Analysing the tepid response to Netflix’s AVOD version

Is Netflix’s ad-supported offering a dud? While it is too early to come to that conclusion, the much-touted ad tier, launched in 12 countries in November, isn’t eliciting encouraging response from the audience, at least in the US. The basic ad plan has garnered only 9% of new subscribers in the US in November, according to subscription analytics firm Antenna. Netflix has rebuffed Antenna’s data with its spokesperson telling The Wall Street Journal that it is still “very early days for our ad-supported tier and we’re pleased with its launch and engagement, as well as the eagerness of advertisers to partner with Netflix”.The advertisers, however, aren’t as eager as the streamer claims. Netflix has reportedly returned money to advertisers after it fell “short of ad-supported viewership guarantees made to advertisers,” according to Digiday. The report, quoting five agency executives, says that Netflix has “only delivered roughly 80% of the expected audience”.“They can’t deliver. They don’t have enough inventory to deliver. So they’re literally giving the money back,” said one of the agency executives, who blamed the streamer for the lack of a big marketing push to promote the ad-supported tier and attract subscribers.Yes, Netflix was in a hurry to launch the ad-supported version, as it faced the toughest of times since its launch. The first six months of 2022 saw the streaming giant laying off 450 employees on two different occasions. The streaming company’s share price fell almost 20% after it lost, during the first quarter, 200,000 subscribers worldwide, especially in markets like the US, fuelled to a great extent by increasing competition from rivals like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, Paramount+, etc. (The target for the year was 2.5 million new subscribers.) The tough conditions prompted the streamer to resort to measures like imposing a ban on account-sharing, and launching an ad-supported tier, which the company has shunned for long.For the ad-supported tier, Netflix tied up with Microsoft to sell its ad slots, and signed with BARB (the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board) and Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify for the purpose of measurement.According to reports, the streamer was selling its slot at a price of around £50 for every 1,000 viewers reached; that is double the rate charged by streaming services owned by Channel 4 or ITV. Some of the brands that joined were L’Oréal and the world’s biggest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, which owns popular names like Budweiser. But there is neither independently assessed audience data nor the option to target specific demographics. Well, analysts feel that, going forward, brands will demand sophisticated and advanced targeting capabilities from Netflix. And there are no popular titles such as ‘Peaky Blinders’ on the ad-supported platform. Licensing restriction was the reason cited by Netflix COO Greg Peters for this. He said that only 5% to 10% of Netflix’s total catalogue would not be currently available in the ad-supported tier.Too early?Meanwhile, industry observers say that it is too early to arrive at a conclusion that Netflix ad tier is a failure.Netflix is always known for its subscriber-based plans and providing the best of the experience to its viewers, says Faqhrul Husaini, Producer and Co-founder, Smiley Films. “Now this is the early stage of their AVOD roll-out; yes, it has not got the desired results, but we will have to wait for another 2-3 years before making up our minds about it. It will be more clear when they will expand AVOD-based plans in more markets. I think as SVOD has failed to get any streaming giant in a profitable position and economical situation is getting worse, so AVOD is going to be the main revenue generation system for all the streamers, but SVOD will be there for premium customers who prefer experience over money,” he adds.It’s still early days for the ad tier and we’ve yet to hear from Netflix, says analyst Paolo Pescatore. Therefore, he adds, we can expect some guidance during the next quarterly earnings call.“Let’s not forget the calendar fourth quarter tends to be a good one in terms of subscriber growth due to seasonality. This has been a good quarter of programming with ‘The Crown’, and of course, the Harry & Meghan documentary. Netflix will hope that the huge anticipation for the show will lead to sign-ups. The streamer is not dead. The show will reinforce its market-leading position as an indispensable streamer in people’s homes,” he says.According to him, the show is a blockbuster in its own right that will draw attention among users who have not already subscribed to the streamer. “Unquestionably, this ensures that Netflix ends the year in a far stronger position, building on blockbuster third quarter, with normal service having been restored. This is in stark contrast to the first half of the year. Significantly, this excludes the move into advertising, which will help broaden its base, business model and much more.”Rosy future for AVODAnalysts feel ad-based tiers, or the hybrid model, will catch up in the days ahead. According to a forecast by Bloomberg Intelligence report, Netflix’s ad-based subscription plan has the potential to boost revenue and user growth. “Longer term ads are expected to reboot user growth and while cannibalisation is the single biggest worry, robust ad average revenue per user should help to reaccelerate sales,” say Bloomberg Intelligence senior media analyst Geetha Ranganathan and senior associate analyst Kevin Near.Going forward, we can expect a hybrid model to take precedence, according to a research report by Digital TV Research.The report says that only 24% of Netflix’s total subscribers (which is 63 million) will pay for a hybrid AVOD-SVOD tier by 2028.Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research, feels that the majority of Netflix’s SVOD-only subscribers will remain on these plans, despite the cheap availability of AVOD-SVOD tier. “The hybrid tier will appeal most to developing countries where disposable incomes are lower. The hybrid tier will also be attractive to new subscribers that do not have legacy SVOD-only subscriptions,” he says.Globally, ad-supported tiers will drive SVOD subscriptions to increase by $428 million between 2022 and 2028 to reach $1.76 billion, according to the Digital TV Research. A hybrid SVOD-AVOD model, led by giants like Netflix, Disney+, Warner Bros. Discovery, etc. will drive growth.According to Murray, Netflix will provide its hybrid AVOD-SVOD tier in 85 countries by 2028, followed by Disney+ in 91 countries, and HBO in 55 and Paramount+ in 56. The research firm estimates that these four platforms will have a combined 372 million hybrid AVOD-SVOD subscribers in the next five years.Given that Disney+ subscribers in most markets are expected to convert automatically to the hybrid AVOD-SVOD tier, Digital TV Research predicts that the platform will have 206 million subs to this tier by 2028 – or 88% of its total.

Dubai property market set to hit new peak in 2023

Dubai real estate market will continue its upward trajectory in 2023 as the property prices and the annual rent are expected to increase further amid rising demand and interest from high net worth individuals (HNWIs) and foreign investors, according to the Zoom Property Insights.The latest data from Zoom Property Insights forecasts that Dubai property prices are expected to increase up to 20 per cent increase on average and the luxury segment will continue to dominate with 13.5 per cent year-on-year growth in 2023.Ata Shobeiry, CEO of Zoom Property, echoes the sentiment that the property market will continue its upward momentum on the back of strong demand from end-users and foreign and local investors.“The Dubai property market has cemented its position as a leading real estate destination, with 2022 proving to be a remarkable year (so far) for the sector. It is expected to end on a strong note, paving the way for an even stronger 2023,” he said."I believe popular communities, such as Palm Jumeirah, Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, JBR, etc., will continue attracting buyers and investors in the next year as well,” Shobeiry said.High-end properties on the riseReferring to a recent report by Knight Frank, the Zoom Property Insights said the high-end properties in Dubai will have another remarkable year, with an anticipated 13.5 per cent increase in prices next year. This is the highest increase among the top 25 foreign destinations.Miami ranks 2nd with an expected 5 per cent increase in prices while Los Angeles, Paris, and New York are other prominent names on the list.Top areas expected to remain popular in 2023Data obtained from the Zoom Property Insights indicates that Palm Jumeirah witnessed the highest price increase of 5 per cent in the apartment sector in recent times. It was followed by MBR City, Meydan City, and Living Legends. All these communities recorded a 4.7 per cent increase in the average property prices.For villas, the highest growth of 4.6 per cent was recorded in Emirates Hills. Mudon (4.1 per cent), Jumeriah Village Circle (3.9 per cent), and MBR City (3.1 per cent) remained other prominent areas.For rental apartments, The Old Town, Dubailand Residence Complex, Green Community (DIP), and Downtown Dubai showed the most promising figures of 4.9 per cent, 4.6 per cent, 4.5 per cent, and 4.4 per cent, respectively.The Sustainable City (4.9 per cent), DAMAC Hills (Akoya) (4.8 per cent), The Villa (4.8 per cent), and Reem (4.7 per cent) remained the popular choices for renting villas.Besides the aforementioned areas Jumeriah, JBR, Arabian Ranches, and Dubai Marina are expected to drive the property market in 2023.“Dubai's position as a leading tourist destination, reformed policies by the government, relaxation in visa rules, and an expat-friendly environment; it’s a combination of all these factors that have helped to make Dubai property market a roaring success. I believe they will continue to contribute to the sector’s success in 2023 as well,” Shobeiry concluded.

ZBC to boost trade volume and business relations with Dubai

 Dubai Chamber of Commerce has supported the establishment of the Zimbabwean Business Council with a main objective of promoting commercial interests of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwean business in Dubai. The business council also aims to promote Zimbabwean owned UAE registered companies as well as their goods and services in the UAE.The launch of the Zimbabwean Business Council is in line with the chamber’s plans to establish new country-specific business councils and expand their roles to boost Dubai’s foreign trade and promote cross-border business opportunities for member companies.“We aim to create new channels of economic cooperation between business communities in the emirate and promising markets around the world. Covering markets of strategic importance to Dubai, business councils provide the right platforms for businesses in the UAE and abroad to connect, collaborate and build mutually beneficial partnerships. These councils will support us as we further expand our presence across Africa, Latin America and the Middle East and attract more companies and investment from these regions,” said Maha AlGargawi, Executive Director of Business Advocacy at Dubai Chambers.Commenting on the establishment of the new business council, Rungano Innocent Nyaude, one of the founding members of the council said, “The Zimbabwean Business Council in the UAE looks to play a pivotal role in growing the Dubai-Zimbabwe business relations by bringing together Zimbabwean businesses operating in Dubai, building an ecosystem of coordination and networking which will in turn build further trade corridors between the UAE and Zimbabwe. The UAE is Zimbabwe’s second largest export destination market and through coordination with stakeholders, it is our mission to play a part in strengthening the trade relations between the two countries and grow the business footprint of Zimbabweans in the UAE.”Bilateral trade between UAE and Zimbabwe witnessed strong growth between 2019 to 2021. UAE imports from Zimbabwe reached US$ 2.3 billion in 2021 compared to US$ 1.5 billion in 2020 and US$ 904 million in 2019, while UAE exports to Zimbabwe accounted at US$ 209 million in 2021. Main products of trade between the two countries are precious stones and metals. The new business council will further strengthen burgeoning trade relations between Zimbabwean companies and the business community with other companies in the UAE, contributing to an increase in trade volume between the two countries.The establishment of the Zimbabwean Business Council is a collaborative effort in improving the ease of doing business in Dubai in addition to creating a supportive, enabling and world-class business environment in the emirate.

GFH’s ratings upgraded by S&P to ‘B’ on resilient business

GFH Financial Group B.S.C (“GFH” or “the Group”) today announced that S&P Global Ratings raised its long-term issuer credit rating to ‘B’ from ‘B-‘, Outlook Stable. At the same time, the agency also raised the credit ratings on sukuk issued by GFH Sukuk Company Ltd to ‘B’ from ‘B-‘.The Group’s ratings upgrade is said to reflect GFH's strong business and financial performance. The report noted that GFH’s revenue has proved resilient over the 2020-2022 period as well as noting that return on equity has improved to 8.6% over the first nine months of 2022. Despite pressure on the Group’s treasury activities from rising interest rates, the report also cited GFH’s ability to have delivered good investment banking revenue, building on its real estate specialization in Europe and the U.S. and steady commercial banking performance after a restructuring in 2020. The stable outlook, according to S&P, reflects its view that GFH can reduce its exposure to real estate assets while maintaining moderate capitalisation over the next 12-18 months.S&P went on to highlight that the macroeconomic environment will continue to support GFH's activities. The report expects that oil prices will remain high through 2023-2024, which would support abundant liquidity in the Gulf Cooperation Council region. In turn, this is expected to keep demand for alternative investments elevated, support commercial banking, and likely keep regional money markets relatively stable despite higher interest rates.The steady divestment of GFH’s real estate activities was also a contributing factor to the ratings upgrade. Following the spinoff of Infracorp, S&P noted that the Group has successfully reduced its exposure to real estate.Commenting, Mr. Salem Patel, Chief Investment Officer, Debt and Capital Markets at GFH, said, “We’re pleased to announce S&P’s upgraded ratings for the Group and ongoing market recognition of the strength of GFH’s business and the steps we have taken to further enhance our results and financial position. Despite challenging market conditions, our performance across each of our core business lines has remained resilient, enabling us to deliver solid returns for the Group, our shareholders and investors. We will continue to build on this momentum and strong demand for our unique and well-diversified investments.”

DXB expected to welcome around 2 million passengers over holiday season

Dubai International (DXB) will remain exceptionally busy over the remainder of the holiday season and well into the New Year, with nearly 2 million passengers expected to pass through DXB.The operator urged passengers to plan their trips to and through the airport and follow simple travel tips to ensure a smooth airport experience.DXB’s average daily passenger numbers have risen almost back to pre-pandemic levels on the back of strong recovery throughout 2022, making this latest seasonal peak one of busiest since 2019. Over the next eight days starting 27th December, nearly 2 million passengers are expected to pass through DXB, with average daily traffic reaching as many as 245,000 passengers. 2nd January is expected to be the busiest day with traffic exceeding 257,000 passengers.December has been exceptionally busy for DXB due to a combination of factors including the seasonal influx of visitors, the recently concluded World Cup football event in Doha, and the strength of Dubai’s position as one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.Dubai Airports is working closely with airlines, control authorities, and commercial and service partners to ensure a smooth airport experience for arriving and departing passengers. The operator has urged travellers to follow a few simple tips to beat the holiday rush:- For those travelling with families, children over the age of 12 can use Smart Gates to speed up the passport control process.- The roads to the airport could get busy during peak times. It’s best to plan some extra time to get to and through the airport.- Travellers flying out of Terminal 1 should arrive at the airport no earlier than 3 hours before departure.- Use online and self-service options wherever available to get off to a smooth start to your journey.- Those travelling from Terminal 3 can use Emirate's convenient early and self-service check-in facilities.- Weighing luggage at home, checking documents in advance, and being prepared for security checks can save a lot of time at the airport.- Use the Dubai Metro to get to and from the airport. Dubai Metro, which has stations at DXB’s Terminal 1 and Terminal 3, will be operational round the clock from 31st December, 2022, to 1st January, 2023.- Friends and families are advised to use the airport’s designated car parks or valet service to receive their guests in comfort as access to the arrival forecourt in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 are limited to public transport and other authorised vehicles.

Dubai to ring in the New Year with dazzling fireworks

Dubai is all set to welcome the New Year with dazzling fireworks displays in 30 locations across the city, headline concerts featuring superstars, a stellar entertainment line-up, family-friendly activities and spectacular drone shows. Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) and Dubai Calendar, the official guide for events in the city, have joined hands to provide a round-up of the best celebrations that make the city one of the world’s best destinations to ring in 2023.Spectacular fireworks displaysEpic fireworks shows will take place throughout the city at a number of popular hotels, tourist destinations and public spaces. As the clock strikes midnight, the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, will present an awe-inspiring spectacle. In addition to this, an array of other well-known Dubai landmarks will be exhibiting their own displays to mark the occasion, including The Dubai Frame, Bluewaters, The Beach, JBR and Burj Al Arab.Celebrations taking place in over 30 picturesque locations throughout Dubai include a breath-taking show at Atlantis, The Palm. The city’s golf courses will also be popular destinations to enjoy New Year’s Eve festivities. Jumeirah Golf Estates Golf & Country Club, Emirates Golf Club, Montgomerie Golf Club Dubai, Arabian Ranches Golf Club and Topgolf Dubai will be hosting a number of activities, parties and fireworks displays.The New Year celebrations being held in the city are among the key #DubaiDestinations experiences that residents and visitors can enjoy amidst the wonderful winter weather.Dubai’s sandy beaches will also be part of the action, with iconic beachside destinations such as Palm West Beach and Club Vista Mare offering opportunities to partake in the seasonal festivities. Similarly, a host of Dubai’s best resorts will be hosting their own fireworks displays, events and parties to mark the coming of 2023. These include Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai, One&Only Royal Mirage, JA Beach Hotel - Jebel Ali, Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort, One&Only The Palm, Sofitel Dubai The Palm, Palazzo Versace Dubai, Park Hyatt Dubai, Bulgari Resort Dubai and Four Seasons Resort Dubai, Jumeirah Beach.Families can choose from a number of destinations to enjoy colourful exhibitions and seasonal extravaganzas: Dubai Creek, Al Seef, Global Village, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Dubai Festival City Mall and Town Square by Nshama. Alternatively, families and groups of all ages can opt for a unique desert experience to ring in the New Year at the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Al Khayma Desert Camp.Drone showsVisitors and residents can also look forward to the DSF Drones Light Show at Bluewaters and The Beach, JBR, with shows at 8.00 PM and 11.00 PM. The free-to-watch performances involve hundreds of drones entertaining crowds with spectacular lights and displaying patterns and messages in the night-sky. Diners can pitch up for a front row seat at the multitude of restaurants in the area.Also lighting up the city is the Dubai Lights exhibition, with stunning artistic light installations from leading artists in this media on display at City Walk 2, The Pointe Nakheel Mall, and Dubai Design District.Celebrity concertsOne of Australia’s most famous singers of all time, Kylie Minogue, is set to headline a concert at Atlantis, The Palm during the final hours of 2022. The theme for this year’s gala is A Night with the Stars and, apart from Minogue’s performance, the resort will provide a front-row seat to watch one of Dubai’s biggest fireworks displays as the clock strikes midnight. Multi-award-winning artist, Enrique Iglesias, will perform live at the trendy beach-side spot, Naamos on 31 December. The celebrated singer will be joined by the well-known Cuban reggaeton duo Gente De Zona.The biggest names from the Sudanese entertainment industry will be performing a musical extravaganza on 31 December featuring pop music queen Nada Al-Qalaa, hitmaker Taha Suliman and Maghrebi pop band MarSimba.New Year’s Eve at Burj Al Arab will provide visitors with a Michelin-starred dining experience and performances of ballads like Samba Belogo Motylka, Prityagenia Bolshe Net and Heaven by award-winning artist Valery Meladze. At the stroke of midnight, visitors can step out on the terrace for a panoramic view of the dazzling fireworks.The legendary Russian boy band Ivanushki International will be putting on a live act of their top tracks like Zolotye Oblaka and Beznadega Tochka Ru. New Year revellers can also head to The Theatre Dubai for the Big Art Festival’s exclusive gala dinner and festivities for the entire family.The night will also see performances by Nigerian-Swedish artist Dr. Alban, Danish pop star Tomas Nevergreen, Dutch band Ten Sharp, Russian stand-up comedian Artur Pirozhkov, Illusionist Graf Voronin and TV presenter Pavel Volya. Visitors can also groove to DJ Zamir's party hits and children can stay engaged with interactive games and activities.Unique experiencesAt Dubai Opera, one of the city’s most iconic entertainment venues, a Disco till Dawn-themed celebration will unfold with performances from internationally-acclaimed dancing duo Jasmine & Aaron of Britain's Got Talent. At the stroke of midnight, guests will be ushered outside to the promenade to witness the legendary Burj Khalifa fireworks.For more information, please visit and

Khaleeji Commercial Bank introduces payment service via “Samsung Wallet”

Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain: Khaleeji Commercial Bank (KHCB), one of the leading Islamic banks in the Kingdom of Bahrain, has recently introduced a payment service via “Samsung Wallet” to its Credit and Debit Card Holders. This new service ensures high security and privacy, as well as provides a swift and seamless payment option for users of Samsung smart devices. Moreover, this step comes in line with the Bank’s continuous pursuit of creativity and innovation through building the foundations of digital transformation and applying the latest in financial technology.Commenting on this occasion, Mr. Osama Ali Nasr, Chief Technology Officer, stated: “This payment service via “Samsung Wallet” is a convenient and simple way to pay via mobile phone using Samsung smart devices. This service provides a quick and easy payment experience, as it adds a high level of security to clients’ payment information by relying on advanced coding technology. This service will allow the bank's clients to make secure and fast purchases, enabling them to make payments by simply swiping their Samsung smart device over POS terminals or while shopping online, creating a fast and secure shopping experience.”Explaining further, Mr. Osama added: “We are delighted to introduce the payment service via “Samsung Wallet” to our valued clients, as it reflects our keenness to take proactive steps towards providing the latest technologies, while ensuring the highest levels of user data protection. The addition of this new service comes in line with the bank's constant endeavours to develop our banking experience to valued clients, as well as achieve their aspirations to obtain a wide range of innovative banking products and services.”KHCB is a leading Islamic bank that strives to achieve clients' aspirations through an Islamic banking model that offers a comprehensive range of high quality Shari'a-complaint banking services and investment opportunities to individuals and companies.

UAE Cybersecurity Council warns against cyber attacks during NY celebrations

- The UAE Cybersecurity Council has warned all public and private institutions, as well as individuals, of the risk of cyber attacks, especially during the New Year celebrations and the holiday season.The council highlighted the need for all authorities and institutions to activate their cyber defence systems and raise the security awareness of individuals about cyber attacks, as well as cooperate with relevant authorities to share relevant information proactively.It also noted that hacking tools have now become easier to use, enabling hackers to take advantage of the holiday season, especially with the increasing dependence on digital services.The council warned of all types of cyber attacks against vital sectors, stressing the importance of adopting cybersecurity policies and protection mechanisms, as well as raising the awareness of public and private institutions and individuals, which will play a key role in protecting the community against malicious cyber attacks.The council then pointed out that many countries have witnessed the rapid digital transformation in services and daily transactions, which has increased the risks posed by cyber attacks against various sectors, including electricity, gas and water.

The BIBF hosts annual insurance market dialogue

 The Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF) hosted its annual Insurance Market Dialogue at its headquarters in Bahrain Bay, bringing together C-Level executives, training and technical managers of leading Insurance companies in Bahrain to discuss the latest trends and requirements in training and development for the Insurance sector.The annual forum kicked off with an overview of the BIBF's major programmes and strategic directions for the coming year and introduced its latest initiatives in partnership with international organisations and awarding bodies. The forum also highlighted the institute’s noteworthy achievements and the effective role it plays in meeting the training needs of the insurance sector.In addition, the forum focused on direct dialogue with representatives of the insurance sector, in order to ensure that programmes and initiatives are in line with the sector’s needs, which contributes to the development of qualified insurance professionals and enhances the role of the sector in achieving the objectives of the economic vision and enhances its contribution to the GDP.On this occasion, Director of the BIBF, Dr. Ahmed Al-Shaikh, stated, "The BIBF has more than 40 years of experience in the field of training and development, and is working to continuously launch new programmes in partnership with international training bodies, to meet the growing needs in the insurance sector in line with its requirements locally and regionally."On her part, Head of Insurance Centre at the BIBF Ms. Manal Mashkoor, said,” "The BIBF is committed to its primary responsibility of providing the best training programmes for the insurance sector in Bahrain, as we believe that the way to do so is based on maintaining a close connection with the insurance sector based on the sector needs and developing training programmes in cooperation with renowned international partners. The outcomes of this dialogue will play a major role in setting the priorities and plans with regard to the insurance programmes provided at the BIBF."

Bigo Live brings the Arab world together to celebrate regional achievements

 Bigo Live, a leading social livestreaming platform, has provided an ideal platform for football supporters to showcase their skills and share their enthusiasm for the sport since the start of the World Cup this year. The platform featured a variety of unique activities designed to engage football players and fans and encourage them to produce and share original content with other users who share similar interests on Bigo Live’s ‘Community’ feature. The World Cup communities have provided daily football highlights compilations and enabled fans to come together to share their experiences and support for their favourite teams or players. As a result, over 200,000 users on Bigo Live joined regional teams’ communities to share the spirit of football and celebrate the achievements of each country including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Morocco, and Tunisia during the World Cup. Most notably, Morocco’s astounding achievements this World Cup will go down in history as it became the first Arab team to reach the semi-finals and compete against France. The Atlas Lions’ victories during the tournament brought joy to Arabs all over the world, with thousands across the MENA region celebrating online on Bigo Live. As Morocco stunned World Cup favourites Portugal in the quarter-finals of the tournament this year, the number of posts on the Morocco team community increased by roughly 43% in just a week on the platform. Broadcasters on Bigo Live were encouraged to use their creativity to make their videos stand out while forming real-time connections with their viewers in order to diversify content and give users a special glimpse into the football spectacle. Bigo Live enhanced the platform's multi-guest room feature to enable the creation of chat rooms for up to 500 people to share their enthusiasm for the global event in real time, fostering more positive interactions and allow fans to gather and participate in football discussions. Bigo Live recorded the largest peak in conversations on December 6, 2022, during the Morocco vs. Spain match, which garnered great interest from the region. Having a strong regional presence, Bigo Live strives to create diverse and compelling content that appeals to local communities. In this effort, the company continues to invest in enhancing user experiences for Arab audiences throughout the MENA region. Accordingly, the platform is preferred by Arabic football fans as they find it easier to access, allows them to follow their passion, interact with their favourite broadcasters, and allows them to participate in the region's expanding football communities in their own local language. Bigo Live invited well-known footballing personalities such as Mohammed Awaad (Bigo ID: mohammedawaad) and Naseem Kora (Bigo ID: sportcafe) to provide in-depth match analysis and discuss football strategies during their live streams of the games in order to highlight the platform's support for regional creators and content. Football fans delighted in engaging with the personalities in real time and answering football trivia questions while learning more about their expertise thanks to the platform's highly interactive nature of the platform. “The performance of national teams from the Arab region during this year’s World Cup have been absolutely phenomenal. Football is known for its ability to bring people from across the world together and football fans from Arab World are some of the most passionate in the world. We are delighted to bring the football community together to celebrate this truly unique World Cup on Bigo Live,” said a spokesperson from Bigo Live. “Our users on Bigo Live are encouraged to exchange ideas and interact with people of similar interests from around the world. Morocco’s historic victory will certainly be remembered for ages and be regarded as a showcase of the Arab region’s great football talents. Through the passion of football, we are confident that users of Bigo Live will continue to showcase their talents, share their enthusiasms and inspire each other through real-time interactions while streaming.”In order to give football fans a more immersive experience, Bigo Live's most recent update also allowed users to dress up their personalized 3D avatars with sportswear supporting the regional teams under the platform's Virtual Live feature, in addition with two new exclusive football backgrounds while going live. During the duration of the World Cup, the number of users that tried on football jerseys for live streaming accounted for one-third of the users using male avatars via virtual live.Bigo Live empowers users across the MENA region with various tools to manage and host captivating and enriching live streams. Users are encouraged by the diverse meaningful and engaging content available and display of creativity through which broadcasters share their skills and talents on Bigo Live to build and nurture meaningful connections with millions across the world.

TAWAL looks to the future of smart city innovation with FTTT and CaaS

TAWAL, the leading integrated ICT infrastructure provider in the Kingdom, has launched Fiber To The Tower (FTTT) and Coverage as a Service (CaaS) as new products developed by Commercial Portfolio Department of the Commercial Sector and adding them to TAWAL’s innovative products portfolio. Supporting the increased data traffic and high-density demand of 5G networks and IoT functions, the new offering will enable service providers to deliver next-generation networks and technologies and powering the future of smart city innovations.The FTTT solution, which will come in two models — the “FTTT Links Model” and “Fiber Facility Access Model” — has been launched to empower the people, communities, and entities that TAWAL supports. It will do so by connecting existing fiber infrastructure within the provider’s sites to their core network. This will help increasing efficiency and lowering costs. It will also provide added reliability and access to more advanced capabilities utilizing higher bandwidth. The launch of the FTTT proposition marks the latest step taken by TAWAL to accelerate the Kingdom’s roll-out of current and future technologies. It bolsters the provider’s offerings and underlines its commitment to enhancing the connectivity of its network of towers across the country.While Coverage as a Service (CaaS), which is a supplementary product that TAWAL provides on top of Lite Built-to-Suit and In-Building Solution products, through which, TAWAL provides a full-fledged telecom infrastructure solution to end clients, that includes passive and active equipment, in partnership with mobile network operators.  This solution will assist mobile network operators in providing mobile coverage to TAWAL’s end clients in remote or temporary areas by bridging the gap between them through this add-on service by providing the necessary business facilitation for Mobile Network Operators to provide and operate their active equipment on TAWAL’s infrastructure. These characteristics make this solution ideal for a wide range of clients, including under-development mega projects, hotels, farms, and industrial sites.CaaS also aims to extend the coverage by easing the financial barriers for the MNOs for a widened network while the risk is minimal, reduce capital investments by facilitating telecom equipment costs which can be directed to high-priority investments, optimize operational costs through end-customer subsidies, attract new customers at minimal customer acquisition costs and ensure an enhanced customer experience by improving network coverage.Abdulrahman Al Moaiqel, Chief Commercial Officer, TAWAL, said, “As the Kingdom’s leading integrated ICT infrastructure provider and the first tower company in Saudi Arabia, TAWAL is fully committed to pioneering advanced offerings that promote efficiency and effectiveness. We are delighted to unveil a suite of inventive, new solutions that will empower Mobile Network Operators, businesses, and government sector to do just that.”The leading integrated ICT infrastructure provider in the Kingdom and first tower company in Saudi Arabia, TAWAL has long been committed to empowering Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), businesses and government authorities to operate more efficiently and effectively. As part of this mission, the provider continues to innovate new products that will play a key role in the development of the Kingdom’s smart cities.

BeIN sports announces record-breaking cumulative viewership

 beIN MEDIA GROUP (“beIN”) is marking a World Cup victory of its own by revealing record viewership figures for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. beIN recorded more than 5.4 billion cumulative views throughout the month-long tournament on its flagship channel beIN SPORTS across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and 1.1 billion views on its official social media channels.The highly anticipated final match that ended with Argentina becoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ winners with a 4-2 victory on penalties against France, was watched by a staggering 242.8 million viewers on beIN SPORTS’ free-to-air channel. This figure equates to 68%, more than two-thirds, of the MENA’s total adult population and, when analysed per country, results show viewership was particularly strong in Qatar where 93% of the adult population tuned in. In Morocco 91% of adults watched, followed by Lebanon (89%), Algeria (79%), and Egypt (72%). Meanwhile, on its official YouTube channel, the final match drew in a cumulative viewership of 25 million with viewership peaking at 4.44 million during the penalty shootouts.The overall viewership across beIN’s 24-country coverage area across MENA for all matches is a 135% increase compared with the Qatar-based network’s broadcast of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018™. The final of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ attracted 88 million more viewers on beIN SPORTS than the final of FIFA World Cup Russia 2018™. Average TV viewership per match throughout the tournament saw a significant rise in 2022 reaching 80.6 million, compared to that of 36.2 million for 2018’s coverage.Mohammad Al-Subaie, CEO of beIN – MENA, said: “It’s incredibly special for us that the first World Cup in the Middle East has broken regional viewership records with more than 5.4 billion cumulative views across the month-long tournament. This is evidence of the appetite for football and similar tournaments across the Arab World and we are honoured to have been the exclusive rights holder. We are excited to be preparing for many more extensive broadcasts as we continue to inspire, educate, and entertain viewers across MENA.”This year’s tournament – the first held in the Middle East – featured four teams from the Arab World: hosts Qatar, neighboring Saudi Arabia, and North African duo Tunisia and Morocco. Morocco’s Atlas Lions went the deepest, recording landmark victories over Spain and Portugal in the knock-out stages to become the first Arab – and first African – nation to reach a World Cup semi-final.The figures from beIN, the exclusive FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ broadcast rights holder across 24 countries in MENA, show that aside from the final, the semi-final game that saw Morocco lose out on a spot in the final to France, earned record viewership of 186.1 million on beIN SPORTS. That equates to 52% per cent of the adult population in MENA and Iran tuning in for the match. These figures also show that 99% of the adult population of Morocco watched the African nation’s historic match live on beIN SPORTS; 82% of the adult population in Qatar watched the match on beIN SPORTS, 78% in Algeria, 75% in Tunisia, 67% in Lebanon and 63% in KSA.The semi-final decider between Argentina and Croatia, drew in 166.3 million viewers across the region. The semi-final figures represent an increase on the quarter-finals where 151.8 million viewers tuned in to see Morocco’s Youssef En-Nesyri’s towering header eliminate a Portuguese team replete with global superstars including Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, and Ruben Dias.beIN’s social media also posted record numbers with online video views reaching 1.1 billion compared to 121 million in 2018, and an even more impressive 5.5 billion impressions resulting in 400 million interactions (not including SnapChat), compared with 235 million impressions in 2018 that resulted in 40 million interactions.As the Official Broadcast Partner, beIN SPORTS played a central role in showcasing the historic tournament. Offering audiences premium broadcast, analysis, and commentary of each game across its seven channels in four languages, beIN SPORTS’ viewing figures for the month-long tournament underlines the unprecedented appetite of football fans in the region for this historic first staging in the Arab World.

NGN Majlis: Losses from ransomware cost Gulf corporations millions of dollars

NGN International, the security services provider and systems integrator, hosted the fourth and final session of its ‘majlis’ ransomware awareness seminars on the 8th of December at the Arab International Cybersecurity Conference and Exhibition (AICS).The seminar discussed how ransomware infiltrates computer systems and encrypts data to blackmail the victim, and can extend to more than just data breaches for organizations. The speakers made it clear that ransomware attacks can cost companies millions of dollars and result in longer-term losses, particularly when they have an adverse impact on the company's reputation and reliability. Ransomware assaults have shown to be a continual threat to cybersecurity, whether it's major healthcare, retail, or insurance firms.The ransomware awareness session featured many distinguished panellists who represented NGN’s key partners including Mohamad Hashem, Head of Enterprise – KSA & Bahrain at Kaspersky; Mesut Mert, Software Engineer at Veritas; Rami Kayyali, CTO of The Kernal; Mohamed Abdel Kader, Information Security, Manager at Micro Focus; Anas Shunnag, Regional Manager for Sales Engineering at Forcepoint; and Sammy Elyan MSc CISSP, from the Cyber Security Business Development team at Fortinet. The session was moderated by Esmail Jobran, NGN International’s Director of Sales and Marketing and featured the insights of Ilya Leonov, NGN International’s CTO and Yaqoob Al Awadhi, CEO of the NGN Group.Mr Al Awadhi reflected on the success of the four-part ransomware series and on NGN’s participation at AICS saying; “NGN is very proud to have put on such a successful series of majlis which have provided such crucial insights into the threats posed by ransomware. The panellists who spoke at the fourth session imparted some invaluable advice concerning ransomware best practices which will have helped the audience develop their knowledge of this particularly complex form of cyberattack.”“NGN’s participation at the first ever Arab International Cybersecurity Summit has been a resounding success and has enabled us to share our extensive knowledge of forms of cybercrime, network with delegates and develop relationships with other organisations. Our pavilion was the largest at the conference and we were delighted with the engagement of conference attendees who wished to learn more about our services.” Concluded Mr Al Awadhi.A series of four NGN-hosted seminars on ransomware risks and defenses came to a close with the fourth NGN Ransomware Seminar. It fits into the company's framework of NGN's beliefs in its role in spreading awareness about the risks of cyberattacks and is a part of its social responsibility.

Dubai Chamber of Commerce launches Fintech & Payments Business Group

Dubai Chamber of Commerce, one of the three chambers operating under Dubai Chambers has announced the launch of a new Fintech & Payments Business Group aimed at bringing together companies of all sizes within the fintech and payments sector to encourage collegial dialogue, advocate policy change and promote the emirate as a highly competitive global commercial centre.The launch of the new business group is part of the chamber’s plans to increase the number of business groups that represent economic sectors and activities in Dubai, ensuring all industries and economic activities are represented to boost their competitiveness and drive Dubai’s sustainable development.The new Fintech and Payments Business Group will be instrumental in supporting Dubai companies and providing members with key insights and analysis on trends across the fintech ecosystem to leverage policy and regulatory change recommendations and benefit from new financial technology advancements.Commenting on the launch of the business group, Maha AlGargawi, Executive Director of Business Advocacy at Dubai Chambers, said: “Business groups are in important component in creating a supportive, enabling and world-class business environment in Dubai. Through continued transparent discussions, the business group will be able to support essential policy changes that will facilitate and improve the ease of doing business in Dubai and cement the emirate’s position as a dynamic and global business hub.“The new FinTech and Payments Business Group is a great addition to our network of business groups, and we believe it will play a pivotal role in supporting members and the emirate’s private sector to drive FinTech growth and serve as a platform to leverage the vast opportunities in this vital sector.”The Fintech and Payments Business Group will focus on ways to adopt the highest standards in providing businesses financial services and payment solutions.Business groups are reliable advocates for their respective sectors and play a crucial role in recommending policy changes to improve a sector’s competitiveness and attractiveness while promoting international best practices and supporting economic growth. Dubai Chamber of Commerce plans to increase the number of economic sectors and activities represented by business groups to 100 by March 2023.

Stc Bahrain awarded 'Most Innovative Digital Solutions Brand'

stc Bahrain, a world-class digital enabler, has been awarded as the “Most Innovative Digital Solutions Brand” at the Global Brand Magazine’s 10th annual Global Brands Awards in Dubai. The award was presented to stc Bahrain for its role at the forefront of driving forward Bahrain’s digital transformation in line with the Kingdom’s Economic Vision 2030. Since its entry into the market, stc Bahrain has been instrumental in revolutionizing the digital landscape by investing heavily in the Kingdom’s digital infrastructure. stc Bahrain has expanded its offerings into new digital areas such as fintech, insuretech, gaming and more to help position the Kingdom as an advanced tech hub in the region.Eng. Nezar Banabeela, CEO of stc Bahrain, commented: “We are honored to receive this prestigious award in recognition of our efforts to advance the Kingdom’s digital transformation journey by introducing new innovative tech solutions to the market and grow our expanding portfolio. The award is a token of our dedication to diversify our offerings, enable the digital economy, and position Bahrain as a digital hub in the region. We hope to continue to work with stakeholders and government partners to advance the Kingdom’s digital offerings.”stc Bahrain received the recognition due to its continuously expanding portfolio that enables new innovative solutions in the Kingdom. We provide a multitude of innovative services such as converged Home offerings (Broadband, Content, Connectivity), fintech solutions through stc Pay a platform that provides on-the-go payment solutions offering several digital money opportunities and expanding its usage through collaboration with banks, remittance companies, financial services providers, and big merchants, in addition to Insuretech services through stc protect with motor insurance, extended warranty to travel insurance and roadside and home assistance is introduced, Gaming and more.Within the past year, stc Bahrain made advancements in the cloud services sector by partnering with Radian Arc to deploy a new point of presence in Bahrain to enhance the Kingdom’s cloud services in the region. Our business fintech solutions have evolved to include stc Tajer and Fleet management and more. Earlier this month, stc Bahrain partnered with Microsoft and cloud solutions provider Crayon to offer Microsoft services to its business customers. stc Bahrain also launched the Kingdom’s first standalone 5G network in partnership with Huawei and launched a dedicated International Network Operations Centre (iNOC), enabling stc to manage wholesale partners’ needs with improved efficiency, quality and SLAs t guarantee shortened response times. Earlier this year, stc Bahrain invested heavily to set up the region’s first data center in collaboration with the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications.

Ooredoo business and Cisco hold a workshop on the latest SMB solutions

Ooredoo business, the trusted technology partner for all business solutions, in collaboration with Cisco held an interactive workshop to shed light on the latest trends and practices related to SMB solutions and how to benefit from them. The workshop was held in Regency Hotel in presence of Ooredoo business customers.These workshops comes as part of Ooredoo’s business efforts to assist it’s small and medium enterprise customers to increase their awareness and knowledge which will contribute to achieving the company goals and lead to building loyalty and trust from their customers. During the workshop, attendees were able to ask questions and exchange their knowledge across.Commenting on this workshop, Sulaiman AlHumoud, Director, Enterprise Planning & Demand at Ooredoo Kuwait, said: “The partnership between Ooredoo and Cisco provides our customers with networking solutions, Internet of Things (IoT), data center, cloud and computing, and security solutions to meet the needs of businesses in Kuwait market”. He added, “We at Ooredoo business will continue on organizing such effective workshops for our customers to enable them achieve their goals in the market”.It is worth mentioning that Ooredoo business has achieved recently the “Security Partner of the Year” award from Cisco which indicates that Ooredoo Kuwait is providing the best and distinguished solutions to protect its customer’s information.

Bloomberg has no interest in acquiring Dow Jones or Washington Post

 Bloomberg L.P. has no interest in acquiring either Dow Jones or the Washington Post, a Bloomberg L.P. spokesman said in a tweet today."There have been no conversations with anyone or either organization about an acquisition," spokesman Ty Trippet said in the tweet, which was retweeted by billionaire owner Michael Bloomberg, according to Reuters.News website Axios reported on Friday that Bloomberg was interested in acquiring either Wall Street Journal parent company Dow Jones from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, or the Washington Post from's Jeff Bezos, citing a source familiar with Bloomberg's thinking.On Friday, citing sources, Reuters reported Michael Bloomberg had expressed a desire to own a big-name newspaper over the years but had not reached out to Murdoch to discuss a possible purchase of Dow Jones and its flagship paper the Journal.A spokesperson for the Washington Post, which Bezos bought in 2013 for $250 million, said on Friday it was not for sale.Antitrust experts agreed the merger of Bloomberg and Dow Jones business news divisions would draw the scrutiny of U.S. regulators, especially as the Biden administration has taken a more muscular approach to enforcing antitrust laws.Reuters, part of Thomson Reuters Corp, competes with Dow Jones and Bloomberg News, a unit of Bloomberg L.P., a provider of financial news.

Cloudflare publishes top internet trends for 2022

“Cloudflare has built one of the world’s largest networks that offers a unique view of Internet traffic and online activity around the world,” said Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare. “The world continues to rely on the Internet, and we are humbled to have been able to do our part to keep the world connected through protests, conflicts, and natural disasters in 2022. It’s a privilege to help build a better, more transparent and more informed Internet.”This data comes from Cloudflare Radar, a free tool that lets anyone view global trends and insights across the Internet. Radar is powered by data from Cloudflare’s global network (one of the world’s largest, spanning 275+ cities in 100+ countries), and aggregated and anonymized data from Cloudflare’s public DNS Resolver, widely used as a fast and private way to browse the Internet.

Emaar malls rings in the festive season with a host of incredible experiences

Dubai Mall, Dubai Hills Mall, and Dubai Marina Mall are ringing in the 2022 festive season and 28th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival with breathtaking festive illuminations, unbelievable deals, and fantastic promotions starting 15 December 2022.For this joyous season, Emaar has decked up the malls with illuminating décor ensuring to spread the festive cheer. Visitors strolling through Dubai Mall can expect to be awed by the beauty of lights and dazzling decorations spread out across various levels and locations. Witness the sparkling ornaments hanging from the ceilings along every corridor to the grand, elegantly shimmering chandelier in the Fashion Dome.Shoppers can also snap a selfie with Rudolph, who can be spotted at the iconic Dubai Mall Waterfall – a perfect backdrop for a family photograph. Also located along the promenade is a life-sized ornament, perfectly wrapped in season’s colours and surrounded by stars to encapsulate the most magical time of the year.Guests at Souk Al Bahar will be welcomed through a beautifully adorned entryway brought to life by illuminated snowflakes, lights, and more, creating the most ideal photo moment. Pedestrians and drivers passing through Downtown Dubai can revel in an array of stars, ornaments, leaping reindeers, golden stags and sparkling dandelions, all adorning the streets of the heart of Dubai.At Dubai Hills Mall, visitors looking for an impromptu festive-themed photoshoot can capture a picture right under the cluster of glimmering trees, a magnificent set-up of an Instagram-worthy festive tree, giant baubles which you can sit inside of, and an unmissable 7 feet tall reindeer decked up in golden lights.Shoppers can also head over to Dubai Marina Mall, where the scene is set with magnificently ornated trees located in the Dome Atrium and along the promenade.This year, Emaar Malls have also raised the bar with an even more incredible retail experience than last year as Dubai Shopping Festival, the most anticipated shopping event of the year, returns to its three leading lifestyle destinations, Dubai Mall, Dubai Hills Mall, and Dubai Marina Mall.From 15 December to 29 January, guests at Emaar Malls can enjoy an incredible range of purchases with unbelievable discounts across beauty, fashion, technology, home brands, and many more product ranges. Shoppers looking for the perfect gifts this season can take advantage of these promotions and purchase terrific presents for their friends and family.Adding to the incredible lineup of unmissable benefits available for shoppers this festive season, Shop Now, Pay Later, Emaar Mall’s iconic partnership programme with Emirates NBD, valid until 31 December.Whether it’s purchasing the latest fashion trends, dining at one of the esteemed restaurants, or exploring one of many entertainment attractions located in any of the malls, Emirates NBD U by Emaar card holders can enjoy three to six-month interest-free instalments on all purchases above AED 500.

42 Abu Dhabi celebrates year of empowering coders

42 Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital’s innovative and disruptive coding school that offers a unique peer-to-peer, gamified learning methodology, celebrated its first anniversary.The School highlighted its remarkable achievements in empowering learners to shape the digital future of Abu Dhabi by making coding education accessible to people from all walks of life.Since its launch in October 2021, 42 Abu Dhabi has enrolled 340 students, including 100 UAE national students. With flexibility being a key pillar of 42 Abu Dhabi’s learning methodology, the School is open 24 hours a day, giving students ownership of their learning journey through its peer-to-peer model.42 Abu Dhabi collaborated with leading organisations and companies across different industries and sectors to identify and develop opportunities which contribute to its success.This year, 358 job and internship opportunities were offered to 42 Abu Dhabi students, including 109 sponsorships for the UAE national students as a result of the successful network of partners that the school has built.Dr. Ahmed Al Shoaibi, Acting Executive Director-Higher Education Sector at Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) said: “One year ago, we launched 42 Abu Dhabi under Abu Dhabi’s Ghadan 21 accelerator programme to complement the emirate’s world-class educational ecosystem, and introduce the school’s unique learning methodology to the emirate education ecosystem. Today we mark a new milestone of making coding education accessible to people from all walks of life”.“In one year, we have made impressive strides toward realizing Abu Dhabi’s strategic vision to create a diverse and inclusive educational experience that empowers a future-ready generation of lifelong learners who can lead our future knowledge-based economy. 42 Abu Dhabi has seen huge demand, boasting impressive enrollment figures. We have also developed a strong strategic partner network that continues to play a vital role in supporting our objectives in developing our school as Abu Dhabi’s talent incubator, enabling us to foster a culture of entrepreneurship and develop the Emirate’s education sector”, he added.Marcos Muller Habig, Acting CEO of 42 Abu Dhabi, said: “Today, we reflect on 42 Abu Dhabi's journey in successfully being an agent of change. We will continue to break the limits of traditional learning by implementing our peer-to-peer model, where we enable our students to acquire coding skills through our project-based, gamified independent learning methodology. This is coupled with our unwavering efforts to bring 42 Abu Dhabi future coders together through engaging events that build on the 21st century skills required to decode their potential, opening the door to infinite possibilities and making significant contributions to realising the vision of Abu Dhabi”.“Our successful journey over the past year emphasises 42 Abu Dhabi’s influential role in fostering a digitally aware and driven generation of coders who are technically skilled and push the limits of digital innovation. This year, we achieved our target of providing sponsorships for every UAE national student in 42 Abu Dhabi. In the upcoming year, we will work on expanding our partners’ network to ensure that we continue to provide sponsorships and stipends for every UAE national that joins our school,” he added.The anniversary celebration was attended by 42 Abu Dhabi’s students and staff.During the event, 42 Abu Dhabi organised digital activations to engage attendees and foster interactions between the students, including a Motion Vending game, Digital Caricaturist, 360 Photo Booth and a Scavenger hunt.Students were encouraged to reflect the school’s pride and success by highlighting their favourite aspects of 42 Abu Dhabi on a dedicated wall, which also included 45 selected quotes from their peers. This served as an inspiration for the event’s attendees and enhanced the sense of belonging among the 42 Abu Dhabi community.42 Abu Dhabi honoured the students who have gone the extra mile to develop their skills and excel over the past year, as well as its exceptional staff. In addition, the school recognized the winner of the 42Art competition, which was established ahead of the event to empower 42 Abu Dhabi’s students to showcase their artistic talents and skills by creating and submitting digital art pieces.42 Abu Dhabi is an innovative and disruptive coding school, launched in 2020 as an initiative of the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) and Abu Dhabi’s Ghadan 21 accelerator programme, which aims to drive Abu Dhabi’s ongoing development through multi-faceted investments in business, innovation and people.

Take trip down memory lane with DSF’s newest event Dubai 80s

A unique pop-up event organised as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) is inviting people to experience a nostalgic recreation of Dubai in the 80s.A new addition to the DSF, organised by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), the 10-day event, held at the Last Exit Al Khawaneej, transports visitors into a visual representation of Dubai in the 80’s and early 90s.The event is one of a series of attractions and experiences featured in the #DubaiDestinations winter campaign.The Dubai 80s event aims to capture the moment in time when Dubai was on the cusp of pivotal change.Apart from being a defining era globally, the 80s were a decade that raised Dubai and the UAE’s profile on the international map. It was a time when the country embarked on a transformative journey that made it a leading global city.Dubai 80s will explore the defining era of the city’s past, with vintage photo galleries showing pictures of Dubai before its transformation into a global metropolis, photo booths, shows, anime and live performances, old-school gaming arcades, and classic cars, all offering a blast from the past.“The event is an attempt to create a heart-warming experience of life in the decade that was a turning point in Dubai’s history. Dubai 80s invites visitors to look back and reflect on a decade in which the seeds of our current prosperity and growth were sown. Looking back, especially at the 80s and early 90s, is fascinating as this was such a transformational era for Dubai,” said Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment."Dubai developed rapidly within the span of just a few years. The creation of the city’s modern skyline, its huge festivals, and its remarkable growth as a tourist destination all started from the 80s, which is why we wanted to highlight this specific era.”On arrival at the pop-up event, visitors will take a giant leap back in time, strolling through a main entrance with a vintage Emirati house that gives them the experience of entering an 80’s neighbourhood, redolent with spices and old music in the air.Visitors will come face-to-face with memorabilia, including 90s cell phones, swatch watches, Gameboys, old encyclopedias and floppy disks, vintage televisions and retro cassette players, gadgets that defined a generation.Guests can explore a vintage photo gallery display for a trip down memory lane, with snapshots from local artists depicting Dubai in all its past glory before its emergence as the futuristic city of today.Visitors can also retrace their childhood memories and explore comic books and cartoons that defined a generation before Marvel and DC Comics moved to the big screen. Revisiting a time when Dubai had its own superhero fanbase, visitors have the chance to re-experience their favourite comic book heroes and watch screenings of anime and animated clips from popular movies.They will also get the opportunity to explore the Gaming Arcade, built as a nostalgic 90s themed arcade with vintage arcade machines, featuring all-time favourite games such as Tetris, Mario Kart, Space Invaders, and many more. A display of classic cars will bring back memories of the automobiles of yesteryear. Visitors will also get the chance to win a host of daily prizes."This is so much more than a pop-up concept, but a whole heart-warming experience,” he added. "There is something that will resonate with everyone, from Emiratis to residents who have lived here for years," explained Al Khaja.Dubai 80s will take place at the Last Exit Al Khawaneej from 23rd December to 8th January from 4.00 pm to 11.00 pm, with free access to everyone.The 28th edition of Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), which runs until 29th January 2023, features shopping attractions, innovative events, world-class entertainment and life-changing prizes.Featuring the ultimate retail therapy from a wide range of home-grown and global brands as well as live concerts, outdoors markets, pop-up dining and more.

Dubai hosts a regional convening on Artificial Intelligence and healthcare

The Jameel Clinic, the epicentre of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), hosted yesterday a one-day conference titled ‘AI Cures MENASA: Clinical AI and data solutions for health’, in partnership with the UAE Artificial Intelligence Office, Community Jameel, and Wellcome. Held at the Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai, the conference was attended by H.E. Omar Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications.The conference brought together pioneers in AI and health from the Jameel Clinic, including MacArthur ‘genius grant’ Fellows Professor Regina Barzilay and Professor Dina Katabi, Dr Adam Yala and Dr Shrooq Alsenan, a Jameel Clinic research fellow from Saudi Arabia, together with representatives from major hospitals and public health agencies across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (MENASA) region. The conference marks the first international venture of ‘AI Cures’, the Jameel Clinic’s platform for collaboration that launched in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.Fady Jameel, vice chairman of Community Jameel, said: “We are excited to be able to help bring together such an inspiring gathering of scientists, policymakers, public health officials and hospital leaders at the Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai. The work of the Jameel Clinic has the potential to transform healthcare for millions of people around the world, and we are excited to see the Jameel Clinic AI Hospital Network expanding in the MENASA region and rolling out clinical AI tools around the world for equitable impact for all.”Professor Regina Barzilay, AI faculty lead at the Jameel Clinic, said: “Ensuring that the cutting-edge clinical AI research being done at MIT can be utilised in diverse clinical settings is critical to our mission at the Jameel Clinic. We look forward to combining the expertise of Jameel Clinic researchers with the expertise of local clinicians and public health officials in the MENASA region to maximise the impact of clinical AI tools on patient lives.”Tariq Khokhar, head of data for science & health at Wellcome, said: “AI tools have an exciting role to play in transforming healthcare for patients around the world and advancing health research. But first, researchers, policymakers, clinicians and healthcare managers must work together to test them in diverse settings rigorously, so we know they work for different people and under different circumstances. This will ensure they’re safe for everyone and maximise their potentially life-saving potential.”

The role of female entrepreneurs and investors in driving economic value

Female investors have a role to play in steering economic sustainability by supporting female entrepreneurs, according to Ghada Abdelkader, Senior VP at Crescent Enterprises, a leading global, diversified business headquartered in the United Arab Emirates.Representing Crescent Enterprises' corporate venture capital platform, CE-Ventures at the 6th Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival, Ghada Abdelkader said progress is being made to address the gender disparity in the investment sector with more focus needed, "Globally, Venture Capital (VC) firms are focusing on improving their Diversity and Inclusion practices as more firms clearly understand the business case. However, the pace of change is still slow”."It is generally more challenging to make substantial changes when the change requires a complete revamp of the mindset and strategies that have been followed for years. For example, we frequently evaluate global funds that boast an integrated gender diversity strategy. Yet, when we look at the teams, we find that, predominantly, decision-makers tend to be male," Ms Abdelkader added.  The discussion highlighted the unique opportunities both female entrepreneurs and investors pose for economic sustainability. However, female entrepreneurs are still underfunded, with only 2% of funding distributed to females in the US and 1% in the Middle East and North Africa region. Similarly, the representation of female investors in the US is also low, with 8-10% of GPs female, and only 2% of which are founding females, a figure even lower in the MENA region.However, it's not about suddenly investing in all women-led businesses. Instead, it's more about removing the unconscious bias from the investment decision-making process, which the MENA region has better embraced due to the relative emergent nature of the ecosystem. "I'm more optimistic for the MENA region landscape due to the relatively nascent VC ecosystem and the fact that women investors were a vital part of this ecosystem when it started. While the gender lens investing VCs are making strides in advancing the gender equity agenda, I believe it's on the non-GLI investors to build a more conducive and welcoming environment for women-led startups and founders," Ghada said.She also emphasised that investments are evaluated on the merits of the opportunity and the challenges they address, but that profit, and purpose can co-exist.“At CE-Ventures, we look to invest across sectors, with tech-enabled solutions being a core concentration. Over the past 5 years, we have invested in the areas of foodtech, fintech, and edutech as examples. Our investment philosophy is one that focuses on companies that are solving real problems, scaling globally, and that are using technology as a competitive advantage in solving the given problem.”Ghada Abdelkader made her comments during the session 'Female Investors and their Impact on the Industry' and was joined by other speakers, including Sheikha Al Mheiri, Chairwoman, Fortitude Holding and Olga Fleming, Investor and Serial Entrepreneur, and moderated by Heather Henyon, Founding Partner, Mindshift Capital.The panel was part of Sheraa's 6th Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival 2022 under the theme 'Where we Belong', which took place at Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park under the patronage of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa). As a founding partner and supporter of Sheraa, Crescent Enterprises is committed to supporting entrepreneurs and developing an environment for innovation to thrive. During the festival, CE-Creates’ joint venture, hatch & boost Ventures showcased its latest portfolio businesses; World of Farming, a homegrown AgriTech company that creates smart farming solutions to aid and support food security challenges; and BreakBread, a digital platform aimed at connecting food enthusiasts, hosts, and talented cooks through home-cooked meals.

Grand opening of the NFT shop in Dubai and the MENA Region

ftNFT is an NFT Marketplace operating within the Fastex ecosystem powered by SoftConstruct. Home to over 8 brands, SoftConstruct offers cutting-edge IT solutions to different industries. Subsequently, the aim to level up transparency between businesses and communities led the giant tech to an ecosystem that encompasses blockchain technology. Now the Fastex ecosystem with its ftNFT marketplace intends to be a trend away from what is ordinary by having the first-ever NFT shops in the MENA region.On 22 December 2022, the ftNFT marketplace officially brought its virtual ventures into the non-virtual world by opening the first NFT shop in Dubai. The shop now welcomes its international enthusiasts at the Mall of the Emirates, one of the most popular retail and entertainment destinations in the UAE.The opening ceremony took place last Thursday with well-known Emirati faces among the attendance. Artists, influencers, and public figures carrying enthusiasm all along with the novel experiences promised by the ftNFT marketplace turned the event into a major landmark in the history of NFTs. Many prominent figures were invited to share their thoughts and insight. In addition, artists whose collections played a leading role in having a physical NFT shop made speeches and inspired many more to follow their leads.The shop is a display of collections by Amrita Sethi, AKNEYE, and many more. The first NFT artist in the UAE, Amrita Sethi’s work is an alliance between physical and digital arts. The award-winning artist crafts multimedia dynamic forms of art through sound, storytelling and augmented reality merged in physical art, NFTs and fashion. Moreover, her role as a thought leader in the Web3 space has become a source of inspiration to many. AKNEYE on the other hand is a platform that brings international artists together with a vision. Known for its distinctive sculpture collection of eyes, AKNEYE is now making a groundbreaking move to the virtual world by making its sculptures available in the form of NFTs.From a casual walk in the gallery to a 3D scanner that makes avatars for virtual reality lovers, the shop offers more than just an ordinary shopping experience. The very notion of having a physical shop was all about encouraging creativity in solid technological platforms where all the attention is on the trading side of this game. The ftNFT shop gives everyone equal opportunities to craft and personalize NFTs that can be either picked up by the five senses or experienced virtually. In other words, this is the place where the borderline separating traditional and digital art fades away.The shop found its rightful place in the Mall of Emirates thanks to the construction that Impact Group completed together with the designers from SoftConstruct. Established in 1988, in Lebanon, the Impact Group Co is an architecture company that carries out innovative and premium-quality projects on time for world-class businesses and brands.Through its first-of-its-kind shops in the MENA region, the ftNFT marketplace is shaping a community of artists, enthusiasts, and potential investors to create, buy, and sell NFTs.

Annual Spending on Digital Transformation across the Middle East

Digital transformation investments in the Middle East, Türkiye, and Africa (META) are set to more than double across the 2021–2026 period, according to the latest forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC). The global technology research, consulting, and events firm says that digital transformation spending in the region will accelerate at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16% over the five-year period, topping $74 billion in 2026 and accounting for 43.2% of all ICT investments made that year."For many organizations, the digital and tech investments they made during the pandemic to build resilience could be put to test in 2023 across key business dimensions such as customer experience, operations, and financial management, among others," says Jyoti Lalchandani, IDC's group vice president and regional managing director for the META region. "The implementation of further digitalization in critical areas and a more rapid shift to a 'digital business' approach will be key to separating the thrivers from the survivors."No matter what the economy throws at us over the coming 12 months, organizations must not lose sight of their digital aspirations. The focus should be on enabling clear and measurable outcomes, and digital spending needs to transition from building to scaling. Indeed, IDC predicts that by 2027, at least 30% of the C-suite's focus will be on scaling innovation and operating a truly digital business. Automation will sit at the heart of this process, helping to reduce the cost of IT operations, address labor shortages, and increase the velocity of innovation."Globally, IDC expects spending on digital technology by organizations to grow at eight times the economy in 2023, establishing a foundation for organizations to drive operational excellence, competitive differentiation, and long-term growth. IDC will expand on these insights as it hosts the META region's most influential technology vendors, telecommunications operators, and IT service providers at IDC Directions 2023 Middle East, Türkiye & Africa.Taking place on February 1 at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre, this in-person event will address the theme 'Navigating Disruption in the Age of Digital Business'. It will examine the very latest digital acceleration trends shaping end-user investment priorities across the region, providing essential guidance to the region's foremost ICT vendors on proven best practices for transforming themselves into new-age digital partners for their customers.To learn more about IDC Directions 2023 Middle East, Türkiye & Africa, please contact Sheila Manek at   or on +971 4 446 3154. You can also join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #IDCDirectionsMETA.

