BPG launches new digital platforms coinciding with Saudi HQ launch

Dubai: Award-winning, integrated agency BPG (Bates PanGulf, part of WPP) has launched brand-new digital platforms that reflect its ‘Customer Experience first, Integrated by Intent’ positioning and growing regional footprint. The launch coincides with the opening of BPG Arabia, the agency’s new headquarters in Riyadh, to strengthen services for a growing roster of clients in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Avi Bhojani, Group CEO, BPG, said: “Delivering exceptional customer experiences is table stakes for today’s successful businesses. And in a world powered by digital experiences, a brand’s digital assets are meant to give an almost physical experience. That's why we're incredibly excited to unveil BPG’s new platforms to coincide with the opening of our new Riyadh office. Dynamic, interactive, and user-friendly, BPG’s new digital platforms offer seamless access to information, resources, and engagement opportunities. We built them to be a living, breathing extension of Brand BPG, reflecting our culture, values and vision. As we embark on an exciting new chapter in the Kingdom, we're confident that our enhanced digital presence will forge stronger connections and sustainable success. For TeamBPG, it’s onwards and upwards."Valli Lakshmanan, President, BPG Arabia and Chief CX Officer, BPG added: “BPG Arabia is another milestone on the BPG 3.0 journey. We look forward to becoming the leading partner for homegrown Saudi brands, propelling them to greater heights aligned with the goals of Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s ambitious roadmap to achieve greater economic diversification, growth and prosperity for all. The new BPG digital platforms, with designs reflective of the times we live in, will foster conversations we have with our clients and community. Bolstered by over four decades of experience in the region, we are here to create meaningful and memorable brand experiences for Saudi businesses.”The new BPG website showcases the full spectrum of the agency’s capabilities - from data-driven marketing strategies that tap into dynamic audiences, to AI-powered personalization that creates truly individualized brand interactions. The agency’s expertise delivering MarComms for a multitude of sectors – from retail and real estate to logistics and finance has been showcased, along with its burgeoning client portfolio of global leaders and regional success stories.BPG is hosting a two-day ‘Integrated by Intent’ workshop later this week to equip its teams with the knowledge and skills necessary for a holistic, CX-powered approach to MarComms. Industry leaders such as Mariagrazia De Angelis, Managing Director at Landor & Fitch MENA, Sasan Saidi, CEO of Wunderman Thompson NYC, Sunil John, former President - Middle East and North Africa (MENA), ASDA’A BCW, and Ravi Rao, former CEO of GroupM MENA, will delve into topics such as human-centric marketing, media transformation and principles of great partnerships. The workshop aims to equip Team BPG with a robust "Integrated by Intent" toolkit, enabling seamless and impactful brand experiences for clients.

Sulin Sugathan on Royal Furniture's approach to Ramadan marketing

In our ongoing Ramadan series, Sulin Sugathan, Director of Retail at Royal Furniture, discusses how the brand tailors its marketing strategies and collections to resonate with the spirit and traditions of Ramadan in the Middle East.How are brands in the Middle East tailoring their marketing strategies/campaigns to resonate with the cultural nuances and significance of Ramadan?Brands in the Middle East tailor Ramadan marketing by emphasising cultural sensitivity, incorporating Islamic themes, and highlighting family values. Several brands look into the possibilities of charitable initiatives, such as Iftar/Suhoor specials, curating a special collection that resonates with the occasion in terms of design and aesthetics, and organising digital campaigns to engage the community. Unique Ramadan-themed products, influencer collaborations, and strategic timing are priorities.Can you discuss specific examples of how you incorporate traditional Ramadan elements into your exclusive collections or marketing campaigns?At Royal Furniture, we specialise in larger furniture such as sofas, dining sets, and beds. However, during Ramadan, we craft a unique collection featuring themed decor and furniture designs tailored to the spirit of the occasion.Our newest Ramadan Collection is inspired by the diverse cultural heritage and longstanding traditions associated with the holy month. Thus, every design in our collection is infused with elements that mirror the splendour and importance of this unique period, ranging from elaborate patterns reminiscent of traditional Islamic art to a colour scheme featuring shades of gold, and white that echo the essence of the occasion. Our aim is to provide customers with more than just furniture; we offer pieces that embody the spirit of Ramadan, fostering an ambience of warmth, hospitality, and reverence in their homes.To enhance our reach, we're launching engaging social media campaigns in collaboration with local influencers who embody the essence of Ramadan. These influencers will showcase our Ramadan collection, sharing personal experiences and insights.In what ways are brands leveraging social media influencers and digital platforms to connect with consumers during Ramadan while maintaining authenticity and respect for the occasion?Brands harness social media influencers during Ramadan by selecting individuals who align with the occasion's values. Influencers authentically integrate Ramadan themes into their content, showcasing brand products within the context of cultural traditions. Digital platforms serve as a medium for interactive campaigns, fostering community engagement through challenges and user-generated content.Brands prioritise authenticity, ensuring that influencers resonate with the target audience and embody the spirit of Ramadan. Collaborations focus on subtle product integration, emphasising quality over promotion. This approach allows brands to connect genuinely with consumers, respecting the significance of Ramadan and contributing to a positive and culturally sensitive online environment.What challenges do your brands face in balancing commercial objectives with the need to honour Ramadan's spiritual and cultural aspects, and how are they navigating these challenges?Balancing commercial objectives with Ramadan's spiritual aspects poses challenges in maintaining authenticity. Royal Furniture navigates by prioritising cultural sensitivity, emphasising meaningful connections over promotions.We carefully curate marketing content to align with our and the community’s values, ensuring it resonates with the spirit of Ramadan. People-centric campaigns are critical, allowing us to contribute positively while meeting commercial goals. This approach helps our brand authentically engage with consumers, fostering a connection beyond transactional interactions during this significant month.

Amazon Connect launches generative AI

Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an, Inc. company, has announced new generative AI capabilities in Amazon Connect, its cloud contact center service. The enhancements include the addition of Amazon Q in Connect, which provides agents with recommended responses and actions based on real-time customer questions; Amazon Connect Contact Lens, which adds AI-generated summaries of customer conversations for quality management purposes; Amazon Lex in Amazon Connect, which uses generative AI to make it easier to build effective self-service experiences for customers; and Amazon Connect Customer Profiles, which aggregates customer data from popular software-as-a-service applications. Customers using the service include Choice Hotels, NatWest Group, NeuraFlash, Traeger Grills and USAN.Generative AI offers an unprecedented opportunity for contact center leaders to redefine how they create and measure their customers’ experiences. Amazon Connect removes the challenges of building and deploying models in contact centers by allowing non-technical business leaders to set up a cloud contact center with generative AI capabilities within minutes.The new generative AI capabilities of Amazon Connect include:Amazon Q in Connect: Assists agents with recommended responses and actions for faster customer support. Amazon Q in Connect helps understand customer intents and uses relevant sources of information to deliver accurate responses and actions for the agent to communicate and resolve unique customer needs, all in real time.Amazon Connect Contact Lens: Generates concise customer contact summaries after each interaction to provide supervisors with context-rich details. Amazon Connect Contact Lens now generates concise customer contact summaries after each interaction to provide supervisors with those context-rich details.Amazon Lex in Amazon Connect: Simplifies bot building and creates improved self-service experiences. From the Amazon Lex administrator console, contact center administrators can create robust chatbots and IVRs by simply describing in natural language what they want the self-service system to accomplish.Amazon Connect Customer Profiles: Automatically creates unified customer profiles for personalized customer experiences. With just a few clicks, managers can review, make any necessary edits, and complete the setup of customer profiles so contact center teams can begin providing personalized customer service that improves customer satisfaction and agent productivity.“The contact center industry is poised to be fundamentally transformed by generative AI, offering customer service agents, contact center supervisors, and contact center administrators new ways to deliver personalized customer experiences even more effectively," said Pasquale DeMaio, vice president, Amazon Connect, AWS Applications.In addition to these new generative AI enhancements, Amazon Connect has extended omnichannel capabilities to include out-of-the-box support for two-way SMS messaging, as well as in-app and web voice calling with support for video. These new omnichannel communications—as well as the generative AI enhancements to Amazon Lex, Amazon Q in Connect, and Amazon Connect Customer profiles—are generally available. New generative AI capabilities in Amazon Connect Contact Lens are available in preview.

Qatar invests $1 billion in local startups through new VC fund

Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the country's sovereign wealth fund, is launching a $1-billion initiative to support local and regional startups through its first-ever Venture Capital (VC) Fund of Funds.This programme aims to:Boost innovation in Qatar: By investing in international and regional VC funds, focusing on tech sectors like fintech, edtech, and healthcare.Empower startups: QIA CEO Mansoor Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud explains, "This program ensures innovative businesses have access to capital and support from VC funds to scale and expand across Qatar, the GCC, and internationally."Bridge the funding gap: QIA fills the gap for startups that have passed seed funding and require Series A to C investments.While the programme primarily invests indirectly through VC funds, it can also make targeted co-investments. It emphasizes not investing in private equity, debt, or other funds.The initiative has two key objectives:Generate market-competitive returns: This aligns with QIA's mandate of securing long-term financial gains.Foster a thriving VC and startup ecosystem: This contributes to Qatar's National Development Strategy, aiming to increase local startups and VC funding availability.Overall, this $1 billion VC Fund of Funds signifies Qatar's commitment to fostering innovation and supporting the growth of promising startups in the region.Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Paola El Sitt to Emcee Arab Woman of the Year Awards at London Summit

 Dubai-based, Lebanese influencer and entrepreneur, Paola El Sitt, is set to host the prestigious Arab Woman of the Year Awards, along with the Arab Women’s Summit and Gala dinner in London, UK, for the second year, having previously hosted in 2022. With the award ceremony to be held on the 28th of February, El Sitt's role as host, introducing esteemed presenters from high profile figures to royalty from the British and Arab world, highlights her ambitious spirit and dedication to women empowerment.The Arab Women's Awards, an esteemed event that honors the accomplishments of Arab women from various fields, provides a platform for women to showcase their talent, leadership, and contribution to society, as well as strengthen ties between UK and the Middle East. This year's Arab Woman of the Year Awards will be held in conjunction with the inaugural Arab Women's Summit at the Royal Palace, marking a historic moment in the mission to empower Arab women globally. Organized by London Arabia, the summit aims to bridge the gap between the UK and the Arab world, bringing together over 300 luminaries from both regions.From February 27th to 29th, attendees will converge in London for a transformative experience at the British parliament and the palace of the British royal family, featuring lively panels, one-on-one interviews, interactive experiences, and cultural workshops. The summit promises to ignite new perspectives and foster meaningful connections among Arab and British guests alike.Paola El Sitt's involvement in hosting the Arab Woman of the Year Awards and the Arab Women's Summit epitomizes her commitment to uplifting women and driving positive change as a budding entrepreneur. Her influential presence in the Arab world qualifies her as an ideal candidate to host this momentous occasion, as she joins a powerful collection of voices dedicated to shaping a brighter future."I am thrilled and honored to be hosting the Arab Women's Awards in London," said Paola El Sitt. "This event is a celebration of the incredible achievements of Arab women around the world, and I am excited to be a part of it. I look forward to hosting an evening that recognizes and celebrates the achievements of these inspirational women"Her enduring influence and dedication to fostering positive change for nearly a decade makes her the perfect choice to lead this prestigious event for the second year, embodying the values of inclusivity, inspiration, and progress that resonate deeply with the organization's goals.

Ruder Finn expands global footprint with acquisition of UAE-based Atteline

Ruder Finn, a global communications and creative agency, has acquired Atteline, a UAE-founded communications agency, headquartered in Dubai. This not only marks, Rider Finn’s entry into the Middle Eastern market but also showcases its strategic expansion plans in a region with growing importance in the global business landscape.Founded in 2016 by Sophie Simpson, Atteline’s focus on consumer, corporate, and digital communication services aligns well with Ruder Finn's portfolio, enabling the latter to broaden its offerings and cater to a diverse range of clients in the UAE and potentially beyond. Additionally, Atteline's established presence and expertise in the region provide Ruder Finn with a strong foothold to penetrate and navigate the Middle Eastern market effectively.Ruder Finn's recent initiatives such as RF Studio 53 and RF TechLab underscore its commitment to innovation and leveraging technology to enhance its services. The integration of these capabilities with Atteline's operations could lead to the development of cutting-edge communication strategies tailored to meet the evolving needs of clients in the region.Sophie Simpson will be associated with Kathy Bloomgarden, Global CEO of Ruder Finn, and Atul Sharma, who leads Ruder Finn’s Middle East Region.Kathy Bloomgarden's recognition of the opportune moment for expansion following Ruder Finn's impressive revenue growth in 2023 reflects sound strategic leadership and vision. By carefully selecting Atteline as the acquisition target, Ruder Finn demonstrates its commitment to finding synergistic partnerships that drive mutual growth and success.

Food tech firm Sauce Capital hits over 1 million orders

Sauce Capital, an Abu Dhabi-based food tech company, hits over 1 million orders, following rapid expansion across UAE and Saudi Arabian markets and the launch of CHEW, its home-grown food delivery app. In the last two years, Sauce Capital’s portfolio has grown to nearly 20 kitchens, with over 40 unique food brands, leveraging data-driven insights and market trends to revolutionise the food and delivery industry.Sauce Capital's mission goes beyond food and kitchens. At its core, Sauce Capital represents a collective force, led by a team of passionate UAE natives committed to transforming at-home dining experiences. Established in 2020, the start-up’s founding team focused diligently on developing a strategic roadmap for the delivery of its future operations. Their innovative strategy merges exploration and tradition, introducing global culinary delights to the region with a unique local twist.Laying the groundwork included conducting extensive research into market trends and use of data-driven insights to produce customised tech solutions and innovative verticals. The company accelerated its operations from theory to reality by launching its flagship kitchen just over two years ago, producing its first 10 food concepts, and focusing on delivering high quality food and streamlined processes.Since then, their portfolio has grown rapidly to nearly 20 kitchens and over 40 food concepts, with notable brands such Chic Flic, voted 'Best Fried Chicken Delivery' in 2023 by Deliveroo, and Eggbun which became a leader in the 'Breakfast and Brunch' category. These successes show Sauce Capital's commitment to great dining experiences in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia.Delivering on Sauce Capital's mission to lead the way in food technology and deliver a product which offers unparalleled dining experiences, growth continued with the launch CHEW, Sauce Capital’s food marketplace and delivery app. A major milestone for the company, the app offers 360-degree capabilities, including fully integrated kitchen inventory systems for stock and production oversight, and their own unique double-layer geo-fencing technology, made to enable their 'Mix&Match' feature. This allows customers to order from different restaurants in one go, with just one delivery person and a single delivery charge.CHEW by Sauce Capital delivers a wide range of culinary delights to its users, offering unique dining experiences with its customizable mix and match feature and an incentivizing loyalty program. Customers can choose from various options, including Eggbun's famous Brioche Buns, buwagyu's Wagyu Truffle Beef Burger, and Laffa's flavorful BBQ Brisket.With a business model built for the end-to-end culinary journey, a continually evolving portfolio of kitchens, creation of unique food concepts and development of its fully integrated app, the company has proven capacity and potential for scale and designed a strategy which leverages growth, opportunity and innovation.Sauce Capital’s success of surpassing 1 million orders in just over two years sends promising signals for continued and sustained growth, bolstered by the UAE’s position as fertile ground for start-ups in tech and innovation. Staying true to the mission of delivering excellence in innovation and technology in the food and delivery space, the start-up has transformed into the self-sustaining, dynamic, expansive, and robust ecosystem that Sauce Capital is today.

Memac Ogilvy appoints Mario Morby as Chief Strategy Officer

Memac Ogilvy, the leading award-winning integrated creative network, has appointed planning and strategy specialist Mario Morby as Chief Strategy Officer, MENA. The move aims to strengthen the company’s position as a modern marketing and communications powerhouse, in line with its philosophy of “Borderless Creativity”.Morby said: “Ogilvy is a groundbreaking agency, where creativity is part of the DNA. However, it also ranked as the Most Effective Agency Network in the world on last year’s Effie Index. My role is to ensure that effectiveness is embedded in the culture of the agency, making our work as impactful as possible, and to ensure our strategies embrace the cultural changes and new technology that is available to us, such as AI.”Ogilvy’s Borderless Creativity philosophy brings together people from diverse backgrounds, experiences, cultures, and ways of thinking to find innovative solutions to a common problem. Morby added: “When we say borderless, we mean creative excellence achieved through seamless collaboration. In a region with so much diversity and so many cultural movements taking place, I’m excited to have the power of borderless creativity to hand, helping me connect brands to people.” Morby has been based in the region for over five years, working in strategy leadership positions with FP7 McCann. This builds on his distinguished experience in strategy and planning in his native UK. His rigorous, effective, and creative strategies have garnered industry recognition and awards including Loeries, Cannes Lions, Epica, Dubai Lynx, MENA Effies, AME, WARC Effectiveness, WARC MENA and WARC Media.Jon Marchant, Group President MENA at Memac Ogilvy, said: “We are thrilled that Mario has joined us to continue raising the levels of our strategic and creative product and guiding the agency in future technology uptake.  He has an award-winning track record in building strategy departments that uncover powerful local insights, true effectiveness, and original creativity. His ability to create impact and foster collaboration at all levels makes him the embodiment of borderless creativity.”Morby’s appointment reaffirms the agency’s commitment and ambition to maintaining its position as the region’s number one creative partner for cultural, social, and economic growth.

electriclime, Kerzner International unveil new film showcasing One Za’abeel

A stunning new film by British director Hopi Allard, a collaboration between production company electriclime° and Kerzner International, showcases the breathtaking grandeur of Dubai's iconic One Za'abeel.The film captures the breathtaking visual spectacle of One Za’abeel, showcasing its monumental presence in the Dubai skyline.One Za’abeel stands out as a multifaceted destination, featuring One&Only’s inaugural urban resort, the pioneering SIRO fitness and recovery hotel, and the record-breaking cantilever, The Link. The Link, an architectural marvel suspended 100 meters above the city, symbolizes the project's futuristic vision and innovation.The film highlights the immersive culinary experiences crafted by Michelin-starred chefs, the vibrant nightlife offerings, and the luxurious hospitality services, all of which contribute to making One Za’abeel the ultimate destination for discerning global citizens seeking transformative wellness experiences.The project's fashion aesthetic and architectural focus are underscored by the sound design, which enhances the viewer's immersive journey by emphasizing the movements and structural elements of the building.

Yachting tops Dubai residents' bucket list

Yachting has topped UAE resident’s bucket list, according to the inaugural UAE Experience Survey by Shamal Holding. The study conducted by YouGov, which surveyed 1014 people across the emirates, saw Yacht Trips (52%) beat traditional bucket list experiences as the nation’s most sought-after activity, surpassing skydiving (44%) and hot air ballooning or helicopter rides (44%). The growing appetite for yacht experiences correlates with the development of the UAE as a premier yachting destination, reinforced by year-round sunshine, unique coastline and luxury marinas. Whilst adrenaline-inducing pursuits have traditionally driven bucket list preferences for many years, recent interest in maritime activities show a growing demand for experiences that can be enjoyed as a group and provide collective memories. This is supported by the insights from the UAE Experience Survey, which highlighted that 1 in 2 residents are seeking diverse experiences that are memorable. The research also shows that residents are keen to explore the natural landscape of the UAE, with 53% of them choosing to spend weekends at the beach and 44% preferring to spend time in nature. Within the sample surveyed, 87% of people also agreed that the nation offers a wide range of experiences. “Experiences have been fundamental to the growth of the UAE as the chosen home for more than 200 nationalities who look to our multidimensional landscape to maximise their leisure time. As a diversified investment firm with a wide range of leisure, entertainment and hospitality experiences within our extraordinary portfolio, we have seen consumer preferences evolve in recent years as a response to major global events. Consumers are still looking for enriching and transformative experiences since the pandemic, but now, they are looking for ones that are easily accessible and can provide repeat memories with loved ones. Yachting provides the perfect platform for people to connect with their surroundings and with one another, while the lure of the open water offers moments of introspection and restoration,” said Abdulla Binhabtoor, Chief Portfolio Management Officer, Shamal Holding.  “At Dubai Harbour for instance, we have seen an increased interest from residents for commercial yachting charters, showing the potential to sustain growth domestically through a variety of experiences. In the coming months, we believe more people will integrate maritime destinations as part of their lifestyle choices as they seek greater connections with the sea”, continued Binhabtoor. As the owning company of some of Dubai’s most unique and iconic leisure and entertainment destinations, Shamal Holding continues to invest in the extraordinary across all its leisure assets including Kite Beach, XPark, XDubai, Skydive Dubai and Dubai Harbour.

Dream Dubai unveils cash campaigns for shoppers

Dream Dubai, led by the Government of Dubai – DFRE, has launched three captivating campaigns aimed at turning aspirations into unforgettable experiences through an innovative shopping experience.Leading the charge is a AED500,000 cash campaign that shoppers can enter into by spending just AED50. This initiative mirrors Dubai's dynamic essence, offering up a chance to win a significant cash prize through an act as routine as shopping.On the topic of Dubai’s essence, nothing is more significant to living the Dubai dream than driving a G-wagon, except perhaps driving a Suzuki Jimny – affectionately dubbed the ‘Baby G’ – fitted with an AMG G63 Brabus 800 kit in China Blue. That’s exactly what Dream Dubai is offering its shoppers the chance to win for just AED25.For the adventure-seekers, those craving a different kind of thrill, there’s the chance to experience the magic of the Arabian desert from a whole new perspective – by floating 4,000 feet in the air. For just AED20, one lucky winner will a Private Hot Air Balloon Ride, promising the chance to create lifelong memories.Participating in these campaigns is effortless. Users must simply download the user-friendly Dream Dubai app, complete the registration process, and purchase 'Modesh' shopping cards, redeemable instantly at the 'Modesh' online or physical store on the latest chic clothing collections for men, women and children. These shopping cards serve as a means to enter the campaign of choice, with each purchase amplifying the chances of winning.

HostBooks onboards Sajit Roy as Platinum Partner, part of Middle East expansion

HostBooks, a business automation solution provider with a global presence in six countries, has appointed Sajit Roy as a Platinum Partner for their ambitious expansion plans in the UAE. His extensive experience in business development, sales, marketing, and client relations, especially in the UAE, will play a pivotal role in establishing a stronger hold in the Middle East for HostBooks.Sajit Roy's career has been marked by dedication, resourcefulness, and remarkable achievements. As the Sales & Operations Manager at Matrix Technologies Trading LLC, he successfully promoted ERP software products and services in the UAE. His proactive approach and leadership skills led to the maintenance of existing accounts and the addition of a new client base. Sajit's role at FACT Software Middle East FZ LLC as a Sales Manager showcased his ability to manage existing accounts, develop a new client base, and coordinate effectively with international R&D teams.His tenure at ePROMIS Solutions LLC as a Regional Sales Manager demonstrated his capability to define and implement strategies for market share enhancement and the successful setup of solution partners in multiple countries, including the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, KSA, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.Sajit Roy's accomplishments at Wings Infonet FZE include the development of a network of business partners and resellers across the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, and South Africa. He played a key role in representing the organization at prestigious IT exhibitions such as GITEX Dubai and COMEX in Muscat, Oman.Sajit's success is also highlighted by his efforts in setting up a business partner in Darussalam, Tanzania, and acquiring over 500 new customers in the Middle East market through a network of channel partners.Dr Rathnaraj Livingston, Chief Business Officer (HORECA) of HostBooks, expressed his enthusiasm about Sajit Roy joining as a partner, stating, "At HostBooks, our vision is to provide cutting-edge solutions to enterprises globally. Sajit Roy's appointment aligns seamlessly with our commitment to delivering innovative business automation solutions. His wealth of experience in the UAE market and his impressive track record makes him an invaluable addition to our team. We look forward to achieving new heights together and providing unparalleled services to businesses in the Middle East."With Sajit Roy on board, HostBooks is all set for an exciting journey of growth, innovation, and unparalleled success in the UAE market.

Multiply Group Fully Acquires BackLite Media; Strengthens its Media Portfolio

In a strategic move to expand its footprint in the burgeoning Out-of-home (OOH) advertising space, Multiply Group (ADX: MULTIPLY), the Abu Dhabi-based holding company, has acquired 100% of BackLite Media, a premier Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) advertising company with assets in landmark locations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and revenues of AED 232 million in 2023. The deal encompasses all operating entities of BackLite Media and is a key step in Multiply Group’s broader strategy to enhance and consolidate its Media vertical. With a portfolio that comprises 86% digital and 14% static advertising solutions, BackLite Media has established itself as one of the leading media companies in the UAE. Through notable partnerships, such as with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), BackLite Media has secured prime advertising locations including The Landmark Series along the iconic Sheikh Zayed Road, as well as in high-profile malls, destinations, and cinema advertising venues like The Galleria Mall, Al Qana, Dubai Festival City, and more.  The extensive reach positions BackLite Media as a pivotal force in the UAE’s media landscape.  This acquisition seamlessly complements Multiply Group’s existing portfolio, which includes Media 247 and Viola Communications, and underscores the Group’s dedication to investing in profitable enterprises and creating synergies. The Group’s strategic pivot into DOOH advertising aligns with market trends and future growth opportunities. Samia Bouazza, Group CEO and Managing Director of Multiply Group, commented: “The full acquisition of BackLite Media is another strategic milestone in our journey to build an integrated multi-brand media powerhouse. This expansion underpins our commitment to driving shareholder value by creating long-term growth and further strengthening Multiply Media’s valuation as we continue readying the vertical for its eventual listing.” Bengt Bendeus, Founder and Chairman of BackLite Media, noted: “We are pleased for the acquisition by Multiply Group, reflecting on the journey of BackLite from its founding in 1996 to becoming a key player in the UAE's outdoor advertising sector. This success reflects persistent innovation, determination, and strong leadership from Dubai, RTA and Dubai Municipality. The acquisition marks a significant milestone, expected to enrich the business and advance the advertising landscape in the UAE and beyond.” Jawad Hassan, Head of the Media and Communications vertical at Multiply Group, stated: “OOH advertising has evolved rapidly in the last few years in the UAE with a CAGR of 16% between 2020 to 2023, and BackLite has been at the very forefront, capitalizing on this growth. We believe that this acquisition will unlock immense value for Multiply Media as we continue consolidating premium media assets across the OOH sector. With BackLite’s robust market presence, prime locations, and exceptional team, together; we will deliver innovative and impactful advertising solutions in the UAE and beyond.”                        Muhannad Al Ashram, Executive Director of BackLite Media, said "With the acquisition of BackLite Media by Multiply Group, we are witnessing a strategic alignment that is key to shaping the future of digital out-of-home advertising,"  James Bicknell, CEO of BackLite Media, added, “This impending partnership with Multiply Group opens a new chapter for BackLite Media. We are thrilled to expand our capabilities and continue to lead in the DOOH advertising space with enhanced reach and resources.” Earlier this year, BackLite Media partnered with multiple Programmatic platforms including Place Exchange, AdForm, Hivestack, Vistar and Google DV360 to accelerate the programmatic transformation of DOOH in the UAE, providing increased opportunities for DOOH to be included in omnichannel marketing strategies. The acquisition is poised to transform the DOOH industry, introducing innovative and impactful advertising solutions in the UAE and beyond.

Resonating with Ramadan: Thomas Gateff on culturally-sensitive branding

Today marks the launch of an engaging series on AdGully Middle East: exclusive Ramadan-related interviews with industry stakeholders as we approach the auspicious occasion of Ramadan.In today’s interview, we have Thomas Gateff, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at M2L Concepts, who discusses how brands in the Middle East are tailoring their marketing strategies to resonate with the cultural nuances and significance of Ramadan. Gateff emphasizes the importance of authenticity and respect in engaging with consumers during this sacred time, highlighting examples from M2L Concepts' Ramadan District Season 2. He also explores how brands are leveraging digital platforms while maintaining cultural sensitivity and discusses the challenges of balancing commercial objectives with honoring the spiritual aspects of Ramadan.How are brands in the Middle East tailoring their marketing strategies/campaigns to resonate with the cultural nuances and significance of Ramadan?Brands are increasingly crafting their strategies and campaigns to align with the cultural nuances and significance of Ramadan, an occasion that embodies a multitude of values such as spirituality, community, familial bonds, and charitable giving. Understanding and respecting these elements is crucial for any business to genuinely connect with audiences on a deeper level during this sacred time.During this time, campaigns often revolve around themes such as family unity, community support, and acts of kindness. These narratives find expression through various channels, including markets like the Ramadan District Season 2, advertisements, and partnerships with community organisations.When engaging with consumers, businesses should place a priority on authenticity and respect for the occasion. Messages must be crafted to resonate with Ramadan's values without appearing opportunistic or insincere. Whether through experiential activations, digital campaigns, or markets, brands are increasingly recognising the importance of resonating with consumers in a meaningful and culturally sensitive manner.Can you discuss specific examples of how you are incorporating traditional elements of Ramadan into your exclusive services?In our Ramadan District Season 2, we're continuing to deepen our commitment to honouring the traditional elements of Ramadan while creating immersive and engaging experiences for communities and brands. One way we're doing this is through our meticulous curation of the market. We're focusing on authentic Middle Eastern design elements, carefully selecting décor that not only reflects the region's rich heritage but also creates an ambiance that resonates with the spirit of Ramadan. From intricate lanterns to vibrant textiles, every detail is thoughtfully chosen to transport visitors to the heart of Middle Eastern culture.Moreover, we're amplifying the cultural experience by featuring businesses specializing in traditional arts such as henna designs and calligraphy. These artisans not only showcase their skills but also provide visitors with the opportunity to engage firsthand with these timeless traditions. In addition to cultural immersion, we're ensuring that our events cater to families by offering a diverse range of activities suitable for all ages.Drawing from the success of our previous endeavours, such as the Ramadan Majlis, FIFA World Cup activities, and Winter District, which collectively attracted over 40,000 visitors, we're leveraging our expertise to provide immersive experiences, and create unforgettable moments that resonate with our audience long after Ramadan ends.In what ways are brands leveraging digital platforms to connect with consumers during Ramadan, while maintaining authenticity and respect for the occasion?Leveraging digital platforms allows brands to reach a wide audience while also providing opportunities for interactive and engaging content that reflects the spirit of Ramadan. Moreover, the UAE's digital landscape is highly advanced, with a 99% digital penetration rate and active internet usage, makes it an ideal environment for brands to connect with consumers. One key strategy is the use of social media to deliver tailored messages across different sectors like retail, leisure, hospitality, and cultural events. Additionally, brands have been using digital platforms to educate and engage consumers about Ramadan traditions. This not only helps in building brand loyalty but also promotes cultural understanding among consumers.What challenges do brands face in balancing commercial objectives with the need to honour the spiritual and cultural aspects of Ramadan, and how are they navigating these challenges?One of the primary hurdles is ensuring respect for the religious observance without appearing exploitative. Brands must avoid over-the-top sales tactics and instead focus on meaningful engagement that aligns with the spiritual aspects of the month. Understanding the cultural nuances of Ramadan is equally crucial. Thorough research and consultation with local experts can help brands craft marketing campaigns that are respectful and resonate with the target audience. Moreover, teaming up with local and regional businesses lends credibility to a brand's efforts and demonstrates a commitment to understanding and supporting the community's needs and values. Overall, successfully navigating the intersection of commercial objectives and cultural sensitivity requires a thoughtful and respectful approach that prioritises genuine engagement with the community.

Spotify unveils AUX, an in-house music advisory agency

In a move set to revolutionize brand marketing in the music industry, Spotify has launched AUX, its in-house music advisory agency tailored for brands. With a mission to enhance campaigns through music, AUX aims to connect brands with Spotify's vast ecosystem of over 600 million fans worldwide.Jeremy Erlich, Spotify's VP and Head of Music Content, expressed enthusiasm for AUX, stating, "Spotify is always looking for ways to leverage our music ecosystem to deepen the connections between artists, brands, and fans."Heading AUX is marketing veteran Jean-François Pathy, who brings a wealth of experience to the role. Pathy emphasized the agency's commitment to crafting unique marketing initiatives for brands, leveraging Spotify's music expertise and insights.AUX's inaugural partnership with Coca-Cola exemplifies its potential. The collaboration sees AUX facilitating a long-term partnership between Coca-Cola and Peggy Gou, the acclaimed Berlin-based producer-DJ-vocalist. This collaboration extends across various platforms, including live concerts, social media, and branded playlists, showcasing the power of music-driven campaigns.Joshua Burke, Global Head of Music & Culture Marketing at The Coca-Cola Company, hailed AUX as a groundbreaking initiative. He stated, "We are proud to be an early partner to AUX, which integrates Spotify’s expertise to enable authentic connections with music fans worldwide."Additionally, Coca-Cola's commitment to supporting emerging artists is further demonstrated through the launch of Coke Studio at Spotify LA, providing recording support and promotional opportunities for up-and-coming musicians.As brands increasingly recognize the value of music in their marketing endeavors, AUX emerges as a vital resource, poised to shape the future of music-driven campaigns and deepen connections between brands, artists, and fans on Spotify's platform.

PlanRadar Surpasses 50% Global Growth in 2023 Despite Challenging Landscape

PlanRadar announces remarkable global growth of more than 50% year-on-year in 2023, underlined by a ntinuing spirit of innovation and strategic entrepreneurship in the face of industry challenges and geopolitical turmoil.PlanRadar is a leading digital construction, real estate, and facilities management platform that since its founding in 2013, has fast established itself as one of the world’s leading PropTech companies. Its significant growth comes in the wake of the company’s substantial territorial expansion, workforce growth and R&D amplification over the past year after raising about $70m in its Series B funding round in 2022. Strong presence in European marketsPlanRadar’s growing footprint is in response to the huge global appetite for its technology and its continuing success in transforming an industry that historically has been reluctant to go digital. Europe, a primary market for PlanRadar, showcased a 50% revenue increase, despite reports of a projected decline in the construction industry. This growth is driven by consistently strong performances in DACH countries, Italy and exceptional growth in Great Britain. Also, Spain experienced a notable 90% customer growth, signaling a positive response to European sectoral instability. Successful expansion into MENA and APAC regionsThe MENA and APAC regions emerged as rising stars, in line with reports and forecasts of steady growth in both regions (MENA, APAC). PlanRadar has been present in these areas since 2022 with offices in Dubai, Singapore, and Sydney. The Asian expansion led to a doubling of PlanRadar’s client base in 2023, underscoring the market's potential and confirming the company's ambitions for the coming year. Group Co-CEO Ibrahim Imam states: “We are committed to deepening our roots within the regions we’ve expanded into. We see very dynamic economies, both established and emerging in these countries. As construction takes on a growing role in these countries’ growth, PlanRadar is committed to being a stable partner, on hand to help to drive their acceleration. 2024 promises to be a year filled with advances for the platform, with the launch of several AI features.” PlanRadar also reflects this positive trend within its overall employee growth, with over 150 new hires recorded during 2023. Strategic planning in the face of geopolitical instability The past few years have been marked by increasing instability, resulting in economic shockwaves. This has placed a growing strain on companies at both a domestic and international level, not least in the construction industry. As a matter of importance, PlanRadar works in partnership with customers to adapt to the volatile environment, supporting them to continue to thrive. Sander van de Rijdt, Group Co-CEO explains: “The nature of PlanRadar’s business model is such that we are constantly working with and encouraging our clients to future-proof their organizations. We have seen firsthand how companies that choose to keep on advancing and optimizing their processes, and technology investments are subsequently better prepared to confront the fallout of global economic shocks.”  Client-Centric InnovationsThe company’s continual focus on evolving industry demands and client satisfaction has pushed significant innovations in R&D and new product features.  In 2023, PlanRadar released its Document Management feature, giving customers the power to manage plans and documents centrally, with all updates tracked for full traceability. All document approvals and authorisations are handled in PlanRadar’s platform, instead of scattered across email and elsewhere, with robust versioning to keep all files organised. This new functionality helps users manage plans and documents from the very early planning phases of a project through to construction and into operations. Centralisation is a core feature of PlanRadar’s proposition and has proven to increase transparency, while cutting hours of process time allowing companies to focus on matters more important to them such as business growth and client service.  Feature enhancements: Along with ongoing improvements and new features, there were two key enhancements. The “Calendar view” was introduced for users to see tickets more accessibly. Users wanted to be able to align tickets with their own diaries. Where previously they could see the tickets on a list or a visual plan, having them detailed in a calendar helps greatly to incorporate tickets into their day-to-day planning. The “Schedule” functionality was refined further to help users’ project management needs allowing them to link project dependencies and see the complete critical path. Essentially, they get a clearer view of the full project and any and all potential bottlenecks and delays, and can better prepare any contingency plans.  All improvements are made with the aim to both simplify clients' lives, as well as to encourage them to use PlanRadar comprehensively across project phases.  Here’s how users have been actively using PlanRadar in 2023: ·      More than 8.5 million tickets created ·      More than 14 million images uploaded ·      More than 700,000 plans uploaded ·      Around 1.2 billion interactions ·      Around 28 terabytes of down- and uploaded storage per month  As a business that started in Vienna and has since grown into an organization which spans across the globe, PlanRadar continuously adapts its strategy and continuously innovates. And, despite global challenges, its success in 2023 has shown its ability to turn obstacles into opportunities to innovate and thrive.

Geidea solidifies leadership with three key appointments

Fintech player Geidea has inducted three industry leaders to its team in Saudi Arabia. The announcement reflects Geidea’s commitment to spearheading fintech innovation with seasoned talent and re-enforces the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as its core market.Abdulmalik AlSheikh, (pictured above), is appointed to the board of directors at Geidea in Saudi Arabia as an independent member. AlSheikh brings to Geidea more than 30 years of ground-breaking leadership experience in finance, technology, and innovation. He played an instrumental role in driving the development of the Saudi financial system, in particular the national payment ecosystem since established by the Saudi Central Bank. Moreover, he took an active role throughout his career in various working groups linked to the G20, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.Ziyad AlEisa is appointed to the Geidea board of directors in Saudi Arabia and as the CEO of Geidea in Saudi Arabia, one of the three markets where the company operates and assumes a leading position in both market share and innovative product offering. Mr ALEsia is a results-driven business leader with a forward-thinking approach demonstrated through a long track record working in various entities, such as the Saudi Central Bank, Alrajhi Bank, and the Saudi Investment Bank (SAIB). In earlier times, Mr AlEisa served as the CEO of Neoleap as well as the CEO of Bayan Credit Bureau, a Saudi Central Bank-regulated company offering integrated corporate credit reporting services in Saudi Arabia.Omar Yassine has been appointed as a senior advisor to the Executive Chairperson of the board of directors at Geidea. He has a wealth of professional experience at leading financial institutions in Saudi Arabia. He has developed a strong track record in digital transformation, strategy development, profit maximization, and business transformation. Most recently, Mr Yassine was the CEO of Digital Ventures and Payments at the Saudi National Bank (SNB), where he worked for more than 14 years, assuming various leadership roles, including Group Chief Digital Officer, Head of Retail Banking, and Head of the Remittance Division.Abdulla AlOthman, Founder and Executive Chairperson of Geidea, expressed his enthusiasm for the new appointments, saying, "Our roots in Saudi Arabia have always been a source of strength and inspiration, propelling us to lead innovation and disruption within the fintech sector. Welcoming Abdulmalik AlSheikh, Ziyad AlEisa, and Omar Yassine to Geidea marks a significant milestone in our journey. Their extensive experience and visionary leadership are perfectly aligned with our mission to revolutionize payment technology, making it more accessible, affordable, and intuitive for all clients. As we continue to expand our reach and impact, I am confident that their contributions will enable us to achieve unprecedented success, both in Saudi Arabia and internationally."

Zenith Middle East wins Reckitt media mandate for GCC

Reckitt, a multinational consumer goods giant, behind brands like Dettol, Durex, Harpic, Vanish, Finish has appointed Zenith Middle East as its media agency of record for the GCC region. Following a rigorous and competitive pitch process, Zenith ME will take the lead in executing a broad spectrum of media responsibilities, including media planning and buying, digital, and offline media strategies. “Zenith was chosen after a very robust competitive pitch framework. Proven expertise in areas such as digital, data & analytics, innovative capabilities and most importantly alignment with our brand values were some of the key criteria behind the selection. We are very excited with this new partnership and look forward to connecting with our consumers in a more engaging and impactful manner”, said Imran Yousuf – Marketing Director Health Middle East, Reckitt. Adding to that Agnes Sipos who is the Marketing Director Hygiene Middle East, Reckitt said “The innovative & dynamic approach to media planning will unlock unparalleled ways of bringing our brand strategies to life and delivering on our business objectives – new ways to reaching to our audiences and building meaningful and lifelong connections to our brands, we’ll have the possibility to test & learn even more and taking our industry standards to the next level. With this development Reckitt has consolidated a big chunk of its media and digital business with Publicis Groupe Middle East, demonstrating its expertise in strategic approach, consumer insights, and data analytics. The Groupe’s unique ‘Power of One’ model played a pivotal role in clinching this win, as it offers numerous benefits to brands by uniting all of the Groupe’s capabilities under one cohesive agency solution.Tony Wazen, CEO of Publicis Media Middle East stated “we are delighted to welcome Reckitt, the group that is behind a lot of legacy brands. At Publicis Media We understand the modern marketing challenges of clients and how to solve them and are excited to drive the growth transformation agenda across the Reckitt brands portfolio.” “We are excited to work with Reckitt steering our full spectrum of media, and digital capabilities and driving stronger consumer connects and powerful communications for its brands. We look forward to harnessing and mobilising the best talent, and capabilities from across the Groupe and helping Reckitt enhance its consumer strategy”, said Firas El Zein, CEO of Zenith Middle East.

Fawry cooperates with LA Market to empower local brands in Egypt

 As part of its efforts to foster growth and success for local brands in Egypt,"Fawry", the leading company in the field of banking technology and electronic payments signed a strategic cooperation agreement with "LA Market", an exhibition and conference management company.As the first choice in the electronic payments market, "Fawry" seeks to support women empowerment initiatives within the region, which not only strengthens the business but also landscape."Fawry", a company specializing in financial technology solutions, aims through this partnership to bring mutual benefits to both parties and contribute to the overall development of the market within the framework of its commitment to the Egyptian market by contributing to spreading the culture of digital transformation and digitization and providing multiple electronic services to all the various sectors of the country.Heba El-Awady, Chief Business Officer at Fawry, said: "The agreement highlights the bridging of international and local markets, demonstrating a commitment to creating a global impact while focusing on the specific needs of the Egyptian market."El-Awady added: "The agreement has a positive impact on the local community by creating opportunities for businesses to thrive, thereby contributing to economic growth."On the other side, Lydiaa Akram, founder and CEO of LA Market, confirmed that the cooperation helps to promote women's empowerment by incorporating specific initiatives or programs within the partnership.Akram said: “We are proud to be the ideal partner for "Fawry", the leading company in the field of banking technology and electronic payments".She added: "we hope to benefit from Fawry's sizeable experience and unique resources in the Egyptian market, and to combine the strengths of both companies to serve our customers better."

Headwinds: Edelman revenue dips, eyes growth despite challenges

Edelman, the world's largest PR firm, faced a mixed bag in 2023. While experiencing a slowdown in overall growth and a significant decline in US revenue, the company witnessed positive performances in other regions and expressed confidence in its future prospects.Global CEO Richard Edelman acknowledged the year's difficulties, describing it as "a difficult year for the industry." This sentiment resonates with the broader PR landscape, following a period of modest growth for some of Edelman's competitors. Despite experiencing a global revenue decline of 3.7% to $1.038 billion, Edelman managed to maintain its position as the industry leader.The decline was primarily driven by a 9.1% drop in US revenue, reaching $639 million in 2023. This drop contrasted with the positive performances seen in other regions like EMEA (up 7.1%) and LatAm (almost 30% growth). Specific offices within regions like Dallas/Houston, Miami, Belgium, and the Middle East also saw encouraging growth figures.While acknowledging the challenges, Edelman pointed to its strong relationships with top clients as a key differentiator. The company highlighted the stability of its top 30 clients and the 6% growth achieved by its top 100 clients, demonstrating consistent value proposition in client leadership.However, navigating the evolving business landscape required course correction. Edelman acknowledged "staffing up in 2022" as a mistake, leading to workforce reductions and a renewed focus on more efficient business management practices. The global headcount dropped to 6,116 from 6,433 in 2022, reflecting this strategic shift.Despite these challenges, Edelman has undergone significant leadership changes in 2023, including the appointment of a new US CEO and other key positions. Richard Edelman expressed his confidence in the new team's ability to regain growth momentum.Looking ahead to 2024, Edelman sees potential for renewed growth driven by several factors. The increased activity in the AI sector and upcoming elections around the world present opportunities for the company's expertise in navigating complex communication challenges. While the article omits specifics regarding China due to its focus on a positive outlook, it acknowledges continued challenges in the region.Overall, 2023 presented a mixed bag for Edelman. While facing headwinds in the US market and adapting to industry changes, the company witnessed growth in other regions and remains confident in its future, thanks to its strong client relationships, leadership changes, and a renewed focus on business management efficiency. As the PR landscape continues to evolve, Edelman will be keen to translate its global experience and expertise into sustainable growth in the years to come.

Egyptian civil service gets the first AI-based chatbot

The Central Agency for Organization and Administration (CAOA) has launched an Artificial Intelligence-based system named "KMT". KMT was developed to answer questions related to civil service legislation and the services provided by the Central Agency for Organization and Administration (CAOA) and provide accurate and documented information to civil servants and the public in general. CAOA developed "KMT" with the support of the USAID Economic Governance Activity. In support of Egyptian entrepreneurship, they selected an Egyptian startup company specializing in information technology to implement this project."KMT" is the first AI-based chatbot that operates within the Egyptian civil service. KMT is available around the clock, seven days a week, to answer more than 50,000 legal and administrative questions related to civil service legislation and executive regulations. KMT analyzes the questions and responds instantly through the official website of the CAOA or the WhatsApp and Facebook applications of the Agency.The support of the USAID Economic Governance Activity for the KMT Chatbot is part of the project's objectives to enhance the administrative and institutional development of the Egyptian civil service. The support is in line with the objectives of Egypt's Vision 2030, the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2023-2030, and Egypt’s Administrative Reform Vision.Shawn Jones, the Director of the Mission of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Egypt, commented on this event, saying, "The United States takes pride in its longstanding partnership with Egypt, and the extension of diplomatic relations and friendship for over a century. Today's launch of KMT is a model of what our strong partnership can achieve. KMT showcases some of the greatest promises of digital transformation in Egypt, including increased access to information and communication without barriers, and equipping its dedicated Civil Servants in all government entities with the knowledge they need. KMT was developed by the innovators at “Widebot”, an Egyptian start-up company, which represents an important element within the strong Egyptian-American partnership and the investment of the American people in Egyptian companies."The USAID Economic Governance Activity supports the efforts of the Egyptian government to improve the quality of public administration by adopting more inclusive and efficient tools that ensure the consideration of the needs and priorities of the citizens. These modern tools, such as KMT, help improve communication and interaction between the government and citizens, increase citizen satisfaction with government services, and enhance transparency and access to information.

Premier Padel announces groundbreaking strategic partnership with Red Bull

Premier Padel, the leading official professional padel tour worldwide, and Red Bull, today announced a new groundbreaking multi-year strategic partnership across media services & streaming, production and sponsorship until the end of the 2027 Premier Padel season.The new partnership between Premier Padel and Red Bull is the most significant broadcast, production and sponsorship agreement in the sport’s history. It will accelerate Premier Padel’s consumer offering and support the tour’s strategy of growing the sport with new audiences around the world via Red Bull’s world-class media and digital platform network across 130 countries.Live matches will be available on the free-of-charge platform Red Bull TV (TV and mobile app) in selected territories from the quarter-final stage through to the final of each tournament, bringing innovative new production capabilities to Premier Padel’s broadcast. The Premier Padel YouTube channel will continue to live stream matches from Rounds 1-3, free-to-air in selected territories.Red Bull will also create and stream new and engaging content for fans throughout the year on its digital and social platforms, which will complement the live coverage of all Premier Padel tournaments throughout the year and broaden the understanding of the sport across new audiences.The 2024 Premier Padel season will kick off on 26 February with the Riyadh Season P1, where fans will be able to watch the live matches on terrestrial TV networks, Premier Padel’s YouTube channel for rounds one to three, and on Red Bull TV from the quarter-finals through to the finals.The partnership will also see Red Bull become a main partner of the Premier Padel tour and will transform the on and off-court experience for both players and fans at Premier Padel tournaments throughout the year, through its Red Bull Athlete Zone and additional exciting activations.Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, Chairman of Premier Padel, said: “This is a transformational moment for Premier Padel and for the professional sport of padel – we are delighted to welcome Red Bull as our strategic partner. As one of the leading brands in world sport, entertainment and media, Red Bull will help drive our professional tour to the highest level, founded on amazing player and fan experiences, exciting digital innovations and global brand visibility. Red Bull’s investment also demonstrates the fantastic sporting and commercial potential of Premier Padel and the sport of padel generally. Premier Padel is on an incredibly exciting journey and we look forward to this next chapter of growth with Red Bull part of our family.” Marcus Weber, Global CMO Red Bull, said: “We are excited to be partnering with Premier Padel. Together, we will grow the sport and support the athletes, driving its progression and fan engagement. We are happy to offer this new and innovative discipline to new viewers and fans all around the world through a complementary content offering across our global media network.”The deal was brokered by Pitch International, an industry-leading full-service sports marketing agency based in London. More information on Premier Padel’s broadcast agreements for the 2024 Premier Padel season will be communicated ahead of the Riyadh Season Premier Padel P1, taking place from 26 February – 2 March.

Jeff Zucker-led RedBird IMI acquires All3Media for £1.15 billion

RedBird IMI, an investment group led by former CNN executive Jeff Zucker and backed by Emirati royal Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has acquired Britain's All3Media for 1.15 billion pounds ($1.45 billion).All3Media, known for producing hit TV shows like "Fleabag" and "Squid Game: The Challenge," was previously jointly owned by Warner Bros Discovery and Liberty Global since 2014, who bought the firm for 550 million pounds.This marks RedBird IMI's fifth acquisition and its largest deal to date.Jeff Zucker will become the chair of the All3Media board, while CEO Jane Turton and COO Sara Geater will continue to lead the company. The acquisition aligns with RedBird IMI's strategy of investing in global content creators and owners of intellectual property.All3Media's revenue for 2022 was approximately 1.02 billion pounds. The acquisition occurs during a period of broadcasters reducing spending on new shows due to advertising revenue declines and the aftermath of Hollywood writers' and actors' strikes from the previous year.

Dubai Corporate Games celebrates 17th year with record-breaking turnout

The Dubai Corporate Games returns for its 17th edition, promising the largest event to date with an impressive lineup of participants and activities.A total of 55 esteemed companies, including industry giants such as Google, Amazon, Chalhoub Group, and Nakheel, among others, have rallied over 7000 individuals for a two-day extravaganza of sports and camaraderie.Attendees will indulge in a diverse array of activities, spanning from classic favourites like football, tennis, and basketball to more unique offerings such as padel, dragon boat racing, and gaming competitions. Notably, the event boasts 68 football teams, engaging in a staggering 116 games, with a commendable representation of 5 women’s teams. Additionally, 48 men’s and ladies' basketball teams will vie for victory, alongside a remarkable 360 entries for padel enthusiasts.This year's event is generously supported by esteemed headline sponsors, including Transmed, Emirates Snack Food, IFFCO Group, and Oasis Water, underscoring the significance of corporate engagement and community spirit. Other notable sponsors include ITP, American Hospital Dubai, RECAPP, and Channel 4.The action-packed festivities will unfold on February 24th and 25th at ISD Dubai Sports City, commencing at 8 am and concluding at 9 pm. Spectators are warmly invited to join in the excitement and cheer on their favourite teams as they vie for glory in this celebration of athleticism and teamwork.

talabat launches 'The Hangout' at Al Safa Park

talabat, the region's leading online food delivery platform, has announced the launch of "The Hangout," a new series of community-focused events aimed at fostering connection and engagement in partnership with Dubai Public Parks. The inaugural edition kicks off at Al Safa Park, offering residents a unique opportunity to enjoy movie nights under the stars alongside a curated selection of food and beverage options.Entertainment for all ages:The Hangout features a diverse lineup of classic films suitable for families and individuals of all ages. From timeless favorites like "The Lion King" and "Finding Nemo" to action-packed adventures like "Top Gun: Maverick," the program caters to a broad spectrum of tastes and interests.Strategic partnerships drive experience:talabat promises to deliver a comprehensive and enjoyable experience for attendees. A dedicated popcorn kiosk will be stationed on-site, offering a delicious movie-going staple. Additionally, renowned restaurants like Zaatar W Zeit and Cinnabon will be present, providing attendees with a convenient selection of their most popular offerings.Community engagement:The Hangout runs every weekend from Saturday, February 24th to Saturday, March 9th, with two movie screenings each night at 6:30 PM and 8:00 PM. This extended schedule allows for maximum participation and fosters a sense of community through shared experiences.

ETIHAD adds three new 787-9 Dreamliners as it eyes ambitious growth

Etihad Airways is celebrating the arrival of three new Boeing 787-9 aircraft this weekend. The national airline of the UAE welcomed the latest additions to its expanding fleet at Abu Dhabi Zayed International Airport.The new aircraft will begin operations this month, helping Etihad to expand in line with its ambitious roadmap which will see it fly to 125 destinations with more than 160 aircraft by 2030. Antonoaldo Neves, Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Airways, said: “We are thrilled to welcome these brand-new, state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliners to Abu Dhabi. Their arrival is key to our network expansion strategy and comes at the perfect time as we continue to add multiple new destinations and expand frequencies into key markets.“These new aircraft support our commitment to Abu Dhabi, allowing us to bring more guests to experience the incredible capital of the UAE, either as their end destination or on a stopover when connecting across our expanding network.”The 787-9s will further bolster Etihad’s fleet as it launches additional destinations over the coming months. Etihad will begin flying to Boston, its fourth US gateway, on 31 March, and will add Nairobi and Bali to the network as well as summer routes to Nice, Malaga, Mykonos and Santorini.The arrival of the three new Dreamliners follows the new Boeing 787-10 received in October 2023, which added further capacity to support Etihad’s network expansion. The airline added new routes to Osaka, Copenhagen and Dusseldorf in quarter four of 2023, as well as Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram in the Kerala region of India on New Year’s Day.Etihad has also expanded across multiple markets with additional flight frequencies and improved connectivity across the network.Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners are up to 25% more fuel efficient than many comparable aircraft of their size. In total, Etihad now operates 43 Dreamliners and a total fleet of 88 aircraft including the Airbus A380, A350, A320 family, and Boeing 777. A remarkable flying experienceEtihad’s new 787 Dreamliner cabin interior offers a comfortable and spacious cabin environment in Etihad’s award-winning signature style. The two-class aircraft features a brand-new cabin interior with 32 Business Suites and 271 seats in Economy.The Business cabin features a unique and customised version of the Elements seat manufactured by Collins and Etihad is the first airline in the world to introduce this seat on the Boeing 787.The Business Suites provide guests with generous levels of space, comfort and privacy. Each seat has direct aisle access and reclines to a fully lie-flat-bed 78” in length boasting a 17.3” 4K TV screen, Bluetooth headphone pairing, wireless charging, and multiple charging ports, as well as plenty of storage.In Economy, the newest 787 offers lighter, and therefore more fuel-efficient, seats than the current fleet, with 217 standard seats and 54 Extra Legroom seats with four inches of additional legroom. As well as providing guests with exceptional comfort, the slimmer profile seats provide an increased feeling of space for every guest.The new 787 Dreamliner offers the latest in-flight entertainment technology from Safran with Rave Ultra 13.3” 4K touch-screen monitors and the option to pair personal phones and tablets to the screen to use as a remote.The aircraft is fitted with a new connectivity solution from Viasat using Ka-band technology which offers high-speed Wi-Fi with streaming capabilities on board as well as Live TV, including news and sport channels.Through Etihad’s Wi-Fly, all Etihad Guest members can enjoy complimentary chat packages, while all guests can choose to purchase a full Surf package with unlimited data for the duration of the flight.

Emirates revamps leadership team for future growth

Emirates Airline has announced a strategic reshuffle of its executive ranks, appointing two deputies to President Tim Clark and promoting 19 senior leaders, as the airline gears up for further expansion, according to reports. The new team, effective March 1st, 2024, features a diverse mix of eight UAE nationals and six women, reflecting Emirates' commitment to inclusivity and regional representation.The two key appointments see current Chief Operations Officer Adel Al Redha and Chief Commercial Officer Adnan Kazim taking on the additional role of Deputy Presidents. Both have been with Emirates for over 30 years, bringing extensive experience and leadership to the new positions."These changes strengthen our executive bench and support our ambitious growth plans for the next 15 years," said Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group. "They mark a significant step towards aligning our business and operations effectively to achieve our ambitious goals."The promotions also recognize the expertise and dedication of long-serving leaders across various departments. Notable appointments include Steve Allen becoming CEO of dnata, Michael Doersam assuming the Chief Financial and Group Services Officer role, and Boutros Boutros heading Marketing, Brand, and Corporate Communications.Overall, the revamped leadership team reflects Emirates' commitment to diversity, experience, and future-oriented growth. With a strong team in place, the airline appears well-positioned to navigate the dynamic aviation landscape and achieve its ambitious expansion plans over the next decade and a half.

Du appoints Jasim Al Awadi as the Chief ICT Officer

du, from Emirates Integrated Telecommunication Company (EITC), has appointed Jasim Al Awadhi to lead its ICT unit as the Chief ICT Officer. He will play an important role in supporting du’s customers on their digital transformation journeys by providing end-to-end solutions and services. Al Awadhi will also be responsible for the development of the right ICT solutions that will enable the UAE and its communities to thrive and prosper in the new digital economy. He will be working closely with the ICT team to drive the telco’s vision of becoming a more purpose-driven, performance-focused and customer centric organisation.Fahad Al Hassawi, CEO at du, said: "We are thrilled to have Jasim Al Awadhi leading our team as our CxO. With his extensive experience in ICT and proven track record of success within du, Jasim brings a wealth of knowledge and strategic vision to the table. His ability to execute major initiatives, drive operational excellence, and forge strong relationships with our valued clients makes him the ideal candidate for this role. We look forward to the impact he will undoubtedly make in driving du's growth and innovation in the UAE’s telecommunications industry."Al Awadhi possesses an extensive background in ICT with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Joining du in 2007, he has demonstrated his leadership capabilities through various senior roles within the company. Prior to assuming his current position as Chief (CxO), Mr. Al Awadhi excelled as the Senior Vice President - Service Operations, overseeing crucial operational functions. Additionally, he successfully led major, strategic projects for some of du’s most prominent clients as Head of Government & Key Accounts Segments, underscoring his strategic acumen and client-focused approach.

Pfizer unveils AI platform Charlie for pharma marketing

Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant, has unveiled "Charlie," a groundbreaking generative AI platform named after its founder. Charlie aims to streamline content creation, improve marketing effectiveness, and enhance regulatory compliance within the company.Charlie assists in creating, editing, fact-checking, and legally reviewing marketing materials, crucial in the highly regulated pharma industry. Integrating with media analytics, competitor insights, and various platforms, Charlie provides comprehensive marketing insights and actionability. Charlie analyzes data across therapeutic areas to understand customer needs and tailor messaging accordingly. Generating content variations and optimizing ad performance, Charlie promises significant cost savings and efficiency gains. Pfizer ensures data collection and use comply with internal and external regulations, prioritizing accuracy and privacy. Benefits:  • Faster content creation and approval: Charlie can expedite content creation and regulatory review, saving time and resources.   • Increased marketing effectiveness: Personalized content and insights can lead to more targeted and impactful campaigns.   • Improved regulatory compliance: Automated fact-checking and legal review reduce the risk of errors and non-compliance.   • Reduced costs: Efficient content creation and ad optimization can significantly lower marketing expenses. Industry implications:  • Generative AI adoption in pharma: Charlie showcases the potential of AI in transforming pharma marketing, potentially influencing other companies to follow suit.   • Ethical considerations: Ensuring data privacy, avoiding bias, and maintaining brand authenticity are crucial aspects to address in AI-generated marketing.   • Potential for broader applications: The technology behind Charlie could be adapted for other industries beyond pharma. Overall, Pfizer's "Charlie" represents a significant step forward in leveraging AI for marketing within the pharmaceutical industry. Its impact on content creation, regulatory compliance, and marketing effectiveness will be closely watched by the industry and could pave the way for wider adoption of AI in various sectors.

Galadari Automobiles launches first-ever ‘Mazda CX-60 & CX-90’ models in UAE

Galadari Automobiles Co. launched the highly anticipated first-ever MAZDA CX-60 and CX-90 models during the inaugural ceremony of the all-new Mazda Showroom on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, marking a momentous milestone in the 50-year partnership between Galadari Automobiles and Mazda Motor Corporation, Japan. This demonstrates the company’s commitment to excellence as well as successfully meeting customers’ needs, in line with the UAE’s vision to become a leading automotive hub.With meticulous precision, the first-ever Mazda CX-60 and CX-90 models have been built to embody automotive perfection, striking an ideal balance between performance and finesse. Both the CX-60 and CX-90 models are offered with a powerful and responsive 3.3L Inline-6 Turbocharged engine, combined with a 48V mild hybrid system. This combination delivers an output of 284 hp and 450 Nm of torque in the CX-60, as well as a peak output of 345 hp and an impressive 500 Nm of torque in the CX-90. Furthermore, the fuel efficiency of the CX-60 is 15.4 km/L while that of the CX-90 is 14.3 km/L, which in itself is best-in-class. These key specifications distinguish the two models within the automotive landscape in terms of power and efficiency.The all-new state-of-the-art showroom serves as a true reflection of the global brand identity of Mazda, a brand renowned for its sophisticated design and exhilarating performance. The showroom showcases an impressive line-up of the brand’s luxury vehicles with its spacious and minimalistic design. It further exemplifies Galadari Automobiles’ unwavering commitment to providing customers with a seamless and exceptional automotive experience.Mohammed Abdullatif Ibrahim Galadari, Co-Chairman and Group CEO of Galadari Brothers commented: “Galadari Automobiles Co. has played a pivotal role in the success of Galadari Brothers Group, holding a prominent position in the UAE’s automotive industry. With more than five decades of partnership with Mazda, the company has remained committed to consistently making the customer’s experience of owning a car as exciting, enjoyable, and value-added as possible. At Galadari Brothers, we seek to make a substantial contribution to the UAE’s vision and developmental journey. Our overarching objective is to become a key driving force in the country’s technological, economic, sustainable progress, in line with our relentless pursuit of innovation and excellence.”He added: “The inauguration of our all-new Mazda showroom on Sheikh Zayed Road symbolises our unrelenting commitment to excellence in the automotive industry. We are further pleased to launch the first-ever Mazda CX-60 and CX-90, which are the epitome of innovation, performance and style. Beyond presenting a fine selection of Mazda’s revolutionary new models, we have completely redesigned the showroom with state-of-the-art facilities, to enrich customer experiences. We look forward to working together with Mazda Corporation, to continue influencing the automotive industry in the years to come.”The UAE’s top-notch infrastructure and convenient roads offer an ideal environment for car owners to enjoy the vehicles’ luxe features, leading to a rising demand for comfort and opulent features among the population, coupled with a preference for upscale and luxury products. Galadari Automobiles Co. has strategically positioned itself at the forefront of innovation to effectively meet the demands of the UAE automotive market.Axel Dreyer, Chief Executive Officer at Galadari Automotive Group Co. Ltd. stated: “The exclusive launch of the first-ever Mazda CX-60 and CX-90 in UAE, together with the opening of our all-new showroom, exemplifies our commitment to delivering the best possible services and models to the country. We look forward to providing customers with an exceptional driving experience, and setting new standards in the premium vehicle segment, solidifying our position in the automotive industry.”The first-ever Mazda CX-60, positioned as a Sports Utility Vehicle, is a blend of luxury and elegance, with the capacity of 5 passengers, featuring an advanced face recognition technology that identifies the owner/driver of the vehicle and customises the car according to their tastes and preferences. It further entails numerous cutting-edge technologies, which are carefully designed to safeguard drivers and passengers.Furthermore, the first-ever Mazda CX-90 is a powerful three-row family luxury car that demonstrates a seamless blend of innovation and high-quality craftsmanship. Every single detail of the CX-90 model has been designed in unison, starting with the driver’s seat to the other parts of the vehicle. The model has been engineered to provide customers with the most immersive, performance-focused driving ever created in a three-row Mazda SUV, setting forth a front-engine, rear-biased, all-wheel-drive experience. In the UAE, the CX-90 is available in both 6-seater and 8-seater versions.Galadari Automobiles Co. has established itself as a leader in the UAE’s automotive sector for more than 50 years. The company has several showrooms across the UAE, boasting a workforce of over 500 professionals across 14 facilities, who ensure top-notch products and services. As the automotive sector continues to evolve rapidly, the automobile company is well-poised to effectively satisfy the demands and requirements of the market through its best-in-class services and products.

New Balance x Miu Miu drop 530 SL: A fusion of sport and style

The collaboration between New Balance and Miu Miu brings forth a fresh interpretation of the iconic New Balance 530 running shoe, now known as the 530 SL. This collaboration blends the performance-driven ethos of New Balance with the avant-garde fashion sensibilities of Miu Miu.The campaign featuring Peris Adolwi, Julie Hoomans, and Florine Wildeboer captures stolen moments against a backdrop of domesticity, inviting viewers to project their thoughts and dreams onto the serene setting of white walls, blank phone screens, and crumpled white sheets. The mood exudes intimacy, relaxation, and playfulness, echoing through movement, gesture, and attire.Originally launched in 1992 as a performance shoe, the New Balance 530 gained a cult following among sneaker lovers due to its minimal design and premium materials like suede, leather, and mesh. In line with Miu Miu's disruptive spirit, the 530 SL reimagines this classic silhouette with a deconstructed approach, introducing an ultra-flat sole and reinvented proportions while retaining its essence.The 530 SL comes in two versions: one featuring distressed suede in a warm, natural color palette, and the other combining unprocessed suede and mesh in classic black and white. Both versions exude a lived-in, aged aesthetic, offering laces in various materials such as leather and sailing cord for wearers to personalize according to their style preferences.Comfort, character, confidence, and ease are at the forefront of this collaboration, seamlessly blending the heart and history of both brands into a cohesive and stylish offering for sneaker enthusiasts.Campaign credits: Photography: Alessandro Furchino CapriaVideography: Lucca LutzkyStyling: Lotta Volkova

BTC Fashion partners with MarTech innovator WebEngage

BTC Fashion, the retail arm of the Business Trading Company (BTC) and the promoter of brands such as Matalan, Miniso, Superdry and Balabala in GCC and Levant regions, has partnered with MarTech company WebEngage to engage its vast customer base with personalized and exceptional experiences. The integration with WebEngage’s award-winning, patent-pending marketing technologies, which are powered by a customer data platform (CDP) and AI, will help BTC Fashion to understand its customers better and deeper and strike meaningful, personalized and contextualized conversations with them across offline and online channels. BTC Fashion’s robust omnichannel retail presence, including outlets across the region and its successful e-commerce arm bfab, is an ideal opportunity to deploy AI and automation and advance customer-centric retail outcomes. “As one of the largest investment firms in GCC, we represent some of the most inspirational global brands. Our aim is to provide unique and consistent experiences to each shopper whenever and wherever they engage with any of our brands. Partnering with WebEngage, we will be able to understand our customers better and fulfil their needs in a more personalized manner. WebEngage’s proven experience in transforming retention marketing for leading fashion and retail brands in the region is an added advantage,” said Hasit Kakkad, General Manager, BTC Fashion.BTC Fashion will integrate its back office, loyalty platform, data lake, and e-commerce channel with WebEngage’s Retention Operating System. That will help build unified customer profiles. The resulting “customer 360”, powered by deterministic AI, will help BTC Fashion’s marketing teams and product managers of all brands to optimize customer journeys across SMS, mobile, web, digital, paid media, WhatsApp, email, and offline. Based on shopper behaviours, purchases, psychography, and real-time intent, BTC Fashion will deliver personalized omnichannel experiences.  BTC Fashion’s partnership with WebEngage to deliver tailored experiences draws upon the broader consumer sentiment in the regional fashion retail industry. A recent study by Oliver Wyman revealed that GCC consumers’ expectations for tailored experiences are 30% higher than those of their global counterparts. Additionally, 87% of GCC customers are using both online and offline channels to shop. By driving omnichannel personalization, BTC Fashion is hoping to cater to such customers meaningfully and reinforce its position as a leading retailer in GCC and Levant. “We are so honoured to associate with a family group of BTC’s calibre. Since its inception, the group has played an integral role in the region’s socioeconomic transformation. We will deploy our latest innovations in generative AI, seamlessly integrate with all their systems, and empower their marketing teams to build 1:1 customer engagement. Our regional business managed services team will ensure we maximize the value of their customer data, boost marketing impressions, and improve CLTV,” said Hetarth Patel, Vice President - Middle East & Africa and Managing Director - UAE.

Starcom Middle East appoints Amir Antoun as Head of Levant

Starcom Middle East, a leading media agency under Publicis Groupe Middle East, has promoted Amir Antoun as the new Head of Starcom Levant, effective immediately. Having been an integral part of Starcom since 2007, Amir brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his new role. “Amir has been a phenomenal leader overseeing some of our key accounts in the Levant region. I am proud of the way he has maintained and grown our business. I am certain the team will benefit from the breadth of his expertise and dedication to delivering an outstanding client experience”, said Ramez Zeineddine, CEO, Starcom Middle East. Throughout his professional journey within Starcom, Amir has played a pivotal role in spearheading operations in Iraq and cultivating senior client relationships. He has collaborated with some of the top names in the industry including Asiacell, Samsung, VISA. As a strategic leader, he focuses on aligning products and services with market opportunities, while powering team-building and talent development. Transitioning into his new role as Head of Levant, Amir will now assume additional responsibilities, including overseeing the growth of clients in the region, meeting regional client requirements, and driving operational excellence and efficiency.Commenting on his appointment Amir said “I’m excited to take the helm for Starcom across Levant and I eagerly welcome the chance to guide our team to new heights of success. Returning to where it all started sixteen years ago holds special significance for me, underscoring Starcom’s commitment to fostering a culture of development and recognition. I am determined to channel our passion into achieving greater excellence together.”

Etihad heralds a new era for its loyalty programme

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is relaunching its award-winning Etihad Guest loyalty programme in June 2024, to make life even better for its members. The enriched programme couples rewards for members even more closely to their journeys, reflecting the airline’s desire to thank customers who choose Etihad. It also gives members even greater control over their experiences, enabling them to select different benefits to suit their travelling preferences, and sees the introduction of a new elite Diamond tier to reward the airline’s top flyers.  More rewarding  "We are excited to announce a new era for the Etihad Guest programme with the experience of being a valued member about to reach new heights," said Mark Potter, Managing Director of Etihad Guest.?“The enhancements renew our partnership with our Etihad Guest members around the globe, meaning the more time they invest with us through flying and through our lifestyle partners, the more rewarding and personalised their experiences become, so Guests can journey on their terms, not ours. “Today, we have revised the pricing for our GuestSeats and reduced the miles required for some of our most popular destinations in both Economy and Business classes to provide our members with more rewarding opportunities when booking flights. “Examples of GuestSeat price reductions include: Abu Dhabi to London in Economy Class down to 30,000 EYG Miles and taxes; Milan to Abu Dhabi in Economy Class down to 25,000 miles and taxes; Jeddah to Abu Dhabi in Business Class down to 20,000 miles and taxes; and Abu Dhabi to Istanbul in Economy Class down to 15,000 miles and taxes. “Members will earn the same amount of Tier Miles and Etihad Guest Miles on bookings made from June. Therefore, the higher fare brand they book, the more Tier Miles and Etihad Guest Miles they will earn. So, treating yourself to a little luxury will help you reach higher tiers and unlock exciting extra benefits in no time. “We are also further rewarding our Platinum Tier members, who will now enjoy 100 per cent Bonus Etihad Guest Miles when flying with us or any of our eligible airline partners, to bring their next rewards closer. “And we will be enabling Etihad Guest members to upgrade to The Residence, our luxury three-room suite in the sky, using their miles.”  Personalised privileges  Alongside their Core Benefits, tiered members will be able to select from a range of extra privileges to suit their lifestyle, making Etihad the first airline in the region to offer this flexibility. As they progress up the tiers, so does the range of benefits and options. In addition to their Core Benefits, Guests will be able to select from a range of fantastic Custom Benefits to be unveiled closer to the June launch date. Silver members will get a choice of two Custom benefits, Gold will get four and Platinum five. “And Etihad Guest is delighted to introduce a new elite tier, Diamond, recognising the airline’s top flyers with experiences that truly go beyond,” said Mark Potter. “Diamond and Platinum members will be able to choose their own, personalised membership numbers.” “We are also introducing Beyond Benefits for our Gold and Platinum members as they progress through their tiers. These benefits can be gifted to friends or family, and include rewards such as Silver or Gold tier status or lounge passes for them to relax in style before their flight, as well as Etihad Guest Bonus Miles.”  Making it easier “To move to a higher tier and unlock more benefits, Etihad Guest members will still need to earn a set number of Tier Miles, some of which must now be earned from flying,”?explains Mark. “We’ve simplified the way members reach their new tiers by removing Tier Segments, creating a simpler way for Guests to track their progress to the next level.” All Etihad Guest members will be able to earn and spend their miles on flights with the airline and more than 20 airline partners, which would extend the validity of their Etihad Guest Miles by 18 months. They will continue to collect miles when they fly and also with 150+ partners including restaurants, hotels, car hire and retailers. Etihad Guest Miles can continue to be redeemed for a wide range of rewards whether that be a free flight, a cabin upgrade, a special experience or one of 3,500 products in the Reward Shop.

Phillippa Kennedy joins Brazen MENA as Account Director

Phillippa Kennedy has joined the team at Brazen MENA as an Account Director from L’Oréal UK.In her new role, Phillippa will oversee some of the agency’s key clients, ensuring the excellent results the agency has become synonymous with. In addition, she will spearhead the luxury division, which has grown over the last few years with clients including Atlantis Royal, Signor Sassi and Veuve Clicquot.Phillippa, who has more than a decade in the PR industry, joins Brazen MENA from L’Oréal UK where her most recent work includes the launch of Prada Beauty, brand growth and PR for MUGLER, overseeing all social and press for Viktor & Rolf and previous PR work with Laura Mercier at Shiseido.A luxury brand expert, Phillippa has worked in PR on both global and local scales with companies such as YSL Beauty, Viktor and Rolf, Loewe and Maison Margiela.Alongside PR, her additional expertise is advocacy and influencer analytics, honing-in on social trends across Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, with knowledge on how to best utilise social platforms to enhance results, pivotal in an everchanging media landscape.Louise Jacobson, Managing Partner Brazen MENA comments: “As Brazen MENA strives to lead the GCC's lifestyle PR landscape, securing top-tier team members is paramount. The addition of Phillippa, a standout talent with a rich background in global luxury, fashion, and beauty brands, is a strategic move for us. This marks a pivotal moment as we enter a dynamic and promising phase, where Phillippa's expertise will play a key role in steering Brazen MENA further growth in the region.”Phillippa Kennedy added: “I am thrilled to be part of the leadership team at Brazen MENA to work on some incredible accounts and add value to our exceptional client roster. My commitment to maintaining high standards of work and crafting engaging brand concepts aligns seamlessly with the agency's vision, and I am confident that together, we will drive continued success.”

Cultural convergence: Khalid Al Ameri's content creation odyssey

In the realm of digital content creation, Khalid Al Ameri, an Emirati content creator and YouTuber, stands as a prominent figure, weaving together humour, cultural exploration, and relatable experiences that transcend borders. Over the years, Khalid has amassed a diverse global audience.In a recent interview with Adgully, Khalid Al Ameri delves into the intricacies of content creation, his unique approach to storytelling, highlighting the importance of experiencing its renowned street food and the impact he aspires to make on social media.Khalid opens up about his current visit to Mumbai, expressing eagerness to explore the vibrant city’s energy and, most notably, its diverse culinary landscape. His emphasis on experiencing the essence of Mumbai reflects his broader approach to content creation – finding common threads that connect people worldwide. Khalid shares, “I always look for opportunities to bridge gaps between communities. It is about focusing on the universal aspects of human experiences.”In response to showcasing Mumbai’s unique culture, Khalid shares his intent to explore the city’s renowned Bollywood culture and engage in local experiences. “I expect it to be very energetic. For us, a lot of times when we film, we film during the day, but in Mumbai, we want to experience the city in the evening and showcase various aspects,” he states. From trying a train ride to immersing in the bustling Bollywood hotspots, Khalid aims to capture the diverse essence of Mumbai.Reflecting on his travel experiences, Khalid highlights the significance of understanding and sharing stories from various perspectives. He mentions his phone-free exploration of Iceland. The warm welcome in Kerala during his first trip to India holds a special place, where he felt a profound connection with the Indian community in the UAE.Discussing challenges, Khalid recalls the complexity of producing a documentary in Sri Lanka, where time constraints and the desire to capture the nation’s essence presented hurdles. Overcoming challenges, he notes, requires finding motivation and a deeper purpose. In this case, the overwhelming support from the Sri Lankan people fueled the project, highlighting the power of connecting with a community’s aspirations.Khalid’s content is intentionally crafted to resonate with a diverse audience. Drawing inspiration from global figures like Mr Bean, he focuses on universally relatable situations. “I like to make content that everyone can relate to,” he shares, emphasising the importance of creating shareable content that transcends cultural boundaries.In the grand tapestry of content creation, Khalid strives to leave a lasting impact. “The message that I want to leave is that the world and people’s lives were better because of the work that we did,” he affirms. Khalid’s vision extends beyond entertainment, aiming to contribute positively to the lives of his audience.As we navigate the digital landscape, Khalid’s journey serves as an inspiration, reminding us of the power of storytelling and the potential for global connection through relatable, heartfelt content.Watch full conversation here:<div class="video-container"><iframe src="" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

Choithrams marks 50 years of goodness, ready for a golden run into the next 50

Community-favourite supermarket brand Choithrams announces the celebration of its golden jubilee anniversary in the UAE.In 2023, Choithrams opened 10 new stores in the UAE, solidifying its position as a leading supermarket chain in the region. Looking ahead, the company, which is currently exhibiting at Gulfood 2024, aims to continue its expansion with the ambitious goal of opening 5-6 stores annually both in the UAE and across the region.Choithrams opened its first outlet in the UAE exactly 50 years ago. The business traces its origin story in West Africa going back 80 years and was founded by Thakurdas Choithram Pagarani. Today, it is a household name in Dubai and a go-to destination for everyday needs.Lekhu Pagarani, the Chairman of Choithrams group and the son of the founder, says his father had a vision of not only growing the business, but also giving back to society. “In 1959, he created his first trust, the Choithrams Remembrance Trust, it set in motion a lifetime of philanthropic work transforming millions of lives. We are cognizant of the fact that none of this can be achieved alone, and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve. We thank the leadership of the UAE for the continued support and guidance, we thank our partners, stakeholders and customers for the trust – it gives us strength to continue on our mission of creating meaningful social impact for the next 50 years and beyond.”Choithrams CEO Rajiv Warrier revealed a special edition 50-year logo that will be seen in all Choithrams corporate literature during the anniversary year, “When you have a powerful legacy such as Choithrams’, and when you have an ambitious path ahead thanks to the support of our customers, our partners, and stakeholders, how do you bring it all together in one graphic? We circled back to that one enduring value that continues to move us every day: Goodness. Choithrams’ 50-year infinity logo is the sum of 50 years’ worth of Goodness and care, and we hope it inspires you as much as it motivates us on our golden jubilee year.”The brand offers a truly hybrid shopping experience to customers with more than 50 outlets at strategic locations in the UAE, a robust online presence at, and an optimised mobile-first delivery network to reach customers through Instashop, Talabat, Deliveroo, El Grocer, Noon.Apart from a significant retail footprint in the UAE and the GCC region including Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman, Choithrams integrates an impressive global network of distribution channels and manufacturing bases under one roof. Choithrams has built its reputation on the strength of decades-long relationships with leading suppliers and brands, representing category-leaders Rainbow, Mentos, Coca Cola, Quaker, Weetabix, Dabur, Amul, Betty Crocker, Haagen Dazs and many others.On behalf of Al Rais Group Mr. Mohammad Ibrahim Al Rais said, “We have vivid memories of Choithrams from the 1970s. Its outlets on Wasl road and Bur Dubai buzzing with excitement as customers shop for their favourite imported grocery items and fresh produce, always seen first in its stores. Choithrams supermarkets hold an enduring place in the hearts and minds of UAE residents since that time. We cherish our partnership with Choithrams that became part of our family legacy and culture. We wish Choithrams more success stories for years to come.”Choithrams is known for bringing Britain’s Tesco range of products, and Ireland’s SuperValu to the retail stores of UAE. It has now tied up with retail Sainsbury’s products as a preferred partner in the UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar.Behind every moment of customer delight in the UAE and the region, there is an efficient system of trade support that Choithrams has grown over the past 50 years into a business advantage for partners, leveraging significant presence across trade channels.Highlighting Choithrams’ manufacturing credentials, Rajiv Warrier said, “Our home-grown brands Goodness Foods and Leone are known for their reassuring quality.’’ Goodness Foods offers more than 500 products, including fresh fruits and vegetables, juices, dry fruits, groceries, and ready-to-eat meals. Leone Tea, blended and produced by an in-house team, makes its way to delight thousands of customers every day across more than 2000 cafeterias.Choithrams’ decades-old Planet 7 Sustainability framework has led to the adoption of technology to sustainability goals while fostering the principle of Goodness. It has helped to create positive social and environmental impact, to reduce waste, to harvest clean energy, and to stand next to communities in vulnerable situations. Interventions to bolster social inclusion and gender parity is already shaping into one of the biggest success stories of the retail sector.Rehana Raj (Operations Head- Retail) says “We are extremely proud of our superwomen team and welcome you to visit our all-women run store in Dubai Marina, a-first-of-its-kind initiative in the UAE. This success story will only get bigger and become a benchmark operating model for the retail industry.”

iCubesWire Appoints Mazen Bahnassy as Assoc. Business Director, MENA Influencers

iCubesWire, a leading global AI & ML Mobile Marketing Platform, has announced the elevation of Mazen Bahnassy to lead Influencer Marketing business across the MENA and GCC regions, focusing on UAE, KSA, Qatar, Egypt. This move aligns with the company’s upcoming expansion plans to strengthen its grip in the region. Mazen has more than 8 years of professional experience across marketing roles. His expertise spans across the marketing industry, including influencer marketing, campaign strategy development and partnerships management. Mazen’s leadership skills and multifaceted experience make him a valuable asset to the leadership team. His earlier tenures and solid ground coverage is marked by long-term client relationships and exceptional campaign management for notable brands.Commenting on the elevation, Sanjeeda Khan, Co-Founder & Chief Growth Officer, MENA region, iCubesWire, states, “With Mazen’s addition, we have created another pillar for the company’s leadership team. His expertise across industries and ability to see marketing endeavours from a wide perspective will prompt our growth plans for influencer marketing in key regions. We are confident that the team will continue to excel under his leadership.” Adding further, Mazen Bahnassy, Associate Business Director, Influencer Marketing, iCubesWire, said, “I am super excited to take on this responsibility of driving the influencer marketing business. With the dynamic team at iCubesWire, I am certain we will continue strengthening our position in the region and drive sustainable growth for the company.”

Gartner Forecasts 295 Million AI PCs and GenAI Smartphones Worldwide by 2024

Worldwide shipments of AI PCs and generative AI (GenAI) smartphones are projected to total 295 million units by the end of 2024, up from 29 million units in 2023, according to a new forecast from Gartner, Inc.Gartner defines AI PCs as PCs that are equipped with dedicated AI accelerators or cores, neural processing units (NPUs), accelerated processing units (APUs) or tensor processing units (TPUs), designed to optimize and accelerate AI tasks on the device. This provides improved performance and efficiency in handling AI and GenAI workloads without relying on external servers or cloud services. GenAI smartphones are designed smartphones equipped with hardware and software capabilities that enable seamless integration and efficient execution of GenAI-driven features and applications on the smartphone. These smartphones are capable of locally running a base or fine-tuned AI model that generates new derived versions of content, strategies, designs and methods. Examples of this include Gemini Nano from Google, ERNIE from Baidu and OpenAI’s GPT-4.“The rapid adoption of on-device GenAI capabilities and AI processors will eventually become a standard requirement for technology vendors,” said Ranjit Atwal, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner. “This ubiquity will pose challenges for vendors in differentiating themselves from competitors, making it harder to create unique selling points and drive increased revenues.”Gartner estimates 240 million GenAI smartphones and 54.5 million AI PCs will be shipped by the end of 2024 (see Figure 1). This will represent 22% of basic and premium smartphones and 22% of all PCs in 2024.The integration of AI into PCs is not expected to drive end-user spending beyond anticipated price increases. Business device buyers will demand compelling reasons to invest. However, it will take time for software providers to harness the power of on-device AI and clearly demonstrate its enhanced benefits.The PC market returned to growth in the fourth quarter of 2023 after eight consecutive quarters of decline. Gartner estimates overall PC shipments will total 250.4 million units in 2024, a 3.5% increase from 2023.On-device AI should rejuvenate the marketing of PCs through 2024 and help sustain existing anticipated replacement cycles, negating some of the negative effects of a disruptive socioeconomic environment.Smartphone Market to Return to Growth in 2024Like AI PCs, GenAI smartphones will not bolster smartphone demand until 2027. “The enhancements to smartphones evolve the current experiences with cameras and voice integration, but these capabilities are expected by users rather than demonstrating a new groundbreaking functionality. Users have the same expectation for the functionality of GenAI on their smartphone,” said Atwal. “They are unlikely to pay a premium for GenAI smartphones without the availability of any groundbreaking applications.”The catalyst for transformative shifts in user experience lies in the advancement of smaller versions of large language models (LLMs) specifically tailored for smartphones. This evolution will transform smartphones into even more intuitive companions capable of comprehending and responding to human language and visual cues, which will elevate the overall user experience to new heights.The smartphone market recorded its first quarter of growth in 4Q23 after nine consecutive quarters of decline. In 2024, worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to grow 4.2%, totalling 1.2 billion units year over year. “We should not interpret the growth in smartphone shipments as a full-fledged recovery,” said Atwal. “It is more accurate to view it as a stabilization of lower level of units, which are nearly 60 million lower than in 2022.”

ThinkPR celebrates new contract wins and team growth

Leading PR, marketing, and design agency, ThinkPR is celebrating the start of the year with several new client wins and receiving award recognition for its work in the third sector.Marking its 20th year of business, ThinkPR further strengthens its position as an energy-focused marketing agency with client wins including TWMA, Reactive Downhole Tools, Interocean, and Houston-based PipeSense, in addition to a contract extension with Spirit Energy. The PR specialists have also led a series of Aberdeen-based Emergency Response projects and handled the media launch of the recent Helipets initiative with Scottish Charity, Canine Concern Scotland Trust. The ThinkPR team has expanded to 10 with Amy Cassie and Erin Ingram joining at the end of 2023 as Junior Designer and Account Executive respectively. Also contributing to the already impressive year for the company, ThinkPR has been shortlisted as a finalist of the Northern Star Business Awards' Marketing Magic award in recognition of its ongoing marketing support with charity partner, Autism & Neurodiversity North Scotland (A-ND).   The ThinkPR team has provided support for A-ND since last February including strategic marketing campaign support, social media support, and led the process to the charity’s first fundraising dinner, which was such a success that it received a parliamentary motion. Returning for 2024, the ‘Think Different’ dinner has already received sponsorship from Global E&C, Envoy Group, Stork and Serica Energy.Focusing on its specialist marketing support within the energy transition including supporting clients in the CCUS landscape, the marketing and design specialists also launched the inaugural ‘Women in New Energy: W.I.N.E’ event in partnership with industry professionals which is set to take place again in 2024. Commenting on ThinkPR’s success, CEO Annabel Sall, said: “2023 was an incredible year for the team – from supporting long-standing clients with their growth and success, to welcoming new businesses who have started their journey with marketing. Our ‘Think Different’ dinner was a highlight for us, and we are so excited to be recognised for our success by the Chamber of Commerce this year too. “I’m extremely proud of the team, led by Leigh-Ann and I, and the quality of work we continue to provide our clients globally. Our strength lies in our team being able to offer a range of insight and skill sets with marketing services including media relations, brand development and management, crisis comms, website design, and business awards – we become a true extension of our client’s teams. As we celebrate our 20th birthday this year, the new business wins and recognition for our work is a proud moment and chance to reflect all we have achieved.” ThinkPR offers services across the full communications mix, including media liaison, news release and feature writing, design and marketing, digital, website and social media support and emergency response planning and training. Established in 2004, ThinkPR represents a variety of businesses - from SMEs to global organisations industry membership bodies and not-for-profit societies - in the UK and internationally.

Saudi media ministry embraces digital transformation with Google

The Ministry of Media and Google have announced a powerful collaboration to accelerate the digital transformation of Saudi Arabia's media landscape. This collaboration aligns with the Kingdom's vision of 2024 being the "Year of Media Transformation," as declared by Minister of Media Salman Al-Dosary.Key Goals:Empowering media professionals: Specialized programmes will be launched to upskill local journalists, content creators, and media professionals in crucial digital skills.Building digital knowledge: The partnership aims to foster a strong foundation in digital knowledge across the media sector, driving progress towards Vision 2030 goals.Sharing best practices: Google will share its expertise in media-related AI tools and global best practices, enhancing the capabilities of Saudi media organizations.Supporting young talent: Dedicated training programs will nurture young Saudi journalists and media professionals, boosting their innovative and digital skills.Promoting online safety: The "Internet Heroes" program will be expanded, educating children aged 7-12 on online safety practices, reaching 50,000 students across the Kingdom.Enhancing content creation: YouTube will offer training courses on video creation strategies for content creators and news outlets, empowering Saudi content creation.Optimizing media revenue: Collaborations with Upskill Digital will equip media professionals with skills to increase advertising revenues, analyze audience segments, and improve website ranking on Google Search.This collaborative effort marks a significant step towards a more innovative and digitally proficient media landscape in Saudi Arabia. By empowering professionals, promoting online safety, and nurturing young talent, the partnership lays the groundwork for a vibrant future of media in the Kingdom.

After 40 years, APCO sheds 'Worldwide' in bold brand refresh

After 40 years, APCO throws off the "Worldwide" label in a bold brand refresh. Get ready for a future-focused APCO, built on deep connections, creative problem-solving, and a legacy of driving progress through "un/common ground." "This brand refresh signifies our forward-thinking approach," APCO explains, focusing on guiding clients through intricate issues and fostering "un/common ground" to drive progress. The centerpiece of the new identity is the "Uncommon A," a distinctive element within the logo.This symbol embodies APCO's journey. One side reflects its traditional roots, while the other, missing a leg, represents its commitment to adaptability and creative problem-solving.The name change is not just aesthetic. It conveys the agency's belief that its global reach and deep connections speak for themselves. As clients often highlight, APCO has a unique ability to operate as a unified entity with strong international relationships, providing crucial connections for their success."Our 40-year track record, diverse expertise, and integrated approach speak volumes," says Founder and Executive Chairman Margery Kraus. "Our special culture and character, fueled by our incredible people, shape our perspectives and work. I'm proud of our achievements and thrilled that our new brand reflects our heritage, embraces the future, and embodies the legacy we're building."By embracing change and highlighting its core values, APCO positions itself for continued success in navigating the ever-evolving global landscape.

MCN appoints Lizzie Dewhurst as Chief Communications Officer

MCN, a part of IPG, has appointed Lizzie Dewhurst as their new Chief Communications Officer. Dewhurst, formerly the Head of International Communications & PR at Publicis Groupe, will join MCN's leadership team, reporting directly to Ghassan Harfouche, Group CEO MCN MENAT and President McCann Worldgroup APAC.In her new role, Dewhurst will oversee the brand profile, reputation management, and marketing efforts for MCN and its extensive portfolio of agencies. This includes well-known entities such as McCann Worldgroup and IPG Mediabrands, along with several others including FP7McCann, MullenLowe, UM, Magna, Initiative, KINESSO, MRM, McCann Health, Momentum, Craft, Weber Shandwick, Commonwealth//McCann, Jack Morton, Octagon, and Current Global.MCN operates in 11 markets in MENAT and boasts approximately 2,000 employees. Their agency brands offer integrated marketing solutions aimed at fostering enduring brands and driving business growth for their clients.Dewhurst brings a wealth of experience from her tenure at Publicis Groupe, where she played a pivotal role in overseeing international corporate communications, media relations, executive profiles, crisis management, and reputation management. Her contributions were instrumental in Publicis Groupe's recognition, including being named Ad Age’s Holding Company of the Year (2022) and Adweek’s international agency of the year (2021). Notably, her involvement in initiatives such as the launch of Working with Cancer earned accolades like the Health Grand Prix Lion (2023).With a background spanning the US, Europe, and the Middle East, Dewhurst leverages her international experience gained from leadership roles at renowned agencies like Publicis Worldwide, Leo Burnett, and Saatchi + Saatchi. Additionally, she has contributed to global communications teams at TBWA\Worldwide and AKQA. Dewhurst's expertise extends to judging PR categories at industry award shows and serving as a guest lecturer at universities.Ghassan Harfouche expressed his enthusiasm about Dewhurst's appointment, citing her extensive multinational communications experience across agencies, holding companies, and brands. He believes that her addition will bring added value to MCN's agencies and clients, further enhancing their strategic communications efforts.

The Romans appoints Joe Lipscombe as Partner to lead MENA

Joe Lipscombeb has been appointed as a Partner at The Romans, a creative communications agency. Lipscombe's appointment signals The Romans' commitment to expanding its presence and delivering exceptional creative solutions in the dynamic MENA market.Lipscombe brings with him a wealth of experience from his background as a journalist and his tenure as Ogilvy's executive strategy and creative director for PR in MENA.Under Lipscombe's leadership, The Romans aim to continue delivering award-winning creativity to the market, with a renewed focus on growth creation, reputation management, and cultural influence. His track record in spearheading creative success at Ogilvy is highlighted, positioning The Romans as a key player in the region's PR landscape.Joe Mackay-Sinclair, CEO of The Romans, emphasizes the strategic importance of the MENA region to the agency's business and expresses confidence in Lipscombe's ability to match the region's creativity and dynamism. Mackay-Sinclair praises Lipscombe's sharpness and connections within the industry, positioning him as an ideal leader for the agency's expansion in the region.Lipscombe's career highlights include involvement in transformative projects such as Expo 2020 Dubai, the Qatar FIFA World Cup, and various launches and inaugurations across the region. He brings a wealth of experience working with global and local brands, further enhancing The Romans' capabilities in delivering strategic, creative, and media representation services.In his statement, Lipscombe expresses his admiration for The Romans' achievements and aligns the agency's ambition with the transformational pace of the MENA region. He emphasizes the agency's role as a creative growth partner and looks forward to bringing the unique Romans experience to the market, leveraging a blend of regional talent and a global mindset to meet the demands of innovative clients.

Floward unveils new brand identity and becomes a House of Brands

Floward, the go-to online flowers and gifts delivery destination in MENA and the UK, has announced the roll-out of its new brand identity in 2024. The company has undergone a complete transformation, with a new logo, visual identity, packaging, and digital experience with a strategic shift towards becoming a house of brands. It also announced the launch of its global brand platform, “Unwrap your heart”, that aims to uplift everyday expressions and inspire people to build stronger relationships through meaningful gifts and simple acts of kindness. This shift towards becoming a house of brands represents a crucial step towards the company’s vision of becoming the world’s most innovative and reliable destination for all gift-givers. Floward’s new brand identity reflects the company’s commitment to further cementing its position as an elegant, expressive, and creative brand. The wordmark is carefully designed to exude a sense of subtle elegance, celebrating the company’s brand name, and highlighting its unique identity. Furthermore, a custom Arabic font was created, embodying a harmonious fusion of modernity and cultural heritage. This font serves to emphasize the company’s commitment to authenticity and pride in its culture.  The company’s new emblem, made of thin lines and graceful loops, features intricate and symmetrical intertwining ‘F’s that resemble a knot, creating a refined and minimalistic aesthetic reflecting the elegance of the brand. As part of its strategy of shifting into a house of brands, Floward will also be focusing on partnering with local and international brands that champion different categories across various industries by offering exclusive collections for its customers, in addition to investing in its own line of gifts and becoming more stylish. This will not only expand Floward’s products portfolio but also increase its market reach, making it a dominant player in the gifting vertical of e-commerce.  Floward Chairman and CEO Mr. Abdulaziz B. Al Loughani, commented: “We are thrilled to announce our new brand identity and our repositioning as a house of brands. This is a significant step towards our goal of becoming the world’s most innovative and reliable destination for all gift-givers. We are committed to providing our customers with a wide range of high-quality products and services, and becoming a House of Brands is the right step towards that direction. We are also excited to support local brands and contributing to the growth of the e-commerce industry in the MENA.” Established in 2017, Floward is a full-fledged e-commerce solution that offers prime fresh-cut flowers sourced from the best growers and farmers around the world and arranged locally by a team of florists and designers. Floward also offers cakes, chocolate and perfumes curated by the region’s most exciting designers bundled with its flower arrangements and manages last-mile same-day delivery to ensure the best customer experience.

