beIN MEDIA GROUP secures Riyadh Season Cup media rights

beIN MEDIA GROUP (‘beIN’), the global sports and entertainment broadcaster, and its flagship sports channel beIN SPORTS, announced securing the media rights in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Türkiye, France, and Asia Pacific to the star-studded Riyadh Season Cup, the three-team exhibition tournament set to feature Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr, and Saudi Pro League leaders Al Hilal.All three matches will be broadcast live in MENA on beIN SPORTS’ free to air channel in Arabic, beIN SPORTS 1 ENGLISH in English, and in Ultra HD on beIN 4K. Al Hilal prolific scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic will face Messi’s Inter Miami at tonight’s (29 January) tournament opener; Messi and Ronaldo are expected to go head-to-head on Thursday, 1 February. One week later, on 8 February, Al Hilal will then face Al-Nassr, whom they lead by seven points at the top of Saudi’s domestic league.In MENA, beIN’s studio coverage for tonight’s opening match starts at 20.30 MECCA, with kick-off scheduled for 21.00 MECCA at the Kingdom Arena in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. As well as Messi, David Beckham-owned Inter Miami have a host of other star names, including former Barcelona trio Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba. Al Hilal meanwhile invested heavily last summer, securing the likes of Portugal’s Ruben Neves, Serbian pair Aleksander Mitrovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, and Yassine Bounou, the heroic Moroccan goalkeeper who shone at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.Thursday’s face-off between Miami and Al-Nassr is being billed as “The Last Dance” and will pit the two greatest players of the modern era against each other for, possibly, the last time in their professional careers. Messi, 36, and Ronaldo, who will turn 39 four days later on 5 February, between them share 13 Ballon D’or awards. They last faced each other a year ago in the inaugural Riyadh Season Cup when Al-Nassr slipped to a 5-4 defeat to Messi’s former club Paris Saint-Germain.Portuguese Ronaldo, who is expected to recover from a slight calf injury to lead Al-Nassr out at the Kingdom Arena, scored 54 goals in 59 games in 2023 to finish the year as the world’s top goal scorer. Al-Nassr have other star players in their squad, including the likes of Senegalese striker Sadio Mane, Spanish defender Aymeric Laporte, and Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozovic.

Vision for luxury: Gian Paolo's eyewear legacy in Dubai

Gian Paolo, Co-Founder of Vision Industry and Managing Director of Optitalia Group, recently shared insights with Adgully Middle East in an engaging interview. With a rich family history deeply rooted in the eyewear industry spanning several years, Paolo believes that eyewear is ingrained in his family's DNA.Vision Industry, under Paolo's leadership, stands as the epitome of innovation, design, and health in the eyewear sector. The establishment boasts an in-house eye clinic and laboratory, guaranteeing top-notch checkups and fittings. The care provided is akin to that of an eye hospital, emphasizing the commitment to ensuring the utmost well-being of their clientele.Can you provide a brief overview of your professional journey, leading up to your current role as Co-founder of Vision Industry and Managing Director of Optitalia Group?My professional journey in the eyewear industry began with the establishment of my first eyewear brand, Bacaro, in Venice in 2003. This venture fueled my passion for innovation, prompting me to expand into new territories. In 2005, I set up an Optical Chain, Italia Optique, in Cameroon, marking a significant international chapter in my career. The turning point came in 2007 when I joined Optitalia Group in Dubai, a leading eyewear distribution company. In my role as Managing Director, I spearheaded the setup of the retail division, culminating in the creation of VISION INDUSTRY, a pioneering concept store launched in Mall of the Emirates.What inspired you to start Vision Industry in Dubai?The inspiration to launch VISION INDUSTRY in Dubai stems from the city's dynamic and diverse retail landscape, coupled with its global reputation as a premier shopping destination. I envisioned a revolutionary eyewear experience that would not only redefine industry standards but also resonate with the discerning tastes of Dubai's cosmopolitan population. VISION INDUSTRY represents the fusion of customization, innovation, and a curated collection of luxury brands, tailored to the unique preferences of Dubai's diverse consumer base.Can you share some key challenges you have faced in the retail and direct channels of the eyewear industry and how you navigated through them?Navigating the complexities of the eyewear industry presented challenges in striking the right balance between customization and mass appeal. The introduction of the Design Lab at VISION INDUSTRY addressed this challenge by providing customers with a personalized eyewear journey, ensuring exclusivity while maintaining a curated collection of over 60 luxury brands. This strategic approach enabled us to navigate through the intricacies of retail and direct channels, creating a harmonious blend of accessibility and exclusivity.In the rapidly evolving eyewear industry, how do you stay abreast of market trends and ensure that Vision Industry remains competitive?Staying ahead of market trends requires a multifaceted approach, combining continuous market research, global exposure, and the strategic leverage of technology. VISION INDUSTRY remains competitive by embracing innovation, exemplified by our Design Lab that pioneers complete eyewear customization. Furthermore, our commitment to offering exclusive brands, including Celine, Bugatti, and others, positions us at the forefront of emerging trends, ensuring sustained competitiveness in the dynamic eyewear industry.What emerging trends do you see shaping the future of retail and direct channels in the eyewear sector?The future of eyewear is defined by experiential retail, customization, and sustainability. VISION INDUSTRY is at the forefront of these trends, with the Design Lab offering an immersive and personalized eyewear experience. Customers actively participate in creating bespoke eyewear, aligning with the growing demand for unique and sustainable products. The incorporation of a sustainable corner featuring glasses made from recyclable materials further underscores our commitment to environmental consciousness.How does Vision Industry prioritize and enhance the customer experience, both in retail stores and through direct channels?Customer experience is central to VISION INDUSTRY's ethos. The Design Lab at our retail store offers a personalized journey, allowing customers to actively participate in the creation of bespoke eyewear. Our comprehensive eye exams, conducted by licensed optometrists, ensure optimal eye health. The extensive range of eyewear brands, from sport to luxury, caters to diverse preferences, creating a seamless and enjoyable customer experience both in-store and online.How has technology played a role in the development and growth of Vision Industry?Technology plays a pivotal role in our growth trajectory. The Design Lab utilizes cutting-edge technology to enable customers to customize their eyewear, from material selection to frame shape and intricate design elements. Additionally, our online presence facilitates seamless bookings for the Design Lab experience, ensuring accessibility and convenience for our customers. Embracing technology allows us to provide an innovative and efficient eyewear experience, setting VISION INDUSTRY apart in the industry.What have been the trends in eye luxury retail over the years? What are your views about experiential retail and how is it helping the brands? How will the future of luxury retail shape?The evolution of eye luxury retail has witnessed a shift towards personalization and experiential elements. Exemplified by the Design Lab, experiential retail allows customers to actively participate in creating bespoke eyewear, fostering a deeper connection with the brand. Looking ahead, the future of luxury retail is poised to further embrace tailored experiences and sustainable practices. The emphasis on unique and immersive brand experiences will shape a more conscious and personalized luxury retail landscape, reflecting the evolving preferences and expectations of discerning consumers.

Xelement welcomes Diogo Borges as Executive Creative Director

Xelement, a leading full-service media agency, has appointed Diogo Borges as its Executive Creative Director. This strategic addition comes at a pivotal moment for the agency, hot on the heels of their recent success in winning Gold at the MENA Effie Awards.Boasting an impressive 22 years of creative experience, Borges brings a wealth of expertise to his new role. His illustrious career is underscored by numerous accolades, including prestigious awards from Cannes, D&AD, One Show, and Clio.Borges, in his LinkedIn account, writes: “Super excited to share that I kicked off a new gig with XELEMENT as ECD last week, leading a talented and skilled team. There's so much to explore about Saudi's fast-growing economy, but I can already tell that creativity and innovation are going to be a big player in its awesome future. Feeling lucky to be part of this amazing team that, just not share the same ambition and vision, but has been at the forefront of it for the past 10 years.” Borges' extensive international background, coupled with a nuanced understanding of the local market, positions Xelement to create even more impactful narratives. While the agency's recent triumph at the MENA Effie Awards serves as a noteworthy milestone, Borges' appointment signals a broader ambition to shape compelling narratives that resonate deeply with audiences.Amro Aboonoq, CEO of Xelement, expressed his enthusiasm for Borges joining the team, stating, “Diogo’s arrival at XELEMENT signifies a significant step towards elevating the success stories we craft. His global outlook, complemented by our established track record, sets the stage for our collective aspirations and achievements.”As a full-service media agency, Xelement offers a comprehensive suite of services, including creative endeavors, strategic marketing, branding, media buying, and consultancy. With Borges at the helm of creative direction, the agency is poised to deliver innovative and impactful campaigns that leave a lasting impression on clients and consumers alike.

OSN and AFAC announce winners of Writers Room, elevating Arab storytelling

OSN and the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) recently disclosed the recipients of the ‘Writers’ Room’ mentorship programme, which aims to cultivate compelling narratives within the Arab region. The initiative received an impressive 276 submissions during its open call, indicating substantial interest and engagement.The esteemed jury, comprising Writer Yam Machahdi, Director Hicham Lasri, Director Amin Dora, and Director Mariam Abou Ouf, undertook the challenging task of evaluating the entries to identify the most promising projects. From this competitive pool, six exceptional projects and their creators emerged victorious. The winning entries encompass a diverse range of themes and voices:• The Day of Your Meeting by Rida Benazzouza• The Art of Surviving by Tamer Mohammad Abdulhamid and Noha Hassan Hussien• Polaroid by Basant Ghonimy• Men Home La Hon (Plan B) by Marie-Louise Elia, Julien Kobersy, and Jean-Claude Boulos• Dyouf by Saleh Saadi• How to find love in 10 steps (Guide for Single Men) by Mostafa Youssef and Fatma Abed.The Writers Room program, initiated last year, aims to nurture these projects until they develop into fully-fledged limited series. This entails providing mentorship support, follow-up, and input from specialists and experts throughout the development process. The program seeks to establish a framework for series-writing in the region utilizing the writers' room method, fostering peer-to-peer learning, and encouraging participation in the creative process.Rolla Karam, Senior Vice President of Content Acquisition & Arabic Channels at OSN, emphasized the company's commitment to supporting local storytelling and nurturing emerging writers. Rima Mismar, Executive Director of the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, highlighted the initiative's goal of fostering a nurturing environment for emerging talents and bridging gaps in series development.The winning projects will undergo further development and potential distribution, with three residencies planned for February, May, and July 2024. These residencies will be led by Writers’ Room mentors Bassem Breche and Maha El Wazir. Additionally, winners will benefit from OSN’s right to a first look at their projects and the possibility of further development beyond the residency program.

BTEA announces the 8th edition of Bahrain Food Festival 2024

Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) launches the much-anticipated 8th Edition of the Bahrain Food Festival, a culinary extravaganza set to captivate palates from February 8th to 24th, 2024. This gastronomic celebration promises an unmatched fusion of flavors, creating an irresistible charm for both locals and tourists. In its 8th edition, the Bahrain Food Festival aims to elevate the culinary experience, offering a diverse range of delectable dishes that celebrate global flavors. Attendees can indulge in a gastronomic journey navigating continents, providing a unique opportunity to discover authentic dishes prepared by renowned chefs and culinary experts. From savory to sweet, traditional to contemporary, the festival boasts an impressive lineup of food vendors, ensuring a mouthwatering experience for all. The curated selection of culinary offerings is designed to reflect the rich diversity of global cuisine, making Bahrain Food Festival a true gastronomic wonderland. Beyond the culinary delights, the festival grounds will be alive with the vibrant energy of live musical performances, engaging games, and a plethora of exciting activities. The hosting of the Bahrain Food Festival is an integral part of the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority's (BTEA) strategic vision, focused on enriching the tourism sector through the implementation of diverse initiatives that collectively aim to elevate Bahrain's standing as a prominent destination in the world. The festival, as one of these initiatives, plays a vital role in attracting local and international visitors, ultimately boosting vibrant tourism ecosystem.

Amir Tabch Takes the Helm at Liminal Custody Solutions for Middle East Growth

Liminal Custody Solutions (Liminal), a digital asset custody and wallet infrastructure provider in the APAC and MENA region has announced the appointment of Amir Tabch as its CEO for the Middle East region. Tabch, a seasoned financial services executive and fintech pioneer, brings over two decades of experience in leading and scaling businesses across traditional and digital asset markets.Mr. Tabch joins Liminal Custody Solutions from Copper Securities (formerly Securrency Capital) in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). As Chairman and CEO, he played a pivotal role in establishing the company, securing regulatory approvals, and driving high-profile fundraising activities. Prior to that Mr. Tabch held senior leadership positions at SC Meta Markets, Emirates Investment Bank, and First Abu Dhabi Bank, where he honed his expertise in global markets, multi-asset trading, and regulatory compliance. "We are thrilled to welcome Amir to Liminal Custody Solutions," said Mahin Gupta, Founder of Liminal Custody Solutions. "His extensive experience in navigating complex regulatory environments, coupled with his proven track record of building and growing successful businesses, will be invaluable as we expand our global footprint and solidify our position as the trusted partner for digital asset custody in the Middle East." "I am excited to join Liminal Custody Solutions at this pivotal time in the digital asset industry," said Mr. Tabch. "The Middle East represents a tremendous opportunity for growth, and I am confident that Liminal's innovative custody solutions and commitment to regulatory compliance will be instrumental in unlocking the full potential of this market. I look forward to working with the Liminal team to build a robust and secure infrastructure for institutional investors in the region." Mr. Tabch's appointment is part of Liminal's strategic expansion in the Middle East and expansion of its custody offerings. The company announced the grant of an In-Principle Approval (IPA) by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) to operate as a custody provider for Virtual Assets. The company also recently welcomed Satya Venkata Chalapathi as Vice President of Risk & Compliance and Ajit Thakur as Head of Custody Operations to its regional team. Their combined expertise in digital asset security and operational excellence will further strengthen Liminal's capabilities in the region.

AI-enabled wearables may spark fresh debate on privacy: Kaspersky

AI-enabled wearables could spark debates about privacy, and the anticipated proliferation of AR and VR is likely to set new standards regarding privacy in 2024. At the same time, the significance of data breaches containing passwords is expected to diminish as two-factor authentication becomes more prevalent, and users enhance privacy with assistant bots.Data Privacy Day is held annually on January 28 to raise awareness on the topic. According to Kaspersky, the privacy field is undergoing a transformative moment due to the emergence of new technologies and evolving regulatory practices. Major events in 2023 in the social, economic and political spheres, as well as new technological trends, will be the main factors influencing the privacy landscape in 2024. Kaspersky experts’ predictions include:AI-enabled wearables may spark a fresh debate on privacy.While people have embraced devices like smartphones and smart assistants in their homes, wearables, especially those with cameras like smart glasses or AI pins, tend to evoke more suspicion. The overt nature of these devices could genuinely cause privacy-conscious individuals concern, assuming they gain popularity.AR and VR developments are poised to establish new privacy standards in 2024.Apple's product launches typically draw public attention, sparking discussions regarding privacy, especially when it comes to technologies that have not been regulated properly yet. With the introduction of Apple Vision Pro and the increasing integration of AR/VR into daily life, privacy concerns are likely to take center stage.Advancing privacy through the emergence of assistant bots.The growing prevalence of assistant bots, utilizing natural language processing (NLP), offers a compelling opportunity to enhance user privacy across diverse sectors. Envision a future where bot assistants play a crucial role in safeguarding personal data, particularly during calls. A sophisticated bot assistant could seamlessly handle user calls, ensuring sensitive information, such as the user's voice is protected.Leaked passwords will provide less cause for concern as their importance continues to decline.The primary reason for the decline in fears of leaked passwords is the rising prevalence of two-factor authentication where an additional code to confirm your login is sent via SMS or generated in a special authenticator application, such as Kaspersky Password Manage. Additionally, some services, like Google, already feature “passwordless” authentication via passkeys, while others favor biometric authentication over traditional passwords."In the era of evolving technologies, the notion of private data must extend beyond traditional boundaries. The advent of AI-enabled wearables, AR/VR developments, and the rise of assistant bots necessitate a broader understanding of privacy. As these innovations become integral to daily life, our concept of personal data must encompass not only what we willingly share but also the nuanced interactions and insights these technologies inherently possess,” comments Anna Larkina, security and privacy expert at Kaspersky.

YOUAE Mortgages introduces Mr Mortgage: UAE’s first mortgage AI Avatar

YOUAE Mortgages, a rapidly growing mortgage advisory firm in the region, is introducing UAE’s first Mortgage AI Avatar. With a client-centric approach, the firm envisions to offer a comprehensive and personalized mortgage experience. With the aim of revolutionizing the way individuals receive mortgage updates, the AI avatar will provide valuable insights, streamlined processes, and prompt assistance to clients.Mr. Mortgage increases efficiency and enables individuals to make informed decisions by informing clients about the latest market trends, interest rates, loan terms, etc. Customers get access to concise, engaging information on various mortgage topics."For the past ten years, my journey in mortgage sales has been defined by one core principle: placing the client at the Centre of everything I do. Client satisfaction is not just a priority; it is the very essence of my business. In my pursuit of providing exceptional service, I have long pondered the potential synergy between the mortgage and AI world. Mr. Mortgage is the result of figuring out how we could efficiently leverage AI to revolutionize the client experience and deliver greater value,” said Yash Trivedi, Founder of YOUAE Mortgages.Mr Mortgage’s introduction to the UAE comes at an excellent time, as the UAE government has recently announced the cancellation of the minimum down payment for property investors. Seeking to encourage more investors and residents to establish deeper roots in the country, investors can now qualify for the golden visa if the property’s value is Dh 2 million or more, irrespective of whether it is off-plan, completed, mortgaged, or not mortgaged. In comparison, investors previously had to pay at least Dh 1 million to be eligible for the 10-year residency visa.YOUAE Mortgages recognizes the complexities of the real estate market and the diverse financial needs of its clients. Through personalized advice, tailored mortgage solutions, and unparalleled customer service, they’re on the journey to simplify the mortgage process by equipping customers with the knowledge and resources necessary to make informed decisions.

Luca Delfino appointed new global Chief Commercial Officer at Maserati

Luca Delfino has been appointed Maserati’s new global Chief Commercial Officer. Following the announcement of the arrival of the new global Chief Marketing Officer at the beginning of January, the House of the Trident now welcomes the Italian manager to his new role, after serving as Managing Director for the EMEA Region for nearly three years.Luca Delfino is a well-known figure within the Modena-based company: he joined the Italian luxury brand in 2007 as Aftersales Business Manager for the Middle East, Africa, and European Markets. Over the years, he has built a successful career, having the opportunity to hold several crucial roles with increasing levels of responsibility.Thanks to his varied professional experience, he also had the opportunity to dive deep into several different markets of the brand, getting to know the global business landscape and enhancing the company’s rich expertise while holding significant positions that have contributed to the growth and expansion of the Italian manufacturer’s position within the luxury automotive landscape.His in-depth knowledge of the automotive sector and the Maserati Brand has been showcased by a remarkable path that includes the following roles: Regional Aftersales Manager Middle East/Africa, After Sales Director USA/Canada, General Manager Middle East & Africa, Sales and Product Director Middle East, APAC, Africa & India, Managing Director Asia Pacific (without China), as well as Head of Global Personalization “Fuoriserie” and Classic “Classiche” programs.With this new addition, the Maserati Leadership team can now count on a valuable, seasoned resource to tackle the important changes of the Brand’s new era of electrification.Davide Grasso, Maserati CEO: "Luca is one of us and we have had the chance to work with him closely these past years, and have appreciated his growth and many contributions. He was the natural choice for this significant role. As part of the Brand Leadership Team, he will play a crucial role in contributing to Maserati’s success during these challenging and exciting times for our industry.”Luca Delfino, Maserati CCO: “Maserati is my family, and I am very pleased to have been appointed to such a role of responsibility and prestige for a manager. Over the past seventeen years, I have grown up within the Italian company and have had the opportunity to also represent the Brand around the world in different roles and in various markets. This new commitment means a new challenge for me, and I am grateful to the Brand for once again putting its trust in me as we usher in a new era.”Maserati S.p.A.Maserati produces a complete range of unique cars, immediately recognizable for their extraordinary personality. Thanks to their style, technology, and innately exclusive character, they delight the most discerning, demanding tastes and have always been a benchmark for the global automotive industry. A tradition of successful cars, each of them redefining what makes an Italian sports car in terms of design, performance, comfort, elegance, and safety, currently available in more than 70 markets internationally. The ambassadors of this heritage are the Quattroporte flagship, the Ghibli sports sedan, the Levante – the first SUV made by Maserati, and the Grecale, the all-new “everyday exceptional” SUV, all models characterised by the use of the highest quality materials and excellent technical solutions. A range equipped with 4-cylinder hybrid powertrains – available for Ghibli, Grecale and Levante – V6 petrol and V8 petrol, with rear-wheel and four-wheel drive, embodying the performance DNA of the Trident Brand, now completed with the Grecale Folgore, Maserati’s first full-electric SUV. The top of the range is made up of the MC20 super sports car and the MC20 Cielo spyder, powered by the ground-breaking 100% Maserati Nettuno V6 engine, which incorporates F1-derived technologies into the power unit of a standard production car for the first time. The new GranTurismo is available with both the high-performance V6 petrol engine, derived from the Nettuno, and a 100% electric version: the GranTurismo Folgore, the first car in the Modena-based brand’s history to adopt this solution. By 2025, all Maserati models will also be available in a full-electric version, and the entire Maserati range will run on electricity alone by 2030.

IFS appoints Sophie Graham as Chief Sustainability Officer

IFS, the global cloud enterprise software company, today announced that it has appointed Sophie Graham as Chief Sustainability Officer. The role reflects IFS’s continued commitment to its sustainability strategy and ambition to accelerate the delivery of its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda.Sustainability is rapidly becoming a C-level and Board-level priority, in part driven by new regulations like the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and as well as by global agreements by heads of state. CSRD comes into effect in 2024 and will impact all companies listed on EU-regulated markets. For IFS, elevating sustainability includes maintaining strong performance internally, while embedding different sustainability capabilities in IFS Cloud. In her role as IFS Chief Sustainability Officer, Graham will oversee the successful delivery of IFS’s own strategy, working with the Executive Leadership Team to scale at pace across its global operations. Since 2021, Graham has spearheaded Sustainability and ESG at IFS, defining and implementing a successful multi-year strategy and has rapidly become a fervent IFS spokesperson and a thought leader often called upon by the media.IFS CEO Mark Moffat commented: “IFS is at an incredibly important juncture on ESG and, much like our customers, we are focused on accelerating the results that will have the impact we all look for. Sophie’s appointment is evidence of the strategic prioritization of sustainability at IFS, and our goal is to work hand in hand with our customers, sharing our knowledge, experiences and taking their input into our products. Moffat continued: “Through technology we can help transform and improve entire industries and positively affect people’s lives. In 2021, we started building capabilities that matter to our customers and where we knew they would deliver the most value to them. Moffat concluded: I am looking forward to continuing working with Sophie in her new role as we ramp up both our own efforts and our support in helping customers meeting their own goals.”Sophie Graham, Chief Sustainability Officer, IFS, commented: “I am a true believer in the potential that the technology sector has to drive change across different industries, providing the ‘how’ roadmap in the transition to a low carbon, more sustainable future. IFS has a clear sense of purpose, and I am very excited to continue building on the robust strategy we already have in place to drive even more lasting impact, across our team, customers, and partners.”With a background in environmental law, Graham has worked across EMEIA, Americas and the UK in the technology and finance sectors. Prior to IFS, Sophie led sustainability reporting at Santander UK, including investor ESG engagement. She also worked in the US, establishing an international charity partnership with the Red Cross, and heading up an ESG strategy across 7 countries in the Americas.IFS also shares that Stephen Keys, previously Chief Talent & Sustainability Officer, takes on a new strategic leadership role focused on our critical talent agenda as Chief Talent Officer, in addition to his role as Chair of the IFS Foundation. Stephen has been instrumental in pioneering IFS's approach to sustainability within the organization and will continue to drive adoption of sustainability practices in his new role.IFS is resolutely committed to sustainability, with a strategy based around three pillars of operational excellence, supporting customers and wider community impact. Transparency is key to building trust and ESG disclosures include the IFS Sustainability report produced annually alongside an ESG Fact Sheet.

Saudi Tourism launches new global marketing campaign with Messi

Saudi’s national tourism brand ‘Saudi Welcome To Arabia’ has kicked off another global marketing campaign featuring football legend and Saudi Tourism Ambassador, Lionel Messi.Launching across key target markets in Europe, India and China, the “Go Beyond What You Think” campaign is anchored on consumer insights, which revealed there are still common misconceptions about the destination, and invites audiences to experience the incredible and vibrant cultural transformation taking place across Saudi.The campaign brings to life the UN Tourism, ‘Tourism Opens Minds’ Initiative that was launched on World Tourism Day in Riyadh in September 2023, which extends a compelling invitation for travelers to broaden horizons and explore uncharted corners of the world.According to Saudi Tourism, the governments as well as the industry stake holders were presented with a special pledge, calling on them to promote new and under-appreciated destinations while consumers pledged to ‘be open-minded to new cultures and destinations, holding an open heart while travelling’Messi was one of many leading international figures who took that pledge. He has a fond connection with Saudi being a frequent visitor to the country, including most recently with his wife, Antonella and their two children last Spring, it stated.Both Messi and his family have expressed delight in their Saudi experiences and a desire to continue visiting the country.The latest ‘Saudi Welcome to Arabia’ brand campaign is a combination of TV, Social, Digital, and OTA tactics activated over a three-month period. It is the latest in a series of initiatives by Saudi Tourism to foster broadening of perspectives, and bridging cultures through tourism.Those that know Saudi have been encouraged to share positive experiences and memories on TikTok and social channels using the bi-lingual hashtags #ShareYourSaudi and in Arabic, said the statement.Boldly addressing these misconceptions head-on, the campaign’s powerful call-to-action encourages visitors to discover the unexpected beyond outdated stereotypes, with a hero video featuring Messi breaking down metaphorical ‘walls’ of various misconceptions about the country.The video showcases Saudi’s diverse locations, weather and terrain – from the pristine waters of the Red Sea to the lush green mountains in Aseer, snow covered Tabuk, the coastal city of Jeddah and Riyadh, the bustling capital.In celebration of Saudi’s activities and attractions, the Messi campaign highlights the Diriyah E-Prix, Riyadh Season’s theme park rides, AlUla’s hot air balloon flights and MDL Beast music events.Saudi Tourism said the campaign also places a spotlight on Saudi’s open and welcoming culture and the importance of inspiring young Saudi women to reach their full potential.Messi celebrates the Saudi women who have been trailblazers in their fields and leading Saudi’s cultural transformation such as the Saudi Women’s National football team, motorsport athlete Dania Akeel, DJ Cosmicat, and Rayyanah Barnawi, the first Saudi woman in space.With a powerful entry, Saudi continues to pioneer a new era of tourism development and growth through the creation of new destinations and show-stopping experiences, embracing sustainability and enabling world-class culture, entertainment and sports scenes to flourish.Saudi especially comes alive during its sunny Winter Season – this year the country is hosting 17,000 events, making it 'the world's most happening winter'. Ongoing events include Riyadh Season, Jeddah Season and Diriyah Season, with notable events coming up including the Saudi Cup (February 23-24), Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (March 7-9), AlUla Arts Festival (February 9 to March 2) and AlUla skies festival (April 10 to 27).Of note, the campaign is launching ahead of Messi’s imminent and much-anticipated Saudi return playing two matches with his current Club, Inter Miami, against Al Nassr on February 1 and against Al Hilal on January 29.

Titan Eye+ strengthens footprint in UAE with strategic openings

As it commemorates its 1-year anniversary in the region, Titan Eye+ has launched two more stores in the UAE following the first successful international opening in Bur Juman last year.India’s largest eyewear company’s impressive footprint of 860+ Titan Eye+ stores across 300 different cities in India has now been further enhanced with 3 stores in the UAE.Conveniently located at Sahara Centre, Sharjah and City Centre Al Shindagha, each spacious new store is well-stocked with 1000+ prescription frames and sunglasses that can be paired with best-in-class lenses like Titan ClearSight that are manufactured in-house. The offering is further complemented by an unrivalled range of contact lenses, and top international fashion brand frames and accessories amalgamating expertise in optometry, product design and manufacturing.From in-depth lifestyle-based advice to informed product suggestions, not to mention a 20-step free Zero error eye test for the most exact measurements and a 60-minute delivery window, the in-store services are designed to give customers a comprehensive and unrivalled eyecare retail experience that seamlessly blends technology and style with empathy. Membership to Encircle, Titan’s award-winning loyalty programme will also be available for those wanting additional exclusive rewards and experiences.“Titan Eye+ remains steadfast in its commitment to providing exceptional service levels and a comfort zone by tailor-making its offering to the region’s discerning and multicultural audience," said Kuruvilla Markose, CEO-International Business Division, Titan Company Limited.“They’ve been so receptive to our multi pronged approach to optometrical purchases and this initial success has encouraged us to undertake a robust route for expansion across key areas of the UAE.”“We believe that selecting eyewear is a sensitive and very personal issue in which exercising all options is recommended. Our staff is trained in these aspects so whether the customer is conservative or seeking to make a fashion statement, our team knows exactly what steps to take to ensure customer satisfaction," he added.Discerning customers will appreciate the brand’s range of progressive lenses available only at Titan Eye+. Titan Ultima’s innovative ultra-thin lens adapt faster providing the wearer with high image stability by reducing any distortions that often accompany a progressive lens. While most progressive lenses take around 14 days to adapt, it is proven that Titan Ultima takes just a day for most consumers. The brand has also recently launched Neo Sync in this portfolio, a new free-form progressive lens that dynamically adjusts to suit any lifestyle, providing a wide viewing range at all distances.

Colm McLoughlin receives Lifetime Achievement Award at the Arabian Business 2024

Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, Colm McLoughlin was presented with the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2024 Arabian Business Achievement Awards held on 25th January at Atlantis The Royal, Dubai.Organised by ITP Media Group, the Arabian Business' flagship event, recognises individuals and organisations across a diverse range of categories including retail, e-commerce, healthcare, technology, hospitality, and more, that have demonstrated exceptional performance over the past year.The headline award of the evening, The Lifetime Achievement award, acknowledged McLoughlin for his pivotal role in shaping Dubai Duty Free and the duty-free industry in the region across four decades of unprecedented growth and achievements.Commenting on the award McLoughlin said, “I am thrilled and delighted that I have been selected to receive this special award and thank ITP Media and the panel of judges for their votes. It is hard to believe that I have been with Dubai Duty Free for 40 years and have witnessed the enormous growth and development of the operation in tandem with that of the UAE. My thanks as always to my family, to our terrific team of staff and of course to our Chairman HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, for his ongoing support.”McLoughlin now follows the footsteps of other UAE luminaries who have received this award, including H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qassimi, Ruler of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, H.E. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Mohamed Alabbar, Chairperson of Emaar and Mohammed Alshaya, CEO of Al Shaya Group.McLoughlin was joined at the black-tie event by his wife Breeda and son Niall, along with his wife Sherly. Also, in attendance to celebrate with him were Dubai Duty Free’s Salah Tahlak, Joint COO; Sinead El Sibai, Senior Vice President - Marketing, Dr. Bernard Creed, Senior Vice President – Finance and Michael Schmidt, Senior Vice President – Retail.Special awards recognising the Sustainability Company of the Year, Start-Up of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Developer of the Year and Businessperson of the Year were also presented during the night.The awards were adjudged by a distinguished panel of judges consisting of business, professional, and academic experts in the Middle East and was externally audited ensuring fairness and transparency of the judging process.

Elon Musk's xAI seeks $6 billion to challenge OpenAI

Elon Musk's AI ambitions take a bold leap forward as his AI start-up xAI aims to raise a staggering $6 billion from global investors. This move positions xAI as a major contender in the burgeoning generative AI arena, with OpenAI, backed by Microsoft, as its key target.The fundraising push spans continents, with xAI courting wealthy individuals and investors worldwide. Whispers of talks with family offices in Hong Kong, despite the territory's complex ties with Beijing, highlight the intensifying global AI race.Musk's vision for xAI is ambitious. He seeks a $20 billion valuation, fueled by the $6 billion capital injection. This hefty sum reflects the colossal resources needed to develop cutting-edge generative AI models, demanding vast computing power, data, and specialized chips.However, negotiations are in a flux, and Musk's target raise might shift. He's reportedly explored additional avenues, including sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and potential investors in Japan and South Korea.Meanwhile, xAI has already taken its first steps. In December, it launched Grok, a chatbot trained on social media data, touted to offer more current and comprehensive responses than rivals.The pressure is on, as OpenAI boasts a sizable $13 billion war chest injected by Microsoft alone. Additionally, Anthropic and Cohere, fueled by tech giants like Google and Amazon, join the competition.Musk's past connection to OpenAI adds an intriguing layer. He co-founded the company but later disagreed with its direction, particularly its perceived lack of safety measures and alleged censorship tendencies. This fueled his decision to launch xAI in July 2023.Financial details of xAI's past funding remain murky. Public filings reveal a $1 billion fundraising goal through equity investors, with $135 million already secured. A reported $500 million raise in January further adds to the uncertainty.Despite the complexities surrounding xAI's financial state, one thing is clear: Musk's AI ambitions are not to be underestimated. Whether xAI secures the coveted $6 billion and dethrones OpenAI remains to be seen, but one thing is certain - the battle for AI supremacy has just entered a new, high-stakes chapter.

AI takes center stage in sports: PwC research

PwC, a leading global professional services firm, has unveiled groundbreaking research showcasing the transformative impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the sports industry. The study reveals how AI is revolutionizing fan engagement, boosting revenue, and shaping the future of sports across various domains.AI-Driven Personalization: Elevating Fan EngagementPwC's research underscores the pivotal role of artificial intelligence in reshaping the sports industry. From streamlining ticket purchasing to halftime snack deliveries, AI-driven capabilities are enhancing fan engagement, fostering loyalty, and driving increased revenue for sports organizations. It emphasizes the importance of responsible AI practices and robust data governance in designing these innovative fan experiences.Transformative Trends in Sports ConsumptionThe rise of streaming services and direct-to-consumer (DTC) sports consumption is changing how people experience sports. Traditional regional sports networks are adapting to challenges by exploring over-the-air broadcasting, creating DTC streaming platforms, and forming strategic partnerships with streaming organizations. PwC explores this new era of sports consumption and the strategies adopted by leagues and teams to thrive in the evolving landscape.League Expansion: Unlocking Growth OpportunitiesPwC's research highlights the thrilling growth opportunities presented by league expansion in the sports industry. From potential European expansion in the NFL to the consideration of domestic and international teams in the NBA, leagues are eyeing new markets and larger audiences. The report predicts continued growth in sports valuations in 2024, with ancillary businesses benefiting from increased investment in sports technology and live entertainment.Rising Sports Valuations and Diversified InvestmentThe study delves into the significant M&A activity in the sports industry in 2023, showcasing record valuations for professional sports teams. PwC predicts continued valuation increases in 2024, with ancillary businesses benefiting from sustained interest in sports investing. The report highlights the diversification of investment sources, including family offices, sovereign wealth funds, and private equity funds expanding their presence in sports and entertainment.Game-Changing Momentum in Women's SportsPwC highlights the record-breaking growth in women's sports in 2023, encompassing viewership, attendance, sponsorships, and media rights deals. The report predicts increased investment in women's sports leagues in 2024, emphasizing the potential for economic sustainability and influence in the dynamic sports landscape.Entertainment Districts: Revolutionizing Fan ExperiencesThe research explores the emergence of entertainment districts as a focal point for fan experiences beyond game day. Leading sports organizations are creating additional revenue streams and enhancing fan engagement through mixed-use entertainment districts. PwC predicts that these districts will become integral to major new venue development projects announced in 2024.The Power of Sports Narratives: Boosting EngagementPwC examines the surge in popularity of sports narratives, including documentaries and unscripted content. The report emphasizes the impact of compelling stories on viewership, fan engagement, and sports revenue streams. It anticipates more leagues and teams focusing on telling captivating stories about athletes off the court to enhance viewer interest in 2024.Seismic Moves in Sports BettingThe research delves into the dynamics of online sports betting, legal in 26 states with ESPN and Fanatics making strategic moves in the market. PwC predicts that in 2024, while market dominance may be challenging, companies like ESPN and Fanatics can enhance customer connections and gain valuable consumer behavior insights in the sports betting sector.NCAA Division I Realignment: Shaping the Future of College SportsPwC explores the ongoing realignment of NCAA Division I schools, predicting continued changes in college sports in 2024. The report discusses the financial gains and challenges associated with realignment, highlighting potential impacts on athletes, fans, and the NCAA itself.Rise of Soccer in the USThe research concludes by spotlighting the rise of soccer in the US, citing factors such as the growing prominence of US leagues and accessibility to broadcasts. PwC predicts sustained growth in Major League Soccer, emphasizing the impact of international stars like Lionel Messi on the league's accelerated expansion.

Rack Centre appoints Lars Johannisson as Chief Executive Officer

 Rack Centre, West Africa's Best-connected Carrier and Cloud neutral data centre has announced the appointment of Lars Johannisson as its new Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Johannisson, an accomplished leader with extensive experience in transformative industries, assumes the role effective January 2024.According to the Group Chief Executive Officer of Rack Centre, Jasper Lankhorst, the company Is excited to welcome Lars into the leadership team of Rack Centre with his wealth of experience and robust industry knowledge."We are delighted to welcome Lars Johannisson as the new Chief Executive Officer of Rack Centre. His wealth of experience and strategic leadership will propel Rack Centre to new heights. I have full confidence in Lars's ability to steer our company towards continued success, and I look forward to working closely with him to advance our position as a leading data centre provider”, said Lankhorst,Speaking on his new role as the CEO of Rack Centre, Johannisson highlighted the company's market leadership and its leading position as a Carrier and Cloud neutral Tier-III Data centre in Nigeria. He expressed his commitment to contributing to the digital ecosystem growth in Nigeria and is delighted to be part of a team dedicated to launching a new hyperscale-ready, 12MW data centre facility in Lagos in 2024.Lars has extensive experience working in Telecom, IT Delivery, Managed Services, and Digital skilling. He is passionate about leading organizations in transformative industries in Africa over the last 14 years and has executed large B2B projects in more than 30 Sub-Saharan countries.He holds an MBA in General Management/Finance from the Stockholm School of Economics and has completed the Stanford University Executive Program on "Design, Innovation and Business Transformation.He has actively participated in "Digital and Economic Inclusion" discussions in Sub-Saharan Africa and has sponsored economic inclusion initiatives for hiring and training youth in IT through partnerships with major CSV partners.Before joining Rack Centre, Johannisson was the CEO of Teleperformance in Sub-Saharan Africa, heading the world's leading company in digital CX and BPO in the group's emerging market and previously at Ericsson, SolarNow and the YNV Group.Rack Centre's robust ecosystem includes over 64 telecommunication carriers, Internet Service Providers, global Tier 1 networks, and pan-Africa international carriers. The company achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first International Finance Corporation (IFC) EDGE certified data centre in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This certification officially designates Rack Centre as the first Green Certified Data Centre in Africa, further solidifying its position as the most connected facility in the West African region, according to its Peering DB ranking.

Visa Red Bull Formula One teams announce global partnership

The Formula One grid is charging into the 2024 season with a new look and new support. Red Bull F1 Teams and Visa announced an unprecedented multi-year agreement where Visa will become the first global partner of both Red Bull F1 teams, bringing a new look team to the F1 grid in the form of Visa Cash App RB, formerly Scuderia AlphaTauri.Visa’s first new major global sports sponsorship in more than 15 years, the agreement encompasses the Visa Cash App RB team, corresponding title partnership on the F1 Academy team entry and the Oracle Red Bull Racing team. The Visa logo appearing on both the Oracle Red Bull Racing and Visa Cash App RB cars as well as the F1 Academy entries from the respective teams.“This is a groundbreaking partnership, and a great opportunity for the Visa brand to engage one of the fastest-growing sports communities on the planet,” said Frank Cooper III, Chief Marketing Officer, Visa. “This alliance resonates strongly with Visa’s vision to inspire individuals to ‘make it,’ striving to take small steps for improvement each day, during every race or event.”Visa Cash App RB Races into the FutureVisa Cash App RB Drivers Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Daniel Ricciardo of Australia will sport a newly designed Visa and Cash App inspired car livery and driver’s kit when the F1 2024 racing series kicks off in Bahrain on February 29. The full livery unveil will take place during a special Las Vegas event on February 8.Beyond the high impact branding opportunities with Visa Cash App RB, the two companies are committed to both propelling the team to excellence on the grid and providing cardholders opportunities to get closer to the action through team activities including behind the scenes access, driver meet and greets, merchandise and elevated hospitality at races.“It’s fantastic to reveal the new identity and to welcome new partners as we embark on the next phase of the team’s Formula 1 story,” said Peter Bayer, Chief Executive Officer of the newly named Visa Cash App RB team. “Faenza is entering a new era of racing, staying true to our roots as a hothouse for talent but now with an even greater focus on competing for the biggest prizes in F1. We have a bold vision for the team led by myself and Team Principal, Laurent Mekies and having future-focused partners such as Visa and Cash App alongside us on that journey is hugely exciting.”Championing Equality in Motor SportsVisa has long been committed to women’s empowerment and economic advancement through sponsorship platforms. Furthering that commitment, Visa and Cash App will join Red Bull to champion Visa Cash App RB in the F1 Academy series. The all female driving series takes place at seven select F1 tracks over the same weekend as the F1 races. This livery will also be unveiled during February’s special event.“We’re thrilled to embark on this journey with Visa and Red Bull,” said Catherine Ferdon, Head of Brand, Cash App. “The Visa Cash App RB team and Cash App are dedicated to connecting people and communities, and there’s no greater unifier than sports. With the continued growth of Formula One in the US, this sponsorship allows us to deepen our relationship with Formula One fans and furthers Cash App’s commitment to supporting and growing the culture of F1 fandom in the United States while offering more value to our customers. We have a history of elevating emerging talent and look forward to sponsoring a team known for developing incredible up-and-coming drivers.”“The birth of Visa Cash App RB is a hugely significant moment,” said Oliver Hughes, Chief Marketing Officer at Red Bull Technology. “The new identity is not simply a name change, it’s the start of a thrilling new journey designed to take the team to new levels of competitiveness and that’s demonstrated in the presence of one of the world’s most iconic brands as the team’s title partner. But, like the team, Visa is firmly focused on the future, expanding from its world-leading position in its core business to become a global pacesetter in the development of digital financial services for everyone, everywhere. Matching that commitment to future finance, Cash App joins the team as a key partner and as one of the most downloaded finance apps. The team’s new identity as Visa Cash App RB leans into a future in which the team charges towards the front of the grid every weekend.”Note to Editors – About:Visa Cash App RB: With more than 350 race starts and counting, Red Bull’s Italian Formula 1 team has been one of the sport’s most consistent and important competitors since 2006.Launched as Scuderia Toro Rosso and charged with bringing future champions to the grid, the team was successful in launching the top level careers of a generation of drivers who have gone on to win races and world championships in Formula 1 and beyond. The success continued following the teams’ 2020 rebrand as Scuderia AlphaