global presence in sports.”“Thanks to our unwavering commitment to delivering a wide range of top-notch solutions across different sectors, the group's clientele in Egypt encompasses numerous government entities and key players in the private sector. This allows Al Gaweesh Group to engage in various fields, including housing, infrastructure, transportation, healthcare, water projects, sewage, and power generation,” Gaweesh added. “At Larz Developments, our focus lies in the creation of integrated cities and communities, where we meticulously craft an array of outstanding commercial, residential, service, and entertainment projects. Through innovative approaches that cater to our clients' varied needs, we're shaping a unique community that redefines the concepts of luxury and quality.”Hand in hand with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Larz Developments offers official sponsorship to several prominent sports projects and programs. These initiatives encompass the National Talent and Olympic Sports Champion Project, the Sports Genomics Project that integrates cutting-edge genetic technologies for athlete assessment, prioritizing their well-being and health, the Youth Football League project, and the African Union's Project for university sports in partnership with multiple universities.Founded in 1982, Al Gaweesh Group serves as the parent company for a diverse set of subsidiaries engaged in various industries, including construction and real estate development. With a track record of successfully implementing major projects, Al Gaweesh Group has undertaken notable ventures in Egypt, Dubai, KSA, and the UK, with ambitions to further extend its footprint in the MENA region.

Westcon-Comstor makes key promotion to drive partner growth across ME and Africa

Westcon-Comstor, a global technology provider and specialist distributor, today announced the creation of a new role to drive the growth of its Comstor line of business across the Middle East and Africa.Dubai-based Renton D’Souza, a key leader with Westcon-Comstor for the past 16 years, will take on the role of Vice President for Comstor Middle East and Africa (MEA), consolidating the Comstor go-to-market strategy and creating new growth opportunities for its partners across the region.With global revenue of US $3.42 billion in FY23, Westcon-Comstor connects the world’s leading IT vendors with a channel of technology resellers, systems integrators and service providers.Comstor is the world’s largest Cisco-exclusive distributor and, within the MEA region, also works with affinity vendors, delivering a range of value-added services to its partners to enable them to accelerate their growth. “It’s a privilege to be stepping into this new role at such an exciting time for Comstor and our partners,” said Renton. “My aim is to ensure that more of our partners across the region experience the benefits of our vendors’ cross-architecture solutions wrapped in Comstor’s award-winning channel services and support offerings.”“Renton is a fantastic professional and leader who knows the Comstor business inside out,” said Rakesh Parbhoo, Senior Vice President, Middle East and Africa, and Global CTO at Westcon-Comstor. “In his new role he will enable us to grow market share and build even deeper relationships with our strategic vendors, as well as identifying further opportunities for expansion in key markets. I have every confidence he will be a huge success.”

Singapore Tourism Board Teams Up with Svami for a Sip of Singapore in Cocktails

Singapore's diverse culinary landscape seamlessly blends tradition and innovation, making it one of the most sought-after F&B destinations in the world. Spanning street food stalls, Michelin-starred restaurants, inventive fusion cuisines, and unique cocktail experiences, Singapore’s multifaceted F&B scene makes it a paradise for food lovers. Over the past year, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has been giving Indian audiences a slice of the island city’s gastronomical delights through a series called ‘Taste Obsession’. As a recent addition to this series, STB has partnered with Svami, one of the first brands and early innovators in Indian mixers and non-alcoholic beverage brands, to introduce an exclusive Pandan-flavoured tonic.Driven by his passion for mixology, Svami’s co-founder, Aneesh Bhasin, travelled to the vibrant island city to explore what makes Singapore the ultimate F&B destination. Seeking inspiration, he indulged in the varied tasting notes and textures of Singapore’s dynamic cocktail culture and explored award-winning establishments like ATLAS, Sago House, Nutmeg & Clove, and The Elephant Room. It was in this process that he was introduced to the sweet aromatic flavour of pandan, which blends perfectly with any cocktail or mocktail, inspiring the idea of pandan-flavoured tonic water.Commenting on the launch, Aneesh said, "New-age Indian consumers are creative, curious, and also well-aware, as most of them travel across the world. They have evolved palettes and seek high-quality cocktail experiences, whether during a night out, experimenting at home, or while travelling to a whole new destination. Catering to the modern-day audience, the idea behind the Pandan tonic was to introduce an exciting flavour profile that goes well with cocktails and mocktails, enhancing the taste. The unique essence of pandan, combined with Gondhoraj, the king of Indian limes, creates a beverage that is unique and aromatic, capturing a glimpse of my ‘Taste Obsession’ journey in Singapore. We are delighted to partner with STB to collectively bring an elevated drinking experience and hope to inspire consumers to visit Singapore soon.”Speaking further on this collaboration under the ‘Taste Obsession’ series, Renjie Wong, Area Director, India, Middle East, and South Asia, Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said, “Our 'Taste Obsession' series brings Singapore’s vibrant culture to India through partnerships with iconic Indian lifestyle brands and tastemakers like Svami. We want to share Singapore's love for culinary diversity by bringing the richness of Singaporean flavours to India. We look forward to the flavour of pandan resonating in India, connecting our countries through the joy of discovering new and extraordinary things. As Indian travellers' appetite for gastronomic exploration grows, we hope this ‘Taste Obsession’ series gives consumers across India a slice of our culinary delights and inspires them to enjoy our destination’s diverse lifestyle offerings afresh.”

Anghami Studios celebrates 200% YoY growth in branded content & music production

Anghami Inc. (NASDAQ: ANGH), the leading music and entertainment audio platform in the MENA region, continues to reshape the world of audio experiences through Anghami Studios, an in-house production arm that integrates the power of sound with brand strategies. This dynamic division has played a vital role in developing a remarkable approach that brought over 50 brand stories to life in 2023 and solidified Anghami’s position as the go-to destination for music and entertainment solutions.Since its launch, Anghami Studios’ mission has been to curate original music, podcast production, and sessions featuring exceptional talents. It has experienced remarkable growth in recent years and now contributes significantly to the commercial department’s revenue, achieving a 200% YoY increase. This achievement can be attributed to Anghami’s strong relationships with talents and production expertise, enabling the creation of top-tier content while maintaining cost efficiency.The journey began during the COVID-19 pandemic when Anghami observed a rising demand for branded content. The team promptly opened its production capabilities to brands, bringing Anghami Studios to life. The first project, a song for PepsiCo, conveyed a powerful message during Ramadan at a time when people were still social-distancing and quarantining, creating a lasting impact through the power of music. Anghami Studios offers a diverse range of products, including songs, podcasts, sonic branding, and live gigs, highlighting their versatility and setting them apart in a highly competitive media landscape characterized by pricing constraints. Leveraging the vast data available on Anghami’s platform, the production unit succeeded in creating unique and compelling content, positioning Anghami as an industry leader. Proudly collaborating with top global brands like PepsiCo, PUBG Mobile, L’Oréal, and Unilever, they maintain 40% of returning customers who consistently align with their brand’s DNA and hero content through ongoing communication.Branded content allows brands to build campaigns around a hero piece of content while passing on the brand’s DNA to the public. A standout example of this in 2023 is Net-A-Porter’s podcast “Game Changers,” currently in its second season. This podcast showcases interviews with accomplished women in the region and skillfully incorporates the brand into the content, all within Net-A-Porter’s ownership.Ramy Al-Kadhi, Head of Commercial at Anghami, emphasizes the critical role of innovation in driving revenue growth: “Innovation is key to the growth of our commercial revenues. While media remains a pillar, leveraging our production expertise has allowed us to establish an entirely new revenue stream, one that resonates with our brand’s identity. This significant growth is a testament to our reputation and the wonderful relationships we’ve built with multiple clients.”“Our success is rooted in our commitment to quality and creativity at Anghami,” added Kamil Abi Khalil, Head of Production at Anghami. “We’re dedicated to empowering brands with a compelling voice, enabling them to connect with their audiences through captivating content that lingers in memory. We believe in inspiring brands and shaping enduring audio identities that resonate with consumers. Surpassing 25 brands and 55 songs, our journey fills us with immense pride for how far we’ve come.”In the ever-evolving landscape of music and production, Anghami Studios is transforming the scene with its unique and powerful medium for storytelling. The continuous growth and commitment to innovation set by Anghami is set to redefine the industry, inspiring audiences worldwide.

Hadi Medawar appointed as Director of Sales & Marketing of JW Marriott Hotel

JW Marriott Hotel Muscat is delighted to announce the appointment of Hadi Medawar as Director of Sales & Marketing for the brand’s flagship hotel in Oman, which reopened its doors on Sunday 15 October. Medawar brings with him 15 years of diverse hospitality and academic experience in sales and marketing roles, event management and revenue management, with past involvement with pre-opening projects. He adds his leadership, passion, and commitment to quality and service to the JW Marriott Hotel Muscat team, where he will be able to continue to thrive thanks to his strong educational background and industry expertise.Originally from Lebanon, Medawar holds a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism management, a Master's degree in International Events Management from the Ecole de Management in France and is currently studying for his PhD in tourism from Lebanese University in Beirut. He was also an integral part of the InterContinental Hotels Group team, previously working in a sales and marketing role.

VUZ and LALIGA signs a 3-year partnership

VUZ, the leading immersive social app, that allows users to stream and experience immersive behind the scenes content in 360°, partners with LALIGA, the premier Spanish football league and the largest football ecosystem in the world, to serve as the exclusive official immersive content partner of LALIGA in the MENA region for the next 3 years, offering fans an unparalleled and interactive football experience like never before.The partnership is set to engage football fans with an endless immersive content on VUZ platform to experience LALIGA in an entirely new dimension."We are absolutely thrilled to join forces with LALIGA and embark on this exciting journey of innovation and immersion," said Khaled Zaatarah, Founder and CEO of VUZ. "Our mission has always been to transform how people connect with their passions, and through this partnership, we are poised to elevate the LaLiga experience for football fans."Through this collaboration, VUZ will create and curate immersive content that spans virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and other interactive formats. Football enthusiasts will be able to interact with fellow fans in virtual spaces, transcending the boundaries of traditional fandom.Maite Ventura, Managing Director - Middle East and North Africa at LALIGA, commented ¨: The MENA audience has shown remarkable growth as LALIGA´s fastest-expanding fan base. The region's fervent football passion has been our driving force for years, as we tirelessly strive to bring our leagues closer to these dedicated fans. Now, in partnership with Vuz, we are elevating the fan experience to unprecedented levels, allowing all our supporters to immerse themselves in the league like never before. This partnership demonstrates LALIGA’s objective of reaching new and broader audiences while looking for innovative ways to engage with fans in the region. It is another example of LALIGA’s continued search for meaningful digital experiences with our fans.”The VUZ immersive social app won the Tech Company of the Year Award by Tech Entrepreneur Awards and has raised over $30 million since inception backed by investors such as e& Capital, Caruso Ventures, Dubai Future District Fund, SRMG, and many others. The immersive media platform will leverage its partners’ infrastructure to expand into countries globally.VUZ, which was known previously as 360VUZ, bridges the gap between the physical and virtual worlds to offer the biggest premium immersive content library in the world with more than 30,000 hours of content and with over 1.7 billion views covering entertainment, creators and sports segments, and XR, VR, and AR experiences from virtually anywhere in the world.The GSM Association posted its Mobile Internet Connectivity Report for 2023, revealing 55% of the world's population, about 4.3 billion people, now own smartphones. According to its data, mobile internet users are 4.6 billion, with 4 billion of them accessing the services via smartphones. Football is considered by far the most popular sport in the continent, while research also shows that the number of gamers in the MENA-3 region is projected to be 67.4 million in 2022 and will grow to 87.3 million in 2026, with a nearly 6% average annual growth rate over 5 years. This indicates that ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) will increase over time.With VUZ's technological prowess and LaLiga's footballing legacy, this collaboration promises to create a lasting impact on the way fans experience and celebrate the beautiful game.

Dubai Duty Free celebrates milestone 40 years of retailing service

Dubai Duty Free marked its milestone 40th anniversary today as it welcomed passengers travelling through Dubai International and Al Maktoum International airports with a special 25% discount on a wide range of merchandise for 24 hours.The anniversary discount for 24 hours saw a spending spree at the two airports as well as online and is sure to signal a good end to the year.Commenting on the success of 40th anniversary, Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO of Dubai Duty Free said: “The anniversary celebrations are a good way of saying thank you to our customers, our employees and our partners. I join our Chairman, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, in marking this special occasion and wish everyone a great end of year celebrations. 2023 has been a great year and this is a great ending for us.”The milestone anniversary also saw a series of celebrations in various locations over the past few days with the Dubai Duty Free executive team, led by Colm McLoughlin, marking the occasion in Terminal 2, Al Maktoum International Airport as well as its Head Office in Ramoul, Terminal 3 Concourse A, Hatta Border Shop and Terminal 1 Concourse D in Dubai International Airport.To mark the anniversary day itself (20th December), the Dubai Duty Free team kicked off the celebration at The Irish Village in Garhoud with the announcement of the winner of The Dubai Duty Free Shopping List radio promotion with Dubai 92 to win AED40,000 Dubai Duty Free Gift Card.Ms. Sophia Rasundra, an Indian national based in Dubai, was the sole winner of the Dhs40,000 DDF gift card, announced by the Dubai 92 FM Breakfast team of Jono and Nats. The promotion ran over the past 2 weeks and there was a total of 11 shortlisted participants who were invited to The Irish Village, along with their families for a special breakfast. The 10 runners-up did not walk away empty handed however, as they received consolation prizes of a Dubai Duty Free Gift Card for Dhs400 each to spend next time they travel.The celebration continued in Dubai International Airport when the Executive team, led by Colm McLoughlin, headed to Terminal 3’s Concourse C and Control Tower for a traditional cake cutting ceremony before proceeding to Concourse B for another celebration where they conducted the Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire and Finest Surprise draws.To get everyone in the Christmas spirit, prior to the cake cutting and draws, the Dubai Duty Free Nightingales choral group sang some Christmas carols to the delight of the staff and passengers.Two draws were conducted in the Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire promotion with Series 443 and 444 being drawn.Mr. Bishoj Pilavilthazha, a 36-year-old Indian national based in Dubai won a US$1 million in Millennium Millionaire Series 443 with ticket number 1074, which he purchased online on 5th December.A resident of Dubai for 11 years, Mr. Pilavilthazha shared the ticket cost with his nine other friends, who started participating in the Dubai Duty Free promotion in October after being a long time participant in a similar promotion without any luck.Mr. Pilavilthazha is a father of one and works as an accountant.“Thank you Dubai Duty Free! This win will collectively change our lives,” he said.Mr. Pilavilthazha who hails from Kerala is the 221st Indian national to have won US$1 million in the Millennium Millionaire promotion since in 1999 and Indian nationals are the biggest buyers of tickets.Joining Mr. Pilavilthazha as a fellow US dollar millionaire is Mr. Khaled Al Adib, a 47-year-old Syrian national based in Dubai who was also announced the winner of US$1 million in Millennium Millionaire Series 444 with ticket number 0076, which he purchased online on 2nd December.A regular participant in Dubai Duty Free's promotion for 10 years, Mr. Al Adib, is a father of two boys and owns a construction company in Abu Dhabi.“Thank you so much, Dubai Duty Free. I’m so happy and glad that I never lose hope that I will win one day in your promotion,” he said.When asked about his initial plan with his win, he said, “I will buy a new house in Dubai, travel and do some charity work."Mr. Al Adib is the 9th Syrian national to win the Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire promotion since its inception in 1999.Today's draw was conducted by Dubai Duty Free's Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, Colm McLoughlin, Salah Tahlak, Joint COO, Sinead El Sibai, SVP – Marketing, Dr. Bernard Creed, SVP – Finance, Mona Al Ali, SVP – Human Resources, Michael Schmidt, SVP – Retail, Sharon Beecham, SVP – Purchasing, Zayed Al Shebli, SVP - Loss Prevention and Corporate Security along with H.E. Major General Ali Atiq Bin Lahej, Director General - Department of Airports Security.Following the Millennium Millionaire, five luxury vehicle winners were also unveiled at the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise draw.Mr. Adinath Renjithnathan, a 13-year-old Indian national based in Kerala, India won a Bentley Bentayga V8 (Glacier White) car, with ticket number 0928 in the Finest Surprise Series 1859, which he purchased on 15th November on his way to Thiruvananthapuram, India from Dubai.A first-time ticket buyer, Mr. Renjithnathan is a grade 8 student who persuaded his mom to purchase the ticket when he saw the car in Dubai Duty Free on their way back to India after celebrating his birthday in Dubai.“It has always been my dream to own a Bentley car. I’m grateful to Dubai Duty Free for this amazing win.,” he said.Mr. Muhannad Al-Qaddomi, a 43-year-old Jordanian national based in Dubai won a Mercedes Benz S500 (Diamond White) car, with ticket number 0257 in the Finest Surprise Series 1860, which he purchased online on 17th November.A resident of Dubai since 2010 and a regular participant in the Dubai Duty Free promotion, Mr. Al-Qaddomi is a father of three and works as management consultant for PwC in Abu Dhabi.Speaking on his way to board the plane back to Dubai, Mr. Al-Qaddomi said, “This is unbelievable! I’m coming back to Dubai today with a brand new car waiting for me. Thank you so much, Dubai Duty Free.”Mr. Prasanth Krishna Pillai, a 47-year-old Indian national based in Dubai won a Mercedes Benz G 63 (Obsidian Black) car, with ticket number 1688 in the Finest Surprise Series 1861, which he purchased on 30th November on his way to Thiruvananthapuram, India.Another first-time ticket buyer, Mr. Pillai, is a father of two and works as a manager for a car showroom in Ras Al Khor.“Thank you Dubai Duty Free. I cannot believe I won with my first ever ticket to your promotion,” he said.Mr. Basheer Ahamed, an Indian national based in the UAE won a BMW R 1250 GS (Black Storm Metallic) motorbike, with ticket number 0200 in the Finest Surprise Series 559, which he purchased online 27th November.Mr. Ahamed is currently uncontactable, but will no doubt be delighted to learn of his win.Lastly, Mr. Naveen D’Souza, an Indian national based in Sharjah won an Indian Chef Dark Horse (Sagebrush Smoke) motorbike, with ticket number 0263 in the Finest Surprise Series 560, which he purchased on 11th December on his way to Mangaluru, India from Dubai.Mr. D’Souza is also not available for immediate comment.Directly after the Millennium Millionaire and Finest Surprise draws, the team announced the winners in other Anniversary promotions including the DDF 40th Anniversary Shop & Win Gold, DDF 40th Anniversary Surprise and DDF 40th Anniversary Staff Surprise.In the "Shop & Win Gold" promotion, which ran for 4 weeks from 20th November to 17th December announced the last 40 winners of a special Dubai Duty Free 40th Anniversary 10-gram gold bar.While five names were announced in the last five series, 006 to 010, in the Dubai Duty Free 40th Anniversary Surprise. The online promotion offers 1000 ticket buyers, with tickets only AED 40, the chance to win a AEDD 40,000 Dubai Duty Free Gift Card in each series. The winners are Mr. Venkata Krishnan Modukuru Ramaiah (Indian), Mr. Zhen Li (Chinese), Ms. Mary Grace Luciano (Filipino), Mr. Amit Saraf (Indian), and Mr. Salu Alamittath (Indian). The two latter winners are both Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire winners in Series 348 and Series 365 in 2021, respectively.Lastly, with three winners of AED40,000 cash in the DDF 40th Anniversary Staff Surprise promotion.Thirty-seven Dubai Duty Free staff also enjoyed a special 'Staff Surprise' raffle draw with a total of Dhs 85,000 in cash prizes given away.

Revolutionary Bharat Mart Project to elevate Indian business presence in Dubai

The ambitious Bharat Mart project, envisioned as a sprawling retail hub for Indian enterprises in Dubai, is poised to potentially launch by 2025. Set to mirror the success of China's Dragon Mart in International City, this groundbreaking initiative aims to create a centralized platform for Indian exporters, offering a platform to showcase their diverse products.The project's significance is underscored by the joint commitment of India and the UAE to double their non-petroleum trade target to $100 billion by 2030, a milestone outlined in the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which took effect last year.According to a report by The Economic Times, although the project's concept is yet to be finalized, Bharat Mart is anticipated to span an expansive 100,000 square meters. It will feature an amalgamation of retail spaces, warehousing facilities, and hospitality units, as detailed by an unnamed official quoted in the report.Abdulla Al Hashmi, Chief Operating Officer of Parks and Zones at DP World GCC, expressed optimism about Bharat Mart becoming a pivotal distribution hub, supporting the global export endeavours of Indian-made products. He said that Bharat Mart is poised to become a mega-distribution hub to support the exports of made-in-India products to the world. He emphasized the strategic advantages for Indian companies eyeing expansion into Africa, Europe, and the US, foreseeing a significant reduction in both time and cost associated with shipping goods between India and these regions.Bharat Mart is envisioned to incorporate retail showrooms, warehouses, offices, and ancillary facilities designed to accommodate a diverse range of goods, spanning from perishable items to heavy machinery. In a forward-looking move, there are considerations for establishing a digital platform, facilitating global buyers in procuring goods seamlessly from the facility.This transformative project was initially unveiled in August 2022 as part of the UAE-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CEPA), which came into effect in May 2022. CEPA outlines a comprehensive roadmap for enhancing non-petroleum trade between the two nations to $100 billion by 2030.The impending launch of Bharat Mart marks a significant stride towards fortifying economic ties and fostering a dynamic business ecosystem between India and the UAE.

Google to pay $700M in antitrust settlement

Google has committed to a $700-million payment and facilitating increased competition within its Play app store, as outlined in the terms of an antitrust settlement with US states and consumers revealed in a San Francisco court.The tech giant will enable developers on its Play app store to provide direct payment options to users, addressing antitrust concerns in the ongoing regulatory scrutiny of the tech giant's practices.Google has been accused of suppressing competition to its Play Store on Android devices. The tech giant was also accused of overcharging customers through unnecessary fees for in-app transactions. The proposed settlement dictates that Google should contribute $630 million to a fund for consumers and $70 million to a fund for states, pending final legal approval. Eligible customers may receive a minimum of $2, with the possibility of additional payments based on their spending patterns on Google Play between August 2016 and September 2023.Google's Vice President of Government Affairs, Wilson White, said that this settlement builds on Android's choice and flexibility, maintains strong security protections and retains Google's ability to compete with other OS makers and invest in the Android ecosystem for users and developers.Criticism has mounted against Google for alleged abuse of competition practices and monopolistic behavior. This recent settlement addresses concerns specifically related to its app store, which has been subject to intense scrutiny. Notably, the Google Play Store, alongside Apple's App Store, is one of the primary marketplaces for mobile apps, and its fee structure has been a point of contention.

Human-like AI assistant Yasmina begins beta testing in Saudi Arabia

Yango has announced that it is now possible to sign up for the public beta testing of its human-like AI assistant Yasmina.The assistant is built and trained to understand various Arabic dialects and can respond in Khaleeji and English. Saudi residents are now welcome to enroll in the beta testing and be among the first to interact with Yasmina.Yasmina has a unique capability to engage in authentic, consistent, and enjoyable conversations, making interactions feel remarkably natural and relatable. Yasmina knows local jokes, recognizes whether the user is male or female, and puts on only age-appropriate content when interacting with children.Yasmina’s ability to maintain an engaging conversation is based on a large language model. Dozens of copywriters and hundreds of individual content contributors edited and perfected dialogs to fine-tune the model, allowing it to learn and grow into Yasmina’s unique Khaleeji personality.Hundreds of local residents from various locations across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam, took part in training Yasmina’s speech recognition, enabling the assistant to understand a wide variety of speech patterns, intonations, and dialects.On a more practical level, Yasmina works as a smart home center: you can ask Yasmina to adjust the room temperature, turn on the vacuum, or find a new recipe. More than just an app on your phone, Yasmina can be built into other apps and smart home devices, making them friendlier and easier to use, ultimately bringing new user experiences.Samer Mohamad, Yasmina Regional Director for MENA, Yango: “Our mission at Yango is to transform global technologies into everyday services for communities around the world. This is why we created an Arabic-speaking smart assistant that helps complete everyday chores more efficiently, fits perfectly in any GCC home, and can, among other things, inform users of prayer times. Right now, we’re fine-tuning Yasmina’s LLM to make the assistant even more fluent, creative, and emotionally intelligent.”

Exploring the future of ad-tech: A 2024 outlook

Authored By Sahil Chopra, Founder CEO, iCubesWireIf you've been closely following the dynamic tech scene in the Middle East, you're well aware of its continuous innovation. Brace yourselves, because 2024 is poised to be a pivotal year for the region's advertising technology (ad-tech) industry. Let's delve into the anticipated trends that are set to shape the landscape throughout the upcoming year.Programmatic Ads: An ever-evolving star of advertisingIn 2024, the spotlight is more on programmatic ads, a global trend that the Middle East is eagerly adopting. Picture this: automation, real-time bidding, and data-driven decision-making. Advertisers will precision-target specific audiences with customised content, reminiscent of precision ninjas operating at an unprecedented scale.The power duo of AI and Machine LearningArtificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are set to play a pivotal role in the ad-tech industry. By 2024, advertisers will harness these technologies for sniper-like precision targeting, optimising ad placements, and delivering personalised content that feels tailor-made. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are reshaping our interactions with ads, moving beyond mere algorithms.Video content takes center stageWhile binge-watching may seem like a global phenomenon, the Middle East's ad-tech scene is embracing video content. Platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and irresistible OTT services are taking centre stage. Prepare for immersive and interactive video ads to become the new norm, offering captivating content that resonates with audiences.The future of advertising with AR and VRAugmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are crashing the party, bringing mind-blowing experiences to the forefront. Advertisers are planning interactive encounters, allowing users to virtually try on sneakers and experiment with AR filters. The Middle East's innovative spirit is undergoing a high-tech makeover, revolutionising how brands connect with consumers.Privacy takes the leadIn alignment with global trends, the Middle East's ad-tech sector is prioritising privacy. By 2024, advertisers will adopt privacy-centric methods, responding to consumer demands for transparency and adhering to stricter regulations. Technologies like federated learning and differential privacy will be employed to strike the delicate balance between personalised ads and respecting user privacy.E-commerce integration in ad feedsShopping without leaving your favourite app is becoming a reality as advertisers integrate e-commerce into the ad-tech landscape. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are driving this trend, enabling users to make purchases directly through ads. Social commerce is on the rise, offering advertisers valuable insights into consumer shopping habits.Cultural sensitivity mattersIn 2024, diversity is celebrated, and advertising strategies are evolving to embrace the unique cultures and languages of the Middle East. Advertisers are prioritising cultural nuances in content, aiming to connect with audiences on a deeper level, regardless of their location.Partnerships and collaborationsSuccess in the ever-evolving world of ad-tech is a team effort. Advertisers, tech experts, and content creators are joining forces to create advertising magic. Cross-industry collaborations are the secret sauce for 2024, bringing together the best minds to deliver high-quality advertising solutions.Ads with a purpose: CSR and sustainabilityAdvertisers are championing sustainability, and 2024 will witness the rise of eco-friendly campaigns and purpose-driven ads. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming a central theme in advertising, contributing to positive change.Dynamic regulatory landscapeIn the fast-paced game of ad-tech, keeping an eye on regulations is crucial. The industry's dynamic nature suggests that the regulatory landscape will experience some changes. Advertisers need to stay nimble, adapting to shifts in consumer protection, data privacy, and digital advertising regulations to stay at the forefront.In 2024, the Middle East's ad-tech is set to redefine the way we experience advertising, blending cutting-edge technology, engaging content, and cultural relevance. It's not just about following trends; it's about navigating the future with style and innovation. It's time to get ready for an exciting ride in the realm of Ad Tech!

Memac Ogilvy announces new leadership for UAE operations

Memac Ogilvy’s new leadership appointment for its UAE operations reflects the company's commitment to promoting internal talent and strengthening its position in the marketing and communications industry. Hadi Ballout and Saad Abu Touq, both seasoned professionals within the company, have been promoted to jointly lead the UAE operations, the network's largest operation.Hadi Ballout, with his experience since 2016 at Memac Ogilvy, will now serve as the Managing Director for advertising. On the other hand, Saad Abu Touq, who has dedicated over 13 years to the company, will take on the role of Managing Director for PR. Together, they will oversee the network's business units, combining their skills and experiences.This move is seen as a positive impact on Memac Ogilvy's culture, work quality, and client relationships, showcasing the benefits of internal growth. Ghassan Maraqa, CEO of Memac Ogilvy, expressed pride in promoting these dynamic leaders from within the organization, emphasizing their strategic focus and long-lasting relationships with top clients.Hadi Ballout expressed his excitement about leading the advertising business to new heights, focusing on elevating creative offerings and delivering exceptional results. Saad Abu Touq, having spent over a decade with Memac Ogilvy, expressed honor in continuing to lead the PR business in the UAE and expanding his responsibilities to oversee the operations alongside Hadi.The joint leadership is expected to uphold the company's shared values and network cohesion as Memac Ogilvy enters a new growth phase, leveraging the leaders' 20 years of combined experience within the company across five markets.

MCN promotes Lara Arbid to CEO of Initiative MENAT and Magna Global MENAT

MCN (Middle East Communications Network) has announced that Lara Arbid takes up the reins as CEO of Initiative MENAT and Magna Global MENAT, following Bassem Massoud’s departure after 15 successful years with the network. Arbid joined MCN Riyadh in 2014 and was the first female General Manager of a media agency in Saudi Arabia, leading Magna KSA for several years before moving to Dubai and leading as Regional Managing Director at Initiative & Magna. “Given her solid background, passion, drive and deep expertise, I’m confident that Lara will thrive in her new role,” said Ghassan Harfouche, Group CEO of MCN. <img src='\1f4759dbc11b7fdbe408bf57b73083db.png' class='content_image'>Arbid says she is thrilled to be leading Initiative and Magna in the MENAT region. “I am passionate about our people, product and partners, and I really look forward to delivering success in 2024 and beyond."With Lara becoming CEO, Santadip Roy is taking on the role of Regional Managing Director at Magna Global. Santadip has been with MCN since 2018 and is a well-respected professional for his knowledge, expertise, and contributions to the business in his previous position as Regional Head Digital, Data & Technology and Business Solutions.

Salaam TV launches with a bang: A bold leap into the future of broadcasting

Salaam TV, the much-anticipated news channel, is set to make its mark in the news media landscape. With an extensive reach spanning South East Asia, India and Dubai markets, Salaam TV promises to redefine news broadcasting with its cutting-edge approach. This channel promises to bring captivating content that celebrates diversity, fosters understanding and embraces unity.Anchored by a stellar team and equipped with state-of-the-art studios, what sets Salaam TV apart is its unwavering commitment to delivering excellence in content, graphics and programming. The channel boasts innovative and insightful content that goes beyond the headlines, providing viewers with a comprehensive understanding of the news. The graphics are not just visually appealing but serve as a tool to enhance storytelling, making information more accessible and engaging. The programming is meticulously crafted to offer a seamless viewing experience, ensuring that each show flows seamlessly into the next.The dawn of Salaam TV heralds a new era in broadcasting, commencing each day with the informative 'Subah Ki Pehli Khabar,' setting the stage for well-informed mornings. Following suit, 'Morning Mubarak' provides a refreshing start, while 'Raah-e-Nijat' engages viewers with insightful discussions. Swift updates are delivered through 'Salaam Speed News,' complemented by the health-focused 'Hakeem Akbar Kausar.' For the Dubai audience, 'Khaleej News' takes center stage and 'Atiya Herbs' imparts valuable insights into herbal wellness. Interestingly, ‘Khabar Gulzar Hai’ also celebrates uplifting stories, spotlighting positive news to inspire and foster hope in viewers.As the sun sets, Salaam TV's evening line-up captivates audiences with the likes of 'Shaam Se Pehle' delivering the evening bulletin and 'News Panorama' presenting global updates. Engaging debates become the highlight with 'Badi Bahes,' providing platforms for thought-provoking discussions. The night concludes on a melodic note with 'Sadabahar Naghme,' and '11th Hour - The Last Bulletin' ensures viewers remain informed before bidding adieu to the day.Speaking on the vision of the news channel, Tarique Faridy , Editior Salaam TV said, “Salaam TV is where each story isn't just recounted but lived, a place where narratives unfold, discussions spark and enlightenment takes centre stage. It transcends the conventional boundaries of a typical news channel; it is a vibrant platform for exploration, meaningful discussion and intellectual enlightenment. In every show, we aspire to create an immersive experience that goes beyond the mere conveyance of information. Stay tuned for thought-provoking shows, engaging stories and a platform that promotes nationalism and harmony.”Salaam TV emerges as a comprehensive source of news, entertainment and insightful discussions, catering to a diverse audience.

Marjan welcomes third Hilton property on Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Marjan Island

Marjan, the master developer of freehold properties in Ras Al Khaimah, has announced an iconic new landmark backed by Hilton on Al Marjan Island, one of the Northern Emirate’s premium tourism, business and investment destinations. The project, consisting of a 5-star hotel and exclusive branded residences, will be built by M Hospitality on the upscale Al Marjan Island.This is the third Hilton property to be brought to Al Marjan Island by M Hospitality, which has delivered successful projects including the world’s largest Hampton by Hilton.The new project comprises 410 keys, encompassing 350 hotel rooms and 60 exclusive residences. It will showcase the highest 360-degree sky pool in the Northern Emirates, an executive lounge, a convention centre, and three F&B outlets, along with recreational facilities. Designed by the award-winning architectural firm JT+Partners, this Hilton-operated hotel, backed by half a million-dirham investment, is expected to elevate hospitality standards in Ras Al Khaimah.Arch. Abdulla Al Abdouli, Chief Executive Officer, Marjan, said: “The latest Hilton property will usher in a new era of luxury living on Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Marjan Island as the enduring appeal of waterfront living continues to attract local, regional and global investors to our flagship development. The new property reinforces Ras Al Khaimah’s growing stature as a leading international tourism, business and investment destination and is a testament to Al Marjan Island’s reputation as an exceptional living space for both homeowners and investors who are raising the bar in the hospitality sector. We are confident that M Hospitality’s latest Hilton-backed property will significantly elevate the lifestyles of our discerning clientele.”Mohammed Ruqait, Chairman of M Hospitality, said: “We are honoured to unveil our latest venture—a 5-star hotel and branded residences on Ras Al Khaimah’s iconic Al Marjan Island. This project reflects our commitment to redefining luxury living, offering an extraordinary hospitality experience. Teaming up with the prestigious Hilton brand signifies the third milestone in our journey, and we are excited to contribute to the cultural and economic landscape of Ras Al Khaimah.”He added: “We are designing an exceptional development that will be an example of excellence on Al Marjan Island. Together with the strategic location and our commitment to sustainability, our goal is to exceed the highest standards of hospitality in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah."Through this project, we promise to provide the best design through which we pledged to create a design that will be an example of excellence on Al Marjan Island. The meticulous design, strategic location and commitment to sustainability underscore our goal of exceeding the highest standards of hospitality in Ras Al Khaimah.”The latest hospitality project on Al Marjan Island further enhances Ras Al Khaimah’s appeal as a leading international tourism, business and investment destination. With this new development, M Hospitality aims to surpass Ras Al Khaimah’s gold standards in hospitality by offering an unparalleled upscale living experience for luxury enthusiasts and property buyers seeking exclusive experiences. Due for completion by the fourth quarter of 2026, the project will enrich Ras Al Khaimah’s cultural and economic landscape