Archie Rudyuk on Takefluence's role in MENA's creator economy

Mitgo Group, a global tech company focused on delivering innovative marketing solutions and promoting entrepreneurship, has recently launched Takefluence, a platform connecting content creators and social media enthusiasts with brands in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.With this launch of Takefluence, Mitgo Group aims to strengthen its position in the MENA influencer marketing industry, which experts estimate at more than $1 billion.In this interview with Adgully Middle East, Archie Rudyuk, Regional Director of Mitgo Group in MENA and Co-founder of Takefluence, discusses the recent launch of Takefluence, aimed at connecting content creators and social media enthusiasts with brands in the MENA region. The platform is designed to facilitate influencer marketing activities in the MENA region, which is estimated to be worth over $1 billion. Rudyuk also highlighted the importance of Takefluence in strengthening Mitgo Group's position in the MENA influencer marketing industry. The platform seeks to tap into the growing market of content creators and social media influencers in the region, providing them with opportunities to collaborate with brands and monetize their online presence.What personal or professional values guide you as the CEO of Takefluence?Working with Takefluence has been an exhilarating journey, fueled by my passion for innovation and dedication to building strong connections between content creators and brands. As CEO, my guiding principles are integrity, creativity, and teamwork. These core values are the heartbeat of our company culture, influencing every decision and strategy, propelling us towards fostering a vibrant ecosystem where both creators and brands can flourish together.Mitgo Group, a global tech company, has announced the launch of Takefluence in the MENA region. How, according to you, will it change the creator economy and social landscape in MENA?The launch of Takefluence in the MENA region marks a significant shift in the creator economy and social landscape. With experts estimating the MENA influencer marketing industry at more than $1 billion, the significance of the content economy in the region is on the rise. This growth is further supported by the announcement of a Dh150 million fund by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.The MENA content economy is expanding rapidly, and with projections indicating a steady rise in creator ad spending, Takefluence's strategic debut aligns perfectly with these trends. We aim to empower creators and forge genuine connections between brands and their audiences, enhancing the region's creator economy.What sets Takefluence apart from other companies in the creator economy space?Takefluence stands out for its innovative approach to collaboration with content creators. Our platform offers unique campaign types based on various actions like conversions, reposting, making a post/story, leaving a product review, and more.Furthermore, it streamlines the entire process for brands — from on-boarding and reporting to payouts offering unparalleled efficiency and effectiveness in social media campaigns. This efficiency, coupled with our collaboration with over 150 brands including Noon, Namshi, and Huawei, positions us to significantly impact the MENA creator economy by enhancing engagement, fostering authentic connections, and boosting brand visibility.How do you envision the future of the creator economy evolving in the MENA, and how is Takefluence adapting to these changes?I see the future of the creator economy in MENA moving towards a more dynamic, collaborative ecosystem that values authenticity and the power of micro and nano influencers. At Takefluence, we're constantly innovating our platform to meet these evolving needs, providing brands and creators with the tools necessary for success. We aim to stay at the forefront of trends and leverage our partnerships to drive impactful engagement and long-term achievements.What can be some of the challenges that you may have to face in MENA, and how will you overcome them?Navigating the MENA market comes with its set of challenges, including cultural nuances, regulatory hurdles, and stiff competition. Our strategy to overcome these obstacles involves building strong local relationships, deeply understanding the cultural landscape, and ensuring regulatory compliance. Innovation and strategic partnerships will also be key in maintaining our competitive edge.Can you discuss a particularly successful campaign orchestrated through Takefluence in the Middle East? What made it successful?One particularly successful campaign orchestrated through Takefluence involved a collaboration between Truegamers and their loyal audience.Truegamers, a leading gaming club in the region, partnered with Takefluence to create an innovative ambassador programme leveraging the influence of their dedicated followers and attracting new participants by rewarding loyalty and invitations. This campaign showcased the power of user-generated content and rewarding audience engagement.Truegamers' ambassador programme encouraged content creators to share an exclusive promo code with their audience, offering 1 hour of free play at Truegamers for every new user sign-up using the code. Additionally, creators earned up to 35 AED for every new gamer joining True Gamers with their exclusive promo code. This incentive-based approach not only attracted new users to Truegamers but also incentivized content creators to actively promote the brand, driving engagement and brand loyalty.True Gamers are going to open 150 new gaming clubs in Saudi Arabia, and we are planning to extend our collaboration there to empower local gaming talent and creators.What advice do you have for brands looking to collaborate with content creators more effectively?Consider leveraging the power of nano and micro creators, whose campaigns have been proven to be up to 4-5 times more effective than those of mega influencers.One effective strategy is to embrace the brand-formance format, which incorporates Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) and hybrid campaigns. This approach offers diverse campaign options tailored to your specific goals and objectives, ensuring optimal performance and ROI.Platforms like Takefluence offer streamlined processes for launching campaigns, automating tasks such as onboarding, reporting, and payouts. By leveraging such platforms, brands can save time and resources while ensuring efficient and effective campaigns.What innovations or developments can we expect to see from Takefluence in the Middle East after partnering with Mitgo?Looking ahead, we're excited to expand our brand partnerships, enhance our platform features, and introduce new initiatives to support creators and brands in the region.We've recently launched our Ambassador programme, offering content creators access to special offers. We are committed to driving innovation and fostering meaningful connections between content creators and brands to reshape social commerce in the MENA region.How does Takefluence stay ahead of emerging trends and changes in social media platforms?We keep our finger on the pulse of the industry by closely monitoring trends, engaging with experts, and leveraging data analytics. Valuing feedback from our community of creators and brands allows us to evolve our platform in line with their needs. This proactive approach ensures we stay agile and continue to lead in the creator economy space.

Metropolitan Group Ranks Third in Great Place to Work™ UAE Index

Metropolitan Group, a leading real estate group in the UAE, was recognized as the third Best Workplace™ in 2024 in the Large sized business category by the Great Place to Work, a global authority on workplace culture, at their annual awards ceremony last Thursday.  Metropolitan continues making history as the first and only real estate brokerage to ever make the list. The official index ranks the UAE’s best employers based on the confidential feedback of all employees and an audit of management practices and culture at work.  In 2023, the Group ranked sixth Best Workplace in the UAE moving up four places from 2022. The Group was also recognised as the #1 Best Place to Work for Women in the GCC in 2022 and achieved the Best Workplaces list for millennials in the GCC two years running.  One of the key catalysts for the Group’s success in 2023 was its investment in Human Resources (HR) and the re-structuring of the function to a new People, Performance and Culture Team to prioritize employee needs and foster a high-performance workplace culture. Mike Fleet, Metropolitan Group’s Deputy CEO said: “In 2023, we created a new standalone HR brand to promote internal company culture and drive external brand awareness positioning us as a destination employer for top talent. We designed the new HR operating system to be cross functional, collaborative and flexible. We are shifting from providing basic HR employee services to having a more visible and present offering that provides people insights, enables decision-making and builds capabilities to enable greater business strategy and growth. Our wider HR function is also becoming more data driven which helps us get a better understanding of our employees functional and emotional needs.”  The Group introduced a new HR Business Partner (HRBP) role in 2023 to address employee needs and concerns and strategically align HR with the Group’s business priorities. The HRBPs partner the business to understand and positively influence people, performance and strategic priorities. Through HRBPs, Metropolitan listens to its employees and this month HR launches Metropolitan Minds; a new online facility for all employees to share ideas, give feedback and suggestions for improvements, with the best ideas being rewarded by incentives and prizes.    Nikita Kuznetsov, CEO Metropolitan Group said: “The Metropolitan Group has a clear vision to being recognized as #1 brokerage for real estate services in the UAE and an employer of choice for the real estate community. 2023 was a year of transformation for us as we focused on streamlining business processes, improving employee workflows and operational excellence. These changes boosted productivity, collaboration and enhanced retention as our employees were given management support to become more effective in their roles. We believe that professional workplace positively influences health, wellbeing, employee satisfaction and performance. As we continue to grow, we wanted to provide our employees with optimal working conditions so opened 100,000 square feet of state-of-the-art offices in five locations across UAE.”  One of the Group’s most important and successful HR initiatives is the dedicated Sales and Training Academy, designed to increase employee performance and enhance customer experience and satisfaction. Services include comprehensive induction programs for new joiners, system trainings, product knowledge materials/packs, coaching, team building activities and regular assessments for all employees, The Metropolitan family has over 700 employees and 66 nationalities speaking 41 languages. The Group continues to focus on delivering a brilliant client experience; achieving hundreds of five-star Google reviews every year; winning The Feefo Gold Trusted Service Award 2022 and 2023 and this year the company was awarded the coveted Feefo Platinum Service Award 2024. The Metropolitan Group includes three full-service real estate agencies:?Metropolitan Premium Properties?(Dubai),?Metropolitan Capital Real Estate LLC?(Abu Dhabi) and?Luxury Immobilien GmbH?(Vienna). The Group also includes Metropolitan Consulting FZE, providing personal and business legal services in the UAE. In 2022, the Group established Metropolitan Homes, a one-stop real estate agency providing the full cycle of brokerage services to Dubai's secondary property market sellers and buyers. Also, in the same year, the Group introduced its luxury division - powered by Metropolitan, to cater to the discerning needs of Ultra High-Net-Worth Individuals (UHNWIs) who require a bespoke real estate experience in the UAE.

Sociowash secures Tide Arabia’s digital mandate to revamp the brand’s presence

Sociowash, an integrated advertising agency, has secured the digital mandate for Tide Arabia, the leading laundry detergent brand in the UAE.The agency will be responsible for elevating the brand's digital presence through the formulation and execution of strategic creative approaches.The account was won as Sociowash's successful management of Tide India's account stood as a testament to the agency's capabilities. The quality of work delivered reflects the high standards and expertise that Sociowash consistently brings to its clients. The account will be managed by the agency’s Mumbai team. As part of this strategic partnership, Sociowash will be responsible for increasing the digital share of voice of the brand by executing campaigns that will increase engagement and brand recall. The agency will amplify the brand’s digital presence while resonating with its target audience and help the brand achieve its business objectivesWhen asked about the win, Raghav Bagai, co-founder of Sociowash, said, “Tide is the most prominent name when it comes to laundry detergents, globally. We are elated to have been chosen to manage the digital landscape for Tide Arabia. We are confident that our team's extensive experience and expertise in FMCG brands will help redefine and elevate the brand's digital positioning in the region. Together, we can create an impact that goes beyond what has been achieved before, reaching new locations, setting new benchmarks, and adding genuine value for the brand.”Arushi Sethi, Brand Director, Tide Arabia, said, “With Sociowash, Tide Arabia looks forward to leveraging new technologies and tactical digital strategies; to further cement our position as a leading laundry detergent brand. We are excited to collaborate and craft engaging campaigns, increasing audience engagement and elevating our overall digital presence.”

Dubai Lynx announces the Annahar Media Group as the Advertiser of the Year 2024

Dubai Lynx, MENA’s leading platform for creative excellence and effectiveness, has announced the Annahar Media Group in Lebanon, as the Advertiser of the Year for 2024 today. The Award recognises a brand that has distinguished themselves through innovative marketing and embracing creative work produced by their agencies.The Advertiser of the Year Award will be presented to Annahar Media Group representative Nayla Tueni, CEO, Annahar Media Group at the Dubai Lynx Awards Ceremony, taking place at the Emirates Golf Club on Wednesday 6 March.Speaking about the Award, Simon Cook, CEO, LIONS & Dubai Lynx, said: “The Advertiser of the Year Award recognises creative excellence, demonstrating the business value of creative communications. We are delighted to present this year’s Award to the Annahar Media Group, who are responsible for a body of work that has created significant impact across business and tangible social change. They have truly raised the creative bar for the region.”The Annahar Newspaper, a renowned outlet for upholding freedom of speech and democracy in Lebanon, has taken home the Grand Prix in the Print & Publishing Lions for their bold and courageous campaigns for the past two years consecutively at Cannes Lions and previously in 2019. ‘The Blank Edition’, which took the Grand Prix in 2019, was an entirely blank edition to highlight the Lebanese people’s frustration with political inactivity. After the release of the blank edition, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief encouraged citizens to use it to write their own headlines and send messages to politicians, over social media. 2022 saw ‘The Elections Edition’, by IMPACT BBDO, Dubai win the Grand Prix at Cannes Lions in the Print & Publishing Lions, followed by the Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix at Dubai Lynx the following year in 2023. The Annahar Newspaper achieved a consecutive second Grand Prix in the Print & Publishing Lions at Cannes Lions for ‘Newspapers inside the newspapers edition’, by IMPACT BBDO, Dubai, in 2023 after taking home the Grand Prix for the Print & Publishing Lynx at Dubai Lynx that same year. The campaign saw a different local newspaper that had ceased to exist in the last two decades in their daily edition, publish the news for one day in celebration of press freedom.Nayla Tueni, CEO, Annahar Media Group, commented: "We are deeply honored to be named 'Advertiser of the Year' at Dubai Lynx. This recognition underscores the relentless dedication of the entire team. Having garnered multiple Grands Prix at both Dubai Lynx and Cannes Lions, we take pride in being pioneers, as the first brand to bring a Cannes Lions Grand Prix to the entire Middle East. Beyond accolades, our unwavering commitment to truth remains our guiding principle. This award is a testament not only to our efforts but also to the enduring spirit of the Lebanese people. We share this triumph with them and eagerly anticipate further elevating industry standards.”Ian Fairservice, Vice Chairman, Dubai Lynx, added: “We are delighted to award the Annahar Media Group for 2024 and celebrate their groundbreaking creativity. Their campaigns have challenged the status quo and harnessed creativity as a force for progress for people, business and society. We look forward to honouring them at the Awards Ceremony in March.”The presentation of the 2024 Dubai Lynx Advertiser of the Year Award will take place during the Dubai Lynx Awards Ceremony at the Emirates Golf Club on Wednesday 6 March. For further information on the Festival and Awards Ceremony passes please visit dates:Tuesday 5 March: FestivalWednesday 6 March: Awards Ceremony & Dinner