GoDaddy announces collaboration with Ministry of Planning’s Rowad 2030

GoDaddy Inc., the company that helps entrepreneurs thrive, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Rowad 2030, a project derived from the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, to support startups and entrepreneurs through Rowad’s Business Clinic program, supporting the country’s ambitious national agenda; Egypt Vision 2030.The MoU was signed by Dr. Ghada Khalil, Director of the Rowad 2030 Project, and Selina Bieber, GoDaddy Commercial Strategy Senior Director, International Markets.The collaboration aims to empower entrepreneurs with increased opportunities for digitization, while bolstering Egypt’s startup ecosystem, by providing specifically designed educational courses, and a 30-day free trial to GoDaddy’s Arabic Website Builder or GoDaddy Estore.Through the Business Clinic program, GoDaddy will be leading a series of workshops and Train the Trainer (TTT) sessions, covering topics such as: how to build a website, building and marketing a brand online, starting an ecommerce website. These topics aim to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses, establish roots in new markets, and widen their client reach.Dr. Hala El Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, commented, “I am very pleased with this cooperation, which highlights the presence of highly responsible entities that endeavor to support entrepreneurs. We believe that empowering youth, fostering innovation, and bolstering entrepreneurship are major factors in achieving the sustainable development. Therefore, we are working hand in hand with the private sector to provide a supportive ecosystem for young Egyptian people to help them boost their journey in the marketplace.”Bieber expressed that the project has great potential, “We are very pleased with our collaboration with Rowad 2030 in support of start-ups and entrepreneurs through the Business Clinic program. As a champion for small businesses and the everyday entrepreneur, GoDaddy’s mission is to empower a global community of future business leaders to flourish online. Therefore, through this program, we aim to stimulate the innovation culture to empower Egypt’s sizeable youth population in acquiring the effective tools and knowledge to grow and sustain their online businesses.”“Rowad 2030 aims to spread the culture of entrepreneurship among youth by developing their skills. We look forward to working with GoDaddy to help Egypt’s young entrepreneurs innovate and help them reach their target and new audiences through the Business Clinic program. This comes in line with Rowad 2030’s strategy to upskill a million entrepreneurs and establish 5,000 new startups by 2030; leveraging the state’s sustainable development Egypt Vision 2030,” Khalil said.GoDaddy’s partnership with Rowad 2030 is one of the latest in a series of collaborations with local communities in the region. The company has been strategically partnering with relevant entities that help accelerate entrepreneurial development, such as Fawry and Startups Without Borders, in support entrepreneurs and small business owners across the Middle East in starting and growing their businesses online.

Dubai Future Foundation launches new report on future of the metaverse

 Dubai Future Foundation has published a report on the outcomes of the inaugural Dubai Metaverse Assembly held in September at the Museum of the Future under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Dubai Foundation Future.The report was prepared in partnership with PwC, the knowledge partner of the Dubai Metaverse Assembly, to highlight the main recommendations that came from the assembly, as well as the major trends and applications that were discussed.The assembly was attended by around 600 technology experts and specialists from 50 countries. Over the course of two days, they participated in more than 25 workshops and panel sessions that hosted more than 30 speakers and 40 local and international institutions and technology companies.The report addresses the most important topics and discussions that arose from the assembly relating to the future of the metaverse. It focuses on metaverse applications in sectors such as business, communications, education, entertainment, gaming, travel, and real estate.The report identified four main areas that governments and companies should focus on to achieve success in the metaverse, including strengthening collaboration between the government and private sectors, developing legislation and regulations related to data protection, privacy and cybersecurity risks, defining clear roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders, and accelerating the adoption of advanced technologies and the exchange of experiences.Dubai Metaverse Assembly was the first event in Dubai to focus on the metaverse. It was hosted following the approval by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to launch the Dubai Metaverse Strategy in July 2022. The strategy aims to add $4 billion to Dubai's GDP to support the creation of 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030, attract 1,000 technology companies to the emirate, and position Dubai as one of the 10 largest metaverse economies in the world.His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, said: “Dubai Metaverse Assembly hosted the largest gathering of experts and organizations concerned with designing the future of the metaverses. The event highlighted the importance of keeping pace with technological developments and employing new applications in realizing future visions and plans and developing governments, economy, health, education and communities. It also showcased the positive impact of using new tools that facilitate people's lives and open promising horizons in the future”. Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation, said: “The report aims to share the insights and knowledge revealed by global experts during Dubai Metaverse Assembly with the world through a new report on the untapped potential of the metaverse. We believe it’s crucial to share knowledge on future trends, as it allows governments, businesses, and civil society to take advantage of the immense opportunities presented by advanced technologies. This report will serve as a resource for anyone seeking to understand how the metaverse will impact vital economic sectors and help create a better future for humankind built on sustainability, wellbeing and prosperity.”Guy Parsonage, PwC’s Metaverse Lead, said, “The Middle East economy is currently undergoing a rapid digital transformation leading to an industry-wide disruption across various sectors. Dubai is a prime example of this as it aims to become one of the top ten metaverse economies, with an ambition to be a role model in metaverse technologies. In line with The Dubai Metaverse Strategy, our strategic partnership with the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) explores new and advanced technologies to create a better future, allowing us to connect between real and virtual worlds seamlessly. Furthermore, this partnership demonstrates our commitment to helping clients in their digital transformation journeys and ensuring we deliver sustainable outcomes while building trust in our society.”Governments and corporations should take the initiative to reap the inevitable socioeconomic benefits created by the metaverse, which will grow at a faster rate than internet or mobile connectivity speeds. All stakeholders must continue to explore new pathways for collaboration in the metaverse, the report found.Case studies should be the cornerstone of any new tests or projects in the metaverse, and they should be designed to foster credibility and build trust among developers, regulators and the public.The report highlights how the metaverse can add value in myriad ways. From enhancing the ability of individuals to control – and one day monetize – personal data – to helping nations achieve diplomatic parity, as evidenced by Barbados' plans to launch an embassy in the metaverse, there are endless opportunities.The control and the monopoly enjoyed by social media platforms today will be challenged by the metaverse; it has the potential to provide billions of people with richer experiences from enhanced education to intimate live performances from the world’s biggest artists and musicians.The full report is available on: (

Stc, from KSA to Bahrain & Kuwait, numerous achievements throughout its journey

The growth and expansion plan launched by stc Group at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century was not just dead letters, but rather a realistic strategy sought by the group as a result of the technical development witnessed in the region. Over the past few years, stc group has transformed from a mere company that provides communication and internet services to a digital enabler that is considered the most prominent in the Middle East region. The comprehensive strategy launched by the group had the superlative role in endorsing digital transformation in the gulf region, as it sought to diversify investment opportunities. And during the past two years it launched many subsidiaries in the fields of cybersecurity, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing, infrastructure and 5G technologies that serve different gulf communities and support the digital transformation in the region. Today, the market value of the stc group has reached more than 187 billion riyals and the value of the stc brand reached $10.6 billion, according to the Forbes magazine classification. Furthermore, the group obtained the most valuable brand certificate in the Middle East region in the telecommunications sector, according to the classification of Brand Finance International. The success story of this development, growth and accomplishments achieved by the group extended to become the main driving force of the communications and information technology sector for both Kuwait and the Kingdom of Bahrain. How did the group contribute to transforming the status of communications and information technology in the Gulf region?The beginning of the group’s success story in the expansion and growth process was from Kuwait, where in 2008 it witnessed the birth of a new star that shone its light in the sky of communications, and its features emerged in its first steps to draw the shapes of a giant who will transfer the communications and information technology sector to a promising future. During its first year, it attracted half a million customers in Kuwait, and within only 4 years it began to achieve profitable returns for investors, and the company’s official listing on the Kuwait Stock Exchange was one of the shapes of success and growth, as the volume of retained profits increased with the development of the company’s profits. It also acquired the second place in terms of revenues and market share from the subscribers, afterwards the achievements continued until it acquired a market share of about 36% of the sector’s revenues in 2021.In the Kingdom of Bahrain, stc entered the telecom market in 2010 as the third telecom operator in the Kingdom. The group quickly became a major driving force towards achieving the digital transformation vision, as it captured 41% of the market revenues, and proved its strength in the competition to become the first operator in the mobile phone markets, carrier sector customers and operators in the Kingdom of Bahrain, as well as the fastest performing company throughout the region and the first in developing local, regional and global networks, through continuous investments in infrastructure development. It was approved as the first commercial operator of the 5G network in Bahrain, in the field of cybersecurity, and cloud computing. The company also provided services outside the scope of communications, including financial services and insurance services at the highest levels, in order to keep up with the requirements of customers' daily lives.Contributing to Kuwait’s and Bahrain’s national visions2019 witnessed the launch of the unified brand in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The company also launched an updated and developed a strategy that fits the company's basic objectives during the subsequent years in 2019 to enhance the process of enabling the company's digital transformation in line with the national visions in each country.In Kuwait, the Kuwait strategic Vision 2035 seeks digital transformation among the many goals set by the state, to keep pace with the internet services at all levels. stc had a fundamental and vital role in accelerating the transformation process, as the company’s acquisition of Quality-net and its transformation into “solutions by stc” had a prominent role to be the active technical arm in enabling the business sector and supporting local projects. It announced the establishment of the 5G Innovation Center in 2019, with the aim of exploring, developing and launching the uses of advanced 5G technologies. Moreover, it provided a range of digital solutions for companies that include data centers, infrastructure support and applications for companies. In addition, stc introduced an IoT strategy that allowed companies to manage their resources more efficiently and make the most of their business models.In Bahrain, stc contributed to supporting Bahrain's economic vision 2030. In terms of the business sector, the company developed a comprehensive range of information and communication technology products, including cybersecurity, asset tracking, data hosting, and cloud services to serve this sector. In terms of carriers and operators, the company has succeeded In consolidating its position as an empowered company in this field. It provided services to more than 400 national and international companies. The company also enhanced the customer service experience across all points of contact, as it always aimed to continue advancing the digital transformation in the Kingdom of Bahrain to become a digitally enabled society.Future and growth and developing performanceBased on the company's strategy and the promising projections of the institutional sector in Kuwait, the company undertook a major transformation process to meet the needs of customers and enrich their experiences in the information and communication technology field, which was highlighted in the company's strategy "AHEAD". The company was keen to improve its efficiency and internal capabilities in this sector through its acquisition on the entire capital of the Electronic Gate Holding Company in April 2022, to keep pace with the latest rapid global developments in the field of communications and information technology, and to provide the best integrated technical solutions to its individual and institutional clients. stc successfully completed its capital increase during 2022 to reach KD 99.9 million by distributing 100% bonus shares to its shareholders. During the third quarter of 2022, stc's market share reached 39.8% of the telecom sector's revenues in Kuwait, for the first time since the company's establishment, to be at the forefront of the telecom sector in terms of revenue.In Bahrain, stc has invested more than $2 billion in developing digital infrastructure. The company has remained at the forefront of launching innovative services in Bahrain, even becoming the first operator to launch 5G technology across the Kingdom. stc Bahrain has also worked to develop its innovation center and its platform for developing modern technologies for various sectors, and has also launched many digital services, including self-service machines (SSM), smart queue management service, and many other services, which contributed to providing an improved experience for customers by providing them with the opportunity to complete their transactions in a few seconds and in any time and place. The company launched a cyber security training academy, with the aim of raising awareness about potential cyber threats through its leading solutions in this field.Investing in sustainability and social developmentSince its establishment in Kuwait, stc has been able to achieve many contributions and achievements to support the local community and its social responsibility agenda. It succeeded in participating across various initiatives in cooperation with various government agencies and private sector institutions to small and medium-sized companies that aimed at supporting and empowering the Kuwaiti society to achieve sustainability in line with Kuwait Vision 2035. The company focused its efforts in key areas such as health, sports, education, entrepreneurship, and the environment. It launched several initiatives, such as the "Safe Education" campaign in cooperation with the Ministries of Education, Health, Interior, and Information, and the "Weyak" initiative to support local SMEs in enabling their digital transformation strategies.The company is keen to invest in the continuous development of its human resources, as they form the cornerstone of its outstanding performance. It is endlessly focused on providing education and development programs, as it has effectively launched its e-learning programs through many recognized international organizations, such as LinkedIn Learning and Gartner, to continue providing training and development opportunities for employees. The company also launched its training academy "Creativity Academy", which seeks to empower employees with high potentials.Under the social responsibility umbrella, stc Bahrain worked to spread the culture of innovation to a level beyond the borders of its customers, as it launched the “Jussoor” program with the aim of empowering its community service. Moreover, it launched the “Trees for Life” initiative that aimed at supporting the Kingdom’s national plans in reforestation, with the purpose of doubling the percentage of trees in the Kingdom by 2035, and launched the "Kafu" program, which was shown during the holy month of Ramadan. It is a major initiative to highlight individuals and people who have been a source of inspiration in the Kingdom over the years. It also launched the “Fereej” initiative which means (the neighborhood), with the aim of investing for families who live in difficult conditions. The company worked to educate and develop Bahraini youth and provide unique opportunities for fresh graduates looking to enrich their careers inside and outside the company through its “ICT Generation” program, which was launched recently.

Dubai leads MENA region on Global Power City Index 2022

 Dubai is leading the MENA region on the Global Power City Index (GPCI) 2022, issued by Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies. After climbing up three spots globally to rank 11th on the index, the emirate also comes 4th globally on Cultural Interaction, improving from its fifth position overall on the parameter in last year’s Index.The GPCI ranks the world’s major cities according to their ‘magnetism’, or power to attract people, capital and enterprises from around the world. The rankings are derived from scores on six parameters: Economy, Research and Development, Cultural Interaction, Liveability, Environment, and Accessibility.The GCI’s rankings of the top cities in 2022 reflect the self-reinforcing strength of the world’s leading global cities. The top four cities on the list — New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo — are unchanged from 2021.Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, said the improvement in the city’s rankings on the Global Power City Index reflects the leadership’s vision to make Dubai the world’s best city to live, visit and work.He added that the rankings reaffirm the success of Dubai’s human-centred model of sustainable development.“Driven by the farsighted policies of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the emirate has emerged as one of the world’s great metropolises and a prominent global cultural centre, a dynamic hub for creativity and a destination for talent,” Sheih Hamdan noted.“The achievement reveals the richness and strength of Dubai’s vibrant cultural environment and its ethos of inclusive development that has brought well-being to its residents from around 200 nationalities.The progress in rankings on ‘Cultural Interaction' shows Dubai’s emergence as a unique bridge between cultures and markets and its ability to promote engagement between people and institutions worldwide. The progress in various international indices encourages Dubai to raise excellence further and enhance its cultural and creative assets,” he added.Commenting on Dubai’s progress in the GPCI rankings, H.H. Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, and member of the Dubai Council, said: “Dubai has evolved an integrated strategy to consolidate its position as a city of choice for cultural practices, experiences and consumption. Driven by the vision of our forward-thinking leadership, Dubai has seen remarkable development as a global cultural hub.The successful hosting of Dubai Expo 2020, one of the world’s biggest cultural events, and the growth in visitors have added to the city’s cultural dynamism. The city saw more than 11.4 million overnight international visitors in just the first 10 months of the year.The number of new businesses in Dubai’s cultural and creative industries has also seen significant growth, catalysed by our enhanced value proposition and offerings for this sector. The progress achieved in the ‘Cultural Interaction’ parametre validates the success of our strategic plans and represents a major milestone in our efforts to achieve our leadership’s vision for Dubai.”She added: “Dubai’s emergence as a major global hub for culture and creativity increases our determination to raise the emirate’s global competitiveness in these spheres.Guided by our leadership’s vision to transform Dubai into a leading city of the future, we continue to work to create a dynamic ecosystem for our cultural and creative industries and empower talent to contribute directly to the economy’s growth. We also seek to enhance the diversity of Dubai’s cultural offering in order to further enrich the experiences the city offers both residents and visitors.”The rankings of the top five cities in the ‘Cultural Interaction’ parameter have seen significant changes in the latest GPCI. Dubai has made rapid strides in this category over the last few years.The issuer of the Index, the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies, said GPCI 2022 rankings were significantly impacted by how cities responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, which transformed working methods, lifestyles, and economic and cultural activities in cities. Cities in the Middle East significantly strengthened their performance on various parameters.By tracking changes in international flight frequencies of cities since 2019, the GPCI analysed the responses and strategies of cities and countries to the pandemic. Dubai was the first city to reopen for international visitors since the onset of the pandemic. It also created a safe environment for holding Expo 2020 from October 2021 to March 2022.Both achievements contributed to the emirate’s rise to third ranking in the ‘Tourist Attractions’ sub-parameter within the ‘Cultural Interaction’ parameter. The emirate also saw significant growth in other sub-parameters, including ‘Number of Foreign Visitors,’ ‘Cities with Direct International Flights,’ ‘Attractiveness of Shopping Options,’ and ‘Attractiveness of Dining Options.’Although London maintained its #1 position, the city saw its score fall for the second year running. In the Economy function, scores for all indicators in both the "Market Size" and "Market Attractiveness" indicator groups fell. Scores related to Accessibility's "Air Transport Capacity" and Cultural Interaction's "International Interaction" dropped sharply. On the other hand, London moved up to #11 in Environment, placing it one position away from achieving top 10 results across all functions.New York saw its comprehensive score improve, bringing it closer to #1 London. The city received excellent results in Cultural Interaction's "Tourism Resources" and "Visitor Amenities", jumping over Paris and returning to the #2 position for the first time since GPCI-2020. In Livability, scores for "Working Environment", which had fallen last year, improved this year. In Accessibility, scores improved due to the recovery of the number of passengers on domestic air flights, resulting in the city achieving a #1 position in "Air Transport Capacity".Tokyo had the fourth largest drop in its comprehensive score among GPCI cities, edging closer to #4 Paris. The city saw its rank fall in 4 of the 6 functions, with lower scores in "Tourism Resources" and "International Interaction" in Cultural Interaction causing a drop to #5 in that function. Unlike New York, the slow recovery of air travel for Tokyo caused a strong decline in its "Air Transport Capacity" scores in Accessibility.

25,000 Emirati women entrepreneurs own 50,000 trade licences valued at AED 60bln

A recent survey conducted by NAMA Women Advancement, in partnership with UN Women, found that 77.6% of women-owned businesses (WOB) in the UAE are led by those under the age of 40. Of the 1,000 female business owners who took part in the survey, 48.8% are CEOs and 61.4% are sole proprietors, a clear indicator that Emirati entrepreneurs, particularly young women, are making significant contributions to the GDP in emerging economic sectors.This survey was a part of the report ‘Women-Owned Businesses in the United Arab Emirates: A Golden Opportunity’, published by NAMA Women Advancement in partnership with The Economic Empowerment Section of the UN Women, which addressed the realities and prospects of Emirati women's contributions to the UAE’s comprehensive development, enhancing the sustainability of economic sectors and diversifying sources of national income.Strong business ecosystemThe report lauded the UAE’s sustainable and resilient entrepreneurial ecosystem, pointing out the massive strides the UAE has undertaken to ensure gender parity through a series of legal, policy and institutional measures over the past decade, including the simplification of access to finance. The UAE was ranked top in the world in the 2021/2022 Global Entrepreneurship Mentorship (GEM) report in terms of countries that allow for better ease of doing business.The report indicated that Sharjah aspires to build a sustainable economy by fostering youth entrepreneurship and emerging tech-led industries, enhancing competitiveness and improving business opportunities for MSMEs. Hence, a steady increase in newly registered businesses.Rise in the number of women-owned businessesThe report revealed that the number of female entrepreneurs is rising significantly, with 25,000 Emirati women entrepreneurs owning 50,000 trade licences valued at AED 60 billion in 2021 compared to 23,000 Emirati women running businesses worth AED 50 billion in 2019 and 11,000 Emirati businesswomen running businesses worth AED 12 billion in 2010.Respondents stated they were confident in their business growth plans and expressed the importance of securing financing sources. They stressed the importance of engaging women in organisations that provide comprehensive support for entrepreneurs through networking, training and advisory services.Respondents also expressed a need for training and capacity-building in business skills including commerce and digital marketing skills, financial accounting and management tools, as well as acquiring knowledge on making proposals in response to bids and tenders. Meanwhile, the report also stated that 13% are co-owners with more than 51% of shares, and 25% are business leaders with less than 51% of shares, while 72% of WOBs comprise micro-enterprises, 24% are small enterprises and 3% are medium enterprises.Comprehensive visionThe report also provides a comprehensive overview of the realities of small and medium WOBs, and the possibilities of securing financing, in addition to suggestions and recommendations on ways to achieve them and advance businesses, pointing out the massive strides the UAE has undertaken to ensure gender parity through a series of legal, policy and institutional measures over the past decade, in both public and private sectors.Main legislation driverThe report pointed out that businesswomen councils in the country were the main drivers for national business legislation encouraging women’s participation in entrepreneurship through micro businesses. Hence, Emirati and non-Emirati women were encouraged to thrive and to start their entrepreneurial journey with minimal set-up requirements.It also stressed that significant women-focused initiatives for SMEs and home-based activities gave access to thousands of women entrepreneurs to set up their businesses, including the launch of Badiri Education and Development Academy and Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council by NAMA in Sharjah, ‘Sougha’ and ‘Mubdi’ah’ by the Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council, and ‘Intilaq’ by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce.Opportunities, challenges, and needs   A UN Women–NAMA research titled ‘Women-Owned Businesses in the UAE: Opportunities, Challenges and Needs’ indicated that 41.2% of female business leaders stated that the main challenge they face in the UAE is the lack of access to markets; 38.8% noted access to finance, while 33.5% noted high market competition.Unquestionable proofCommenting on the report and study, HE Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA, said: “This report represents an unquestionable proof of women’s role as a major component of development in the UAE. We are working to form a comprehensive ecosystem that nurtures women's great results that contribute to the national economy, which is a pillar on which institutions under NAMA were established under the directive of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the SCFA. We seek to create an environment that cares for women, and provides them with opportunities to engage in comprehensive development, whether she is an at-home mother or grandmother taking care of her children, or an entrepreneur or a business owner that provides opportunities for advancing the local economy, and strengthen women’s status as a key player in bolstering the UAE’s standing.”Promising OutcomesFor her part, Dr. Moza Al Khayal, Director of the UN Women-UAE Liaison Office for the GCC, said: “Despite the challenges facing women entrepreneurs, the continuous governmental support has provided opportunities to gain extensive expertise through training initiatives organised around the country that helped establish a comprehensive ecosystem that guides women towards a bright future and accomplishments that the report has highlighted.”

KPMG GCC Female Leaders Outlook: Female leaders in the region growth optimistic

In view of broadening demand from leaders/organizations in the GCC countries, KPMG Kuwait published the first edition of its flagship publication GCC Female Leaders Outlook 2022. The report is an insightful compilation of the opinions and outlook of more than 60 female leaders from the GCC region on six areas, namely: (i) Growth; (ii) New Work; (iii) Digitalization and Cyber; (iv) Innovation and Technology; (v) Purpose and ESG; and (vi) Career and Motivation.The report highlights that the GCC Female Leaders are confident about the growth prospects of their countries, sectors and companies even in the face of disruption. They are cognizant of key threats such as talent and technology risks, and are taking swift measures to stay on top of them.Speaking about the report, Karen Watts, Partner — Quality and Risk, KPMG in Kuwait said, “I am happy to announce the launch of the GCC Female Leaders Outlook 2022. Over the years, we have issued three editions of the Global Female Leaders Outlook, with the intention of voicing the perspectives of women leaders on several areas that could impact them as an individual and as part of an organization. With this report, however, we have tried to deliver something that is more relevant and in line with the GCC Female Leaders’ requirements, considering the same has shot up in recent years. I hope our readers will find it helpful and put it to good use. I would also like to thank the female leaders who participated in our thought leadership and provided us with their valuable insights, which helped us with an accurate representation of the region.”The publication features five interviews with Haya Ayman Boodai, Board Member, Touristic Enterprises Company & Dhaman Health Assurance Hospitals Company, Manal Alrubaian, General Internal Auditor, Kuwait International Bank, May Dashti, Information Security AGM, Gulf Bank, Rama Issam, Senior Manager — IT Quality Management Division, Boubyan Bank, and Salma Al-Hajjaj , GM — Human Resources at Gulf Bank to add more regional specificity to the outlook.The one-on-one interactions cover the present market scenario, impact of the COVID-19 crisis, work-life balance and, more importantly, the journey the interviewees took to become leaders in their organizations.In working on the publication, the following key themes emerged:Optimism amid adversity: While confident that the growth prospects will mature in their favor, female leaders are not undermining the risks in talent and emerging technology. Haya Ayman Boodai acknowledged the risks associated with talent and quoted, “People are key assets for any organization and the success and failure of any company is directly linked with its people. The report highlights that more than 90% of the GCC Female Leaders feel that their countries’ growth prospects will come to fruition over the next three years despite prevailing challenges.Hiring for a new reality: Female leaders are searching for more talent to fulfill the needs of digital. They are focusing on creating the right employee value proposition as well as a set of policies and culture that will support work-life balance. Talking about how work has changed after the COVID-19 crisis with regard to new talent, Salma Al-Hajjaj said, “Post pandemic, there is a belief that work can be done from anywhere and hence flexible working hours and distance working should be considered moving forward.” The report mentions that a third of the leaders want to forge a culture that will promote employee well-being and are, hence, striving to create a framework around that.Maintaining the pace of digitalization: Female leaders are eager to invest in digital opportunities and are considering adoption of a more aggressive approach to succeed in their digital investment strategy. “An organization’s digital transformation journey requires proper planning and the right leadership combined with regular monitoring,” said May Dashti emphasizing the importance of a good strategy. Adding to this, Manal Alrubaian commented, “Digital transformation is a challenge for any organization, and the main factor that can turn the challenge to motivation and opportunity is the presence of excellent expertise.”Innovating for resilience: Female leaders believe innovation will be paramount in ensuring their organization’s post-pandemic survival and are using ‘fast-failing’ initiatives as a vehicle. Speaking about the role of innovation in the technology sector, Rama Issam said, “Innovation is a fundamental tool to survive and thrive in the technology sector, as banks aim to leverage technology to build wider a customer base and better customer relationships.”Meeting ESG demands: Female leaders think ESG performance around ethnic, racial and gender concerns drives stakeholder attention. According to the report, eight in ten respondents feel that more effort should be made toward bridging the gender equality gap on a senior level. “We still have a long way to go in terms of minimizing the gender gap in technology but the effort is worth it as I strongly believe that diverse talent pools are effective,” added Rama Issam underlining the importance of having more women in technology/IT.Charting a career growth path: Female leaders have plans in place to grow their careers despite top workplace concerns in behavior-related bias, preferential treatment and transparency around equal pay. “In recent years, I have observed more and more women getting into technical fields, such as information technology and medical sciences, among other areas, which used to be dominated by males. This type of balance is really important because I believe women can excel in any field of their choosing if they are given the opportunity to do so,” affirmed Haya Ayman Boodai. Supporting this, the findings in the GCC Female Leaders indicate that almost 80% of the GCC Female Leaders have a clear idea as to how they are going to progress their career in the next three years.The report calls special attention to the gender gap in the digital era and points out that bridging it will require more than motivating women to take up a career in the digital economy. The report lays emphasis on bringing about a change in mindset that will support the roles women are playing now and will continue to, along with the emerging roles, in the new reality.The results and findings published in the report are based on the Primary Research, Global Female Leaders Outlook 2021, HQ Middle East, with the participating female leaders belonging to Middle Eastern countries such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Digital economy in GCC region advancing rapidly

 Saeed bin Hamoud Al Maawali, Omani Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, stressed that the digital economy of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region is advancing at a rapid and significant pace, noting its major importance to GDP.He also noted the importance of promoting cooperation between the GCC and its international partners to increase the pace of digital transformation.In his exclusive statement to the Emirates News Agency (WAM) on the sidelines of his participation in the ICT Competition Middle East Regional Finals 2022, Al Maawali highlighted the need to support relevant digital economy plans and programmes, as well as enhance the cooperation between the UAE and Oman in developing the digital economy infrastructure, and attracting international investments in emerging technologies and digital industry.He also affirmed Oman’s keenness to train creative talents, through a national initiative for qualifying competencies, titled, “Makeen,” which aims to attract creative minds in the GCC, especially in Oman, as well as launch other national initiatives in the areas of self-employment, competition and software development, and encouraging the private sector.Al Maawali added that the selection of Muscat as the Arab Digital Capital for 2022 underscores the significant efforts of national authorities to progress towards the era of digitisation and digital transformation, stressing that Oman aims to offer incentives for digital companies and exchange information.He then pointed out the many areas of cooperation with the UAE in the areas of legislation, policies and laws related to smart transport, promoting partnerships with the private sector in creating investment solutions for smart transport and the transformation to sustainable clean transport, to achieve carbon neutrality in the transport sector and support research and development and technical training for workers, and other fields.

Network International appoints Sandeep Chouhan

Network International (Network), the leading enabler of digital commerce across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, has announced the appointment of Sandeep Chouhan as Group Chief Business Transformation and Technology Officer.Bringing global experience in spearheading Business and Technology Transformations at some of the world’s leading financial institutions and payments businesses, Sandeep will be responsible for driving Network’s group-wide strategic transformation to accelerate business growth, operating efficiency and innovation in processing and acquiring products, as well as reducing time-to-market for banks, merchants and fintechs.A reputed figure in the global banking and payments industries, Sandeep most recently served as Group Chief Operating Officer of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB). He brings with him over thirty years of consumer banking and payments experience in business management, digital transformation, technology modernisation and agile operations. Sandeep has a track record of building and running technology, digital and operations at Citi, Discover Card, Barclays, Mashreq, CBQ and ADIB.“Sandeep’s experience as a Transformation and Technology expert of leading financial institutions and payments businesses will ensure that we accelerate product innovation and time-to-market for our customers, enabling them to achieve their goals,” commented Nandan Mer - Group CEO of Network International.Sandeep Chouhan – Group Chief Business Transformation and Technology Officer at Network International, added, “I am honoured to be joining the MEA region’s most prominent payments enabler, and absolutely thrilled to be spearheading innovation and strengthening our technology offerings to provide world-class digital services to our customers and create the next-generation payments ecosystem.

Trend Micro joins forces with SCCC Alibaba Cloud

Trend Micro, a global leader in cybersecurity solutions, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Saudi Cloud Computing Company (SCCC) Alibaba Cloud to protect the enterprises of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from the evolving threat landscape and to promote the localization of cybersecurity solutions in Saudi Arabia.During a special ceremony at the inauguration of Trend Micro’s MEA HQ in Riyadh, SCCC Alibaba Cloud’s Chief Executive Officer, Eng.Talal Albakr, and Trend Micro’s Area Vice President and Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa, Dr. Moataz Bin Ali, signed the agreement in the presence of His Excellency Haytham Alohali, Vice Minister, Ministry of Communications, and Information Technology.In 2022, Alibaba Cloud became the world’s first hyperscale cloud provider to enter the Saudi Arabian market, offering its services through Saudi Cloud Computing Company (SCCC). SCCC Alibaba Cloud and Trend Micro will collaborate to provide cutting edge solutions that benefit the customers of both companies. Together, they will share cybersecurity best practices, insights and explore opportunities for hosting Trend Micro’s innovative data lake in Saudi Arabia. The data lake will allow Trend Micro and its partners to offer advanced threat defense solutions from inside Saudi Arabia. The two organizations will also work together on the localization of cybersecurity solutions and practices across the kingdom.“SCCC Alibaba Cloud is committed to enhancing collaborations with partners in various markets to provide tailormade cloud solutions that will empower businesses across industries and help them to thrive in the digital age,” said Eng. Talal Albakr, Chief Executive Officer, SCCC Alibaba Cloud. “With the advent of technology and accelerated digital transformation, our partnership with Trend Micro will go a long way in supporting enterprises across Saudi Arabia in navigating the evolving threat landscape.”“Trend Micro is committed to protecting the digital transformation journeys of Saudi Arabia’s enterprises and communities,” said Dr. Moataz Bin Ali, Area Vice President and Managing Director, Trend Micro, Middle East and Africa. “Today we take another major step as we embark on a new journey of innovation and partnership with SCCC Alibaba Cloud. The threat actor is becoming more sophisticated by the moment, and we will do everything in our capacity to empower the kingdom’s organizations so that they can continue to thrive in the new digital era.”

Airbnb launches one-stop hub for remote workers in Dubai

 Airbnb today announced the launch of the Dubai remote working hub, a one-stop-shop for aspiring remote workers in partnership with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).Anyone looking to live and work in Dubai can now use the hub to find inspiration for local long-term listings as well as helpful information on entry requirements and visa policies.Earlier this year, Airbnb launched its Live and Work Anywhere initiative to identify some of the most remote worker-friendly destinations in the world. Dubai was selected as one of 20 destinations globally, alongside Canary Islands, Thailand and the Caribbean, among others.The Live and Work Anywhere programme will see Airbnb and Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism promote the city to remote workers seeking accommodation and guidance for their long-term stays.Velma Corcoran, Regional Lead for Middle East and Africa at Airbnb, said, “Dubai is a global leader in facilitating remote working. As this trend continues to accelerate, we want to work together to make it easier for people to enjoy the newfound flexibility to work and travel, and help the city harness the economic benefits of this new type of tourism.”Millions of people are now more flexible about where they live and work. About one in five guests globally reported using Airbnb to work remotely while travelling in 2021 — a trend that has continued into Q1 2022, with long-term stays at an all-time high, more than doubling in size from Q1 2019. In the first three months of 2022, searches for international solo travel in the United Arab Emirates for long-term stays also grew by over 280 percent compared to the same period in 2019. Dubai ranked among the world’s top 3 cities to live for executive nomads in the 2022 Savills Executive Nomad Index.Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said, "Dubai’s global connectivity and pro-business ecosystem combined with visa-friendly reform has underlined the city’s status as a leading hub for remote workers, building on Dubai’s commitment to nurture business growth and meeting the demands of today’s talent."The city is already home to over 200 nationalities that enjoy unrivalled career opportunities and lifestyle offerings. From world-class retail experiences, to Michelin-starred restaurants and local cuisine, sandy beaches, theme parks and a cultural scene second to none, Dubai is yet again ready to welcome the world, this time in collaboration with Airbnb."Airbnb recently published a guide for governments and destinations outlining recommendations for how communities can benefit economically from the rise in remote workers. Airbnb’s Guide to Live and Work Anywhere: How Communities Can Benefit from Remote Workers is based on Airbnb’s insights, data and experiences in partnering with 20 destinations that are embracing the potential of remote work, as well as a review of remote worker programmes worldwide.

Emerging trends expected to shape UAE’s cloud technology industry in 2023

As the cloud technology wave continues to sweep across industries regionally on the back of an ever-evolving digital-centric consumer base, players in the cloud computing space are racing towards adopting value-driven solutions in a bid to grow their market share.According to hybrid data cloud company Cloudera, this has resulted in a dramatic shift occasioned by emerging consumer preferences and trends shaping markets.In recognition that technology and innovation, especially in the cloud computing industry, remain pivotal to the growth and success of many organisations, Cloudera has reiterated the need to adopt and integrate emerging trends as part of the organisation’s digital strategy.“Cloud technology remains a top priority in every organisation because consumers have become tech-savvy and expect solution providers to lead by example. This has, in turn, led to an increase in the adoption of cloud technology for various applications, including data management. Therefore, organisations must keep an eye on new trends and innovations to help them deliver the right solutions across industries,” said Karim Azar, Regional Vice President of Middle East & Turkey.Hot on the heels of these disruptions and growing consumer expectations, the market has introduced newer products to fill emerging gaps.As the market prepares to usher in 2023, the industry should align its strategies with new trends and consumer preferences in the cloud technology space even as they plan to remain competitive in its respective strongholds; expect the development of the following trends:Adoption of the Multi-CloudThe mass adoption of cloud computing is a crucial driver of the most transformative technological trends. The industry is expected to witness multiple businesses leveraging cloud services to access newer, innovative technologies and build efficiencies in their operations and processes in the upcoming year.While 2022 has been a great year for Hybrid clouds, 2023 expects businesses to diversify their services across cloud portals. Adopting multi-cloud services enables organisations to expand their horizons regarding agility and security. Moreover, the multi-cloud technology prevents users from getting tied down to one cloud ecosystem.“Adopting hybrid and multi-cloud services provides several benefits in terms of flexibility, ease of use, and even cost savings,” Karim Azar, Regional Vice President – Middle East & Turkey at Cloudera. Sixty-nine per cent of business executives are convinced that their enterprises require a comprehensive data strategy to succeed. However, only 35 per cent believe that their current system sufficiently fulfils their requirements.Industry experts have cited the ability to manage seasonal demands, support special projects, and identify and organisation renegade workloads as some of the key reasons hybrid and multi-cloud services are necessary for businesses.Ability to manage seasonal demandsSupporting special projectsIdentification and organisation of renegade workloadsHigher Funding For Cloud Security & DurabilitySince businesses will be looking to adopt multiple cloud services for their data, security and longevity will be crucial. Although migrating across clouds exposes companies to myriad growth opportunities, it also significantly increases their vulnerability to cyber threats. Businesses will, therefore, need also to shore up their investment in tried-and-tested technologies to help them safeguard their data from any potential threats online.Upskilling for digital transformation success and business survivalThe global tech industry remains amidst a severe talent and skills shortage, impacting the ability of businesses to see through their digital transformation projects and endangering their survival.With a restricted pool of graduates with specialist data skills, having individuals with suitable skill sets is crucial. With AI and machine learning (ML) taking over everyday time-consuming tasks, employees can shift their focus onto complex tasks that require human intelligence.Going ahead, business investment in upskilling and reskilling programmes will be key to unlocking future growth and development. Complementary to this are prospects who are increasingly receptive to these programmes. Cloudera’s Limitless: The Positive Power of AI report found that most (80%) of knowledge workers were comfortable taking on new roles thanks to advances in AI/ML and data analytics, making their job easier.Digital Transformation to Save CostsInstigated by cost-cutting strategies, the priority for most businesses will likely be cost-efficient data security strategies. This includes increased use of Artificial Intelligence, and Predictive Technology crafted to identify potential security threats in advance. Finding opportunities for monetary savings offers the benefit of reducing costs, but more importantly, it enables a reallocation of budgets towards innovation projects.Substituting redundant data storage is a massive opportunity to reduce costs. Organisations can seek opportunities and evaluate cost savings using mergers. Solution providers can be challenged to demonstrate the most efficient solutions to optimise project deliveries and costs.As technological advancements grow, business leaders and employees will have more time to focus on complex tasks, enabling them to finish more in lesser time at better costs.

2021 Happiness@Work awards unveiled

Strategic sustainability and corporate responsibility think-tank in the Gulf and the MENA region, Sustainable Mindz, today unveiled the 2021 Happiness@Work awards, picking out the best innovative public and private sector companies in the region for their out-of-the-box and disruptive employee engagement and wellbeing policies, resulting in overall happiness at their respective workplaces.The fifth edition of the Happiness@Work awards have been announced across several categories, and the competition to be endorsed for their commitment to make happiness at workplaces a new normal, has attracted a phenomenal number of participants this year. The Happiness@Work Award is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the region and in the last five cycles, 62 organisations have received 75 awards.“We have been negotiating an extraordinary period of challenging times and despite the uphill context, some of these companies which have been awarded have shown tremendous amount of empathy to employees, which shows their commitment to creating happy work places irrespective of constraints. We believe they are the disruptors that have dedicatedly pursued engaging their employees with positivity with focus on their wellbeing,” said Sarju Mathew, Director, Sustainable Mindz.There were 35 nominations in this year’s cycle across categories, and after evaluation by a jury panel of experts, awards were declared across eight categories to companies that have shown exceptional dedication to happiness at workplace.Abu Dhabi Police from the public sector and Paramount Computer Systems were picked out for the Happiest Workplace Award.  Abu Dhabi Police and Paramount Computer Systems also won the Best Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Program Award. The Best Workers Welfare Program was given to Zain BH B.S.C, while Paramount Computer Systems and Watermark Events Solution LLP was honoured for its Best Workplace Wellness Program.“These organisations have placed their obligation of creating a happy workplace at the centre of their governance policies and they have indeed made a difference to the lives of their colleagues. In turn, they have paved a positive path for others to follow, to change and be changed,” said Dr Saamdu Chetri, Chair of Jury, Happiness@Work AwardThe Best Employee Engagement Program category awards went to Abu Dhabi Police, Festoon, Aafaq Islamic Finance and Barjeel, while Hitachi Energy bagged the Best Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Program.

DP World & Hassana Investment Company announce $2.4bln investment in UAE Assets

 DP World and the Saudi Arabia-based Hassana Investment Company (Hassana), the investment manager for the General Organisation for Social Insurance (GOSI) – which owns one of the world’s largest pension funds – announced today an investment of approximately US$2.4 billion (SAR9.0 billion) in three of DP World’s flagship UAE assets. This sale of a strategic minority stake in Jebel Ali Port, Jebel Ali Free Zone and National Industries Park, follows on the earlier transaction that successfully closed in June 2022.Hassana will invest approximately US$2.4 billion in a new joint venture with DP World through which it will hold its economic interest in a stake of approximately 10.2% in the three UAE assets. The investment by Hassana implies a total enterprise value of approximately US$23 billion for the three assets.[1] The Jebel Ali Port, Free Zone and National Industries Park together comprise a best-in-class group of infrastructure assets, with a solid long-term track record of growth. Combined, they form a world-class integrated ecosystem for the supply and logistics chains of over 9,000 companies from around the world, serving more than 3.5 billion people globally. The three assets generated pro-forma 2021 revenue of US$1.9 billion.After this investment, which closed on 19 December 2022, the three assets will remain fully consolidated businesses within the DP World Group, and their day-to-day operations, customers, service providers and employees will not be affected.Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, said: "We are delighted to announce this new partnership with Saudi Arabia-based Hassana, which manages one of the largest global pension funds. Hassana shares our long-term vision for the UAE assets, which have a long and sustained track record of growth and resilience. We believe this new partnership will serve to enhance our assets and allow us to capture the significant growth potential of the wider market. The transaction further strengthens our balance sheet, which, combined with the continued resilience of our business, diversity in our portfolio and focus on supply chain solutions, will support our target of achieving a strong investment-grade rating for the DP World group. Overall, we believe this partnership and transaction will drive sustainable value for all DP World stakeholders."  Saad bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadly, CEO of Hassana Investment Company, said: "We are excited to announce this new partnership with DP World and our investment in Jebel Ali, a world-class infrastructure asset with a solid long-term track record. This partnership highlights our focus and strategy to invest in critical infrastructure assets in the region that we believe will deliver long-term sustainable returns. Favourable demographics and macro-economic drivers and investment in transformational projects will continue to support growth momentum regionally, while trade between the emerging economies of Asia and Africa is also expected to thrive."

Dubai Chambers convenes with business groups and councils

Dubai Chambers has recently convened representatives of its business groups and councils to the fourth 2022 roundtable discussion aimed at fostering public-private sector cooperation to enhance Dubai’s favourable business environment.Held on a quarterly basis, the roundtable events provide group and council representatives with a platform to discuss timely business issues, proactively identify policy and legislative priorities, and drive collective advocacy impact to advance economic and business growth in Dubai.“Dubai Chambers is committed to protecting the interests of our members and meeting the changing needs of a dynamic business environment. We advocate to improve ease of doing business in Dubai, acting as a bridge between the emirate’s private sector and its forward-thinking government. The roundtable discussions with business groups and councils are valuable communication channels that help us identify and collectively address important policy matters that impact our business community in order to create a supportive, enabling, and innovation-based business environment,” said Maha AlGargawi, Executive Director of Business Advocacy at Dubai Chambers in her welcome remarks during the roundtable.Th event featured an overview of Dubai Chambers’ strategic priorities and the emirate’s economic outlook as well as updates on current and upcoming initiatives.During the event, Dubai Chambers presented results of the latest Dubai Quarterly Business Survey: Outlook, Impediments & Incentives, 2022, Q4.According to the survey, the overall majority of businesses in Dubai have better expectations for business conditions and sales. Sentiments on business confidence and business conditions have improved and are expected to positively impact private investment in Dubai. Companies are looking to increase digital adoption in all facets including advertisement (40%), digital payments (35%), e-commerce (25%) and digital marketing (31%).Dubai Chamber of Commerce, one of the three chambers operating under Dubai Chambers, announced this year plans to establish new country-specific business councils to expand economic cooperation and non-oil trade between Dubai business community and international markets of strategic importance across Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.In addition, Dubai Chamber of Commerce aims to increase the economic sectors and activities represented by business groups to 100 by March 2023. Business groups are policy advocates for their respective sectors that unify the voice of the business community and promote the private sector’s role in economic growth.

Almost 60% of Saudi Arabia consumers choose only digital money transfer

Consumers in Saudi Arabia predominantly view digital money transfers as the preferred way to send money now and in the future, according to research commissioned by Western Union. Yet many still want the power to choose between online and retail (in-person) experiences - depending on their convenience and needs. Exclusive insights show that today almost 60% of consumers who send money abroad prefer digital money-transfer services, compared to 22% who want choice, and 17% who send cash through retail channels only.The study, which surveyed over 1,500 money-sending and receiving citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia, asked how, when and why they move money internationally. The results bolster Western Union’s recently announced ‘Evolve 2025’ (E25) strategy combining high-value, accessible digital and retail financial services. The research also aligns to Western Union data, which has demonstrated strong customer preferences to move money digitally. In the first three quarters of 2022, the Company experienced double-digit year-on-year growth in the volume of digital transactions from Saudi Arabia.When asked about how international money transfers should be offered in the future, consumer opinion among senders is mixed. More (47%) still believe that the transfer experience should be digital from end-to-end, while 44% prefer choice and 9% would still opt for cash only. In reverse, 57% of consumers who receive transfers prefer a choice, while 24% favour going completely digital. Nineteen percent would still want to collect their funds in cash only. “Since launching their ambitious National Transformation Program – Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has made significant strides in achieving digital transformation,” said Jean Claude Farah, President of Middle East and Asia Pacific at Western Union. “The country’s visionary leaders have been steadfast in developing the necessary infrastructure to support this evolution. As a result, today it ranks seventh for its digital competitiveness among the G20, while internet penetration across the country sits at an impressive 98%. The study outcomes demonstrate that citizens and residents have been very much part of this journey – largely opting for online options over in-person experiences, as they benefit from the country’s increasingly advanced digital framework.”Receivers hold strong influence over frequency and flow of moneyThe research also shows that receivers of funds strongly influence how much and how often their senders transfer money. Overall, 34% of senders say their families or loved ones’ financial situation drives decisions on the frequency and flow of money. Sixty eight percent also say their receiver influences the company they choose to send money through, and 74% state their transfer method of choice (digital, retail or a mix) is dependent on how their receiver can collect the money.Looking at the broader macro-economic climate, a significant number of consumers expect to send (74%) or receive (66%) more money in the next 12 months. However, senders also struggle with a cost-of-living dichotomy: 73% of senders say that because cost-of-living has increased in their receiving country, they now need to send more money; yet 67% state that higher cost-of-living in their current country of residence, means they are not able to transfer as much as they did previously.“Providing a crucial link between senders and receivers helps consumers build a bridge to financial stability and opportunity,” Farah said. “As we adapt to higher costs-of-living, supporting consumers as they move up the economic ladder becomes even more important. The public and private sectors have a collective role to play here. If we collaborate effectively, we will be able to offer even stronger financial opportunities and experiences that will ultimately help them better manage their financial lives.”Women prioritize why they send cross-border money transfers differently to menThe study also shows that a greater number of women in Saudi Arabia send money transfers more often than once a month, compared to men. Nearly a quarter of the women surveyed (vs. 21% of men) say they move money multiple times within a month.Paying for family support is the primary reason why men move money (55%). While this is of utmost importance to many women as well (42%), women also place stronger emphasis on reasons such as paying for financial commitments, future savings and education payments. “Globally, women comprise slightly less than half of today’s expatriate workers,” Farah concluded. “They are more empowered than ever before, as they move internationally and shape global economies. In line with Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is focused on attracting the finest local and international minds to bolster economic development. Their ambition to increase women’s participation in the workforce to 30% by 2030 means that ensuring greater access to financial services is imperative, particularly with the rise of new technologies.”épolis-and-ithra-dubai-to-develop-10-screen-cineplex

Global brand Cinépolis and Ithra Dubai to develop 10-screen cineplex

Cinépolis Cinemas, the largest movie exhibitor in Latin America and the third largest in the world, has signed a Management Agreement with Ithra Dubai to partner in a 10-[AY1] screen cineplex, as part of the Deira Enrichment Project which will feature their family-friendly Junior concept, as well as an outdoor rooftop screen.Ithra Dubai, a fully-owned subsidiary of Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), provides strategic oversight by developing projects such as the Deira Enrichment Project in Deira, a place rich in culture and overflowing with history.Lachlan Gyde, Executive Director Asset Management for Ithra Dubai commented: “We are pleased to partner with Cinépolis and welcome their international and local experience which will further reinforce our core value of enriching the lives of people we serve. The Cinema will most certainly be a valued entertainment addition to this exciting emerging community, for residents and visitors alike.”The brand has a well-established footprint throughout the GCC, with theatres in Oman, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. In the UAE, Cinépolis opened its cineplex in Sharjah Oasis Mall in 2020. Cinépolis Deira, expected to open by first quarter 2024, will be the eleventh theatre to welcome visitors under the Cinépolis umbrella.Alejandro Aguilera, CEO of Cinépolis Cinemas, said: “Deira will be the first Cinépolis project in Dubai, a metropolitan hub in which we plan to expand our presence and bring our international expertise. Our goal is to offer the best cinema experience and continue to prioritize customer experience”.The cinema will house ten screens with state-of-the-art auditoriums and will feature the brand’s signature reclining Standard and Deluxe seats, which offer an exclusive luxury viewing experience and boast personal amenities and advanced storage solutions.Catering to the needs of younger cinemagoers, Cinépolis Junior will offer a jungle gym, bean bag seating, and 15-minute intermissions halfway through the film to allow children to take a break.An alternative to traditional screens is the outdoor rooftop, which will not only provide plush and comfortable seating with high-definition viewing, but will also provide access to breathtaking views of The Creek.Cinépolis Cinemas is known globally for its legendary popcorn and delectable hot food, which the brand will be rolling out to the new Deira project.Excellent service has always been at the core of Cinépolis, and customer convenience is something the brand has always prioritized. To make the cinema experience as simple and hassle-free, one service the brand will roll out is their contactless ordering, which allows all moviegoers to book and pay for their food and beverages from the comfort of their seats, using a customized QR code.

Nothing appoints Rishi Kishor Gupta as Business Lead the for Middle East

 London-based consumer technology company Nothing, announced today the appointment of Rishi Kishor Gupta as Business Lead for its Middle East operations.Rishi, a veteran in the consumer technology space with over 15 years’ of experience, will be responsible for driving growth in the highly-competitive market, and spearheading business development and operations for Nothing in the region. With his vast experience in retail and international consumer markets, Rishi was instrumental in establishing Huwai’s operation and spearheading its strategic growth in the Middle East.“2022 has been a milestone year for Nothing with the launch of our first smartphone, Phone (1), and reaching the one million products sold mark. As we are gearing up towards 2023, it is time for us to explore new markets” said Steven Gao, VP of Growth and Co-Founder of Nothing. “We are seeing a lot of opportunities in the Middle East and I am thrilled to welcome Rishi to the team as we are getting ready to accelerate our efforts there. With his proven track record and experience, he will play a pivotal role in our region’s growth.” "I am very excited to be part of Nothing’s journey. It has been very inspiring watching Carl and the team make such a breakthrough in the industry over the last two years,” said Rishi Kishor Gupta, as Business Lead, Nothing Middle East. “Phone (1) has been one of the most anticipated smartphone launches of the year and I look forward to working with local partners so that people in the Middle East can get their hands on it.”

Deloitte appoints Rashid Bashir CEO of Consulting in the Middle East

Rashid Bashir has been appointed the new CEO of the Consulting practice at Deloitte Middle East. He will start his new role on 1 January 2023, succeeding Tim Parr, who is set for retirement.Mutasem Dajani, CEO of Deloitte Middle East commented, “In the last five years, and under the leadership of Tim Parr, the consulting business has witnessed substantial growth in all areas including talent, client base and offerings. We are now market leaders in digital banking, investing in client centric facilities including a digital studio in Dubai and a digital center in Riyadh.” “Tim is succeeded by Rashid Bashir who will be leading our consulting practice as it enters a new and ambitious stage of growth. Rashid has played a critical role in delivering our strategy and serving the governments of the region, and I am confident he will bring his vision for the business, understanding of the market and his passion for our people and clients to his new leadership role,” added Dajani.Rashid will transition from his current role as Chief Strategy Officer and as lead partner for the Government and Public Services practice at Deloitte Middle East.Commenting on his appointment, Rashid Bashir said, “The creativity and innovation we offer will enable and drive forward the socio-economic transformation happening across the region. We aim to be the advisors of choice in the GCC market, and I am committed to bringing the best of Deloitte to the region.” “Against a backdrop of constant change – be it climate, technological or economic – governments and the private sector will continue to transform. Our ambition is to become the largest Consulting practice in the region, nurturing the national talent and serving our clients with distinction. My leadership team will include three women partners and 12 different nationalities, championing diversity and inclusion,” added Bashir.Rashid has been advising national governments in the GCC on socioeconomic transformations and will continue to advise on large-scale government projects across the region. He has substantial experience working on some of the most complex policy issues facing governments, including economic growth, job creation, education, innovation and entrepreneurship.Rashid holds an MBA in Strategy from Strathclyde Business School in Scotland and a Master of Philosophy in Economics from The University of Glasgow. Before moving to the Middle East 12 years ago, Rashid was a strategy consultant with Deloitte UK.

InMobi appoints Regional Business and Sales Leads

 InMobi, a leading provider of content, monetization, and marketing technologies, has announced the appointment of regional leaders for its newly expanded partnership with Microsoft Advertising in the Middle East and Africa. To build the momentum with the recently announced partnership, InMobi has appointed Jacob Joseph as the Business Head for Microsoft Advertising in Middle East and Africa while Priyanka Nambiar will be the sales lead for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets. They will support InMobi’s efforts to grow, retain, and enable strategic and enterprise advertisers in the UAE and wider region. In addition, Nilay Yucedag, Janette Hardman and Seun Methowe, are appointed as sales leads for Turkey, South Africa and West & East Africa.“The ramping up of the team in-market reinforces InMobi’s commitment to drive growth for Microsoft Advertising in the Middle East and Africa and will enable InMobi to better cater to customers through deeper connections, collaboration, and curated servicing across the several clusters within the region,” shared Rohit Dosi, VP and GM, Microsoft Advertising at InMobi.InMobi had recently announced the expansion of its partnership with Microsoft Advertising to lead the enterprise and strategic sales, account management, marketing, finance, collection, and billing across the Middle East and Africa.Talking about this development, Mike Luscombe, Senior Partner Sales Lead, Middle East, Africa, and Turkey at Microsoft Advertising, shared, “We are thrilled to welcome these extremely diverse and talented set of experts at InMobi to drive growth for Microsoft Advertising in the region. I look forward to working closely with each one of them and enhancing the value our clients derive from this partnership.”Welcoming the regional presence, InMobi client Vittorio Barraja, Senior Director – Biddable Media, PHD UAE said, “InMobi’s in-market presence is great news as we work to maximize impact for brands like HSBC by leveraging the Microsoft Advertising platform. The strategic approach, technology expertise, and deep knowledge brought by the InMobi team will be invaluable to advertisers in the region.”InMobi has already seen a strong uptick in the adoption of Microsoft Advertising offerings among over 50 key clients across the travel, retail, and finance, industries since the announcement of the partnership. In September 2022, Microsoft Advertising announced the availability of its offerings in over 30 new markets across the Middle East and Africa including UAE, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guinea, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Moldova, Namibia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Réunion, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Tajikistan, Tanzania, The Gambia, Togo, and Zimbabwe.In addition to English, the ads are now supported in Arabic, Hebrew, and Russian languages as well.InMobi <> Microsoft Advertising Lead ProfilesJacob Joseph, Business Head – Microsoft Advertising, Middle East and Africa, InMobiJacob Joseph is the Business Head for Microsoft Advertising in the Middle East and Africa at InMobi. He is a result-driven, persistent and analytical professional with over 11 years of experience in working across enterprise and startup organizations such as Zomato, Radio Mirchi, and InMobi. He relishes using his people management and interpersonal skills to connect with and build deep relationships within the technology and advertising community.Priyanka Nambiar, Sales lead – Microsoft Advertising, GCC region, InMobiA digital media enthusiast with over 8 years of experience in sales, Priyanka has explored several avenues ranging from display ads, native advertising, content (video and podcast), and co-branded activations with her previous employers at Manorama Online and Business Standard in Mumbai and Khaleej Times in the UAE.

COFE App signs agreement with Saudi Coffee Company

COFE App, the premier online coffee marketplace recently announced the signing of an agreement with the Saudi Coffee Company (SCC). As per the agreement, COFE App will be the premium online partner for SCC supporting them in amplifying their reach to coffee lovers in the Kingdom and beyond. This strategic partnership between COFE and SCC is aimed at propelling the Saudi coffee industry into the digital era, consequently empowering local producers to connect with end users with greater ease and convenience.The partnership between COFE App and SCC is set to propel the coffee e-commerce sector further, making Saudi grown beans available to coffee lovers through COFE’s mobile app. Both companies are united in the purpose to transmit technology and knowledge to the Kingdom in a number of areas, including coffee production, roasting, marketing, and sales, as well as all other activities, in order to promote the Kingdom as a frontrunner in the sector.Commenting on the agreement, COFE App Founder & CEO, Ali Al Ebrahim expressed: “It is a proud moment for us at COFE to be working with SCC. We hope that this partnership will help in giving Saudi coffee the visibility and reach that it truly deserves. Through our work in Saudi, we hope to take this integral part of our culture and tradition to the world. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in making this possible. It is truly the beginning of something great.”The platform has seen wide-spread acceptance from users in the Kingdom and was listed as the Top 10 Most Downloaded Food Delivery and Restaurant Apps (2021) in the kingdom in a survey conducted by Communication & Information Technology Commission (CITC) of Saudi Arabia.SCC is a Public Investment Fund (PIF) company launched by the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia with a mandate to develop the Saudi coffee industry. SCC plans to invest over SAR 1.2 billion ($319 million) in the national coffee sector over the next ten years to increase annual output from 300 tons today to more than 2,500 tons by 2030. Saudi’s domestic coffee market was estimated to be worth $1.96 billion in 2021, and is expected to grow to $2.78 billion by 2025.“It is a pleasure to be partnering with COFE App. Their passion for the cumulative growth of the coffee industry is very evident, and we are happy to say that they share both our vision and values. Coffee is a very integral part of Arabian culture and we wish for the world to witness it through our efforts. We hope that this partnership is the beginning of coffee lovers discovering the nuances of Saudi coffee and how it is ready to compete with some of the best producers in the world,” said Mohammed Zainy, Marketing Director of Saudi Coffee Company.As KSA transforms into a digital growing economy with a focus on locally grown coffee beans this might just be the next big thing in the evolution of the global coffee market.

The grand opening of the ftNFT shop, on December 22nd, in Dubai

SoftConstruct is an international tech giant that holds over 8 brands offering IT solutions to various industries, with over 300 partners and over 16 offices worldwide. As such, they had a vision to delve into the virtual and create ftNFT, a unique NFT Marketplace operating under the Fastex ecosystem – which in itself also includes Fastex Exchange, FastexVerse, Fastex Pay, Fastex Chain, FastToken and FirstTicket. Now, ftNFT is a concept that is meant to bring together all NFT and Crypto enthusiasts to a platform where they can interact with and experience these innovative services in a whole new way.People have started to pick up on all the noise surrounding this opening. The ftNFT shop has been turning heads and getting lots of attention and with good reason. The services it strives to bring forward have never been done in a physical form before, such as the ability to browse, buy and sell NFTs in person. Visitors can also interact with and look through a unique variety of physical art and even create 3D avatars of themselves through a professional 3D Scanner.When attending the grand opening, guests will have a special opportunity to meet NFT artists and exhibitors in person and to learn about their work firsthand. Among the attendees will be Amrita Sethi, the first NFT artist in the UAE and one that has created an original style of bringing art to life and vice versa through Voice Note Art. We will also see a wide collection of AKNEYE, a number of hand painted and unique eye sculptures, alongside the exclusive art toys by Chiko & Roko, all exhibited within the shop.Together, this creates a fully immersive virtual and personal experience within the shop. The establishment of ftNFT Shop brings forward a new era of virtual-to-reality integration and interaction in our world. It opens up new roads to endless new avenues for virtual exploration and allows interaction with NFTs and the Metaverse like never before. The special pass required to take part in the grand opening has been created in the form of a free NFT that a visitor can claim in order to gain entry to the grand event.Everything established by the ftNFT Marketplace has been with the intent to bring forward creative and bright ideas, and allow people to monetize their art while being able to trade with other collections. The first ftNFT Shop will be opened in the Mall of the Emirates, and the second will soon follow in Dubai Mall. By bringing these possibilities to two of the most luxurious shopping centres in the UAE, we make it possible for anyone to come in, learn more about the marketplace and take part however they like.The opening of the first ftNFT shop in the Mall of the Emirates is coming up on the 22nd of December. It’s beginning to excite all enthusiasts and inquisitive minds alike. Soon, we will be able to unveil the project and make the world of NFTs available to everyone.