Landvault appoints Muhammad Hamza as VP of Business GCC

Landvault, a leading metaverse-tech company, has announced the appointment of Muhammad Hamza as the Vice President of Business GCC. Based in Dubai, Muhammad's extensive expertise in artificial intelligence, metaverse technologies, and virtual development will further drive Landvault's business strategy and oversee its international expansion in the GCC region. Hamza’s career trajectory includes holding various positions across prestigious entities such as Emirates & Dnata Group, Wafi Group, and Dubai World, and is highly regarded for his success in driving digital transformation. As the Co-Founder of Masary Capital, he has played a pivotal role in shaping strategic partnerships with global technology and blockchain companies, while empowering regional organisations and venture capitalists to embrace AI.Landvault has built over 100 million square feet in virtual experiences for brands including Mastercard, Standard Chartered, Hershey, and more. As immersive experiences and artificial intelligence continue to reshape industries, Landvault stands at the forefront of driving technological advancements in the GCC region. The company expanded to the UAE earlier in 2023 and is heavily investing in the region, already building virtual worlds for real estate companies and some prominent entities, amongst other projects which will be revealed in Q1 2024 - contributing to the UAE's ambitious ‘Strategy for Artificial Intelligence’ and the ‘Dubai Metaverse Strategy’. These initiatives aim to elevate government performance, foster innovation, and position the UAE as a global leader in these transformative fields. “We are pleased to welcome Muhammad Hamza to the leadership team and look forward to capitalising on the momentum the GCC region has to pave the way in terms of new technologies, specifically immersive experiences powered by AI” said Samuel Huber, CEO of Landvault.Muhammad Hamza added: "I have consistently sought out opportunities with forward-thinking organizations that redefine industry standards. In line with Dubai's visionary approach to becoming a center for Metaverse and Blockchain technology, Landvault is strategically positioned to emerge as a trailblazing platform provider. Backed by the trust of leading global brands and energized by a dynamic international team, I am deeply convinced of Landvault’s substantial potential. Our collective objective is to craft a compelling vision for the GCC region, and I am eagerly anticipating the challenge of guiding Landvault to the forefront as the premier Metaverse provider in the area."Apart from his extensive experience, Muhammad is currently pursuing an MSC in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science from the University of Birmingham Dubai, further solidifying his position at the forefront of academic and industry advancements.

Calabrio opens Middle East cloud with AI-powered interaction analytics

Calabrio, a longstanding leader in Workforce Management (WFM) solutions in the Middle East, marks a significant milestone in its commitment to the region by introducing AI-Powered Interaction Analytics on a public cloud infrastructure within the region. This offering is intricately designed to cater to the specific requirements of Middle East contact centers, incorporating local language support, Arabic call transcriptions, and a dedicated public-cloud instance in the UAE.Following the acquisition of Teleopti in 2019, Calabrio solidified its position as the leading WFM provider in the Middle East. The company has consistently prioritized the understanding and adaptation of regional needs. This dedication transcends mere language support, encompassing a holistic approach to address unique challenges and deliver a seamless, culturally sensitive experience for users.With the unveiling of AI-Powered Interaction Analytics, Calabrio takes a bold stride to empower Middle East contact centers with advanced analytics tools driven by artificial intelligence. Notably, several Middle East customers have already embraced Calabrio’s cloud solutions from other regions. The addition of a local public cloud instance in the UAE reinforces compliance with data sovereignty and privacy regulations, offering a secure and reliable platform for regional customers.Key features of Interaction Analytics for the Middle East include:1. Arabic Transcriptions: Calabrio’s Interaction Analytics provides precise transcriptions of calls in Arabic, enabling contact centers to leverage a comprehensive set of AI-driven analytics tools for actionable insights from customer interactions.2. Middle East Cloud: By establishing a public cloud instance in the UAE, Calabrio ensures that customer data is hosted locally. This addresses the demands of data sovereignty and privacy regulations in the Middle East while retaining the benefits of a true-cloud solution, such as scalability, security, and continuous AI-driven software improvements.3. Advanced AI-Powered Insights: Contact center customers in the Middle East can now harness cutting-edge AI technologies to coach agents for improved performance and gain a deeper understanding of customer interactions. They can identify intricate patterns in interaction data, analyze competitors' strategies, and extract valuable AI-driven insights into customer sentiments.Calabrio’s Interaction Analytics for the Middle East is set to be generally available immediately after Ramadan, starting April 9. This strategic timing aligns with the region's business calendar, enabling organizations to seamlessly integrate this powerful AI-driven tool into their operations."Calabrio takes pride in extending its leadership in the Middle East with the introduction of Interaction Analytics," said Olle Düring, SVP Calabrio International at Calabrio. "We believe that by providing local language support and a local Middle East cloud, we can empower contact centers in the region with the advanced tools they need to enhance agent performance, understand complex customer behaviors, and ultimately drive business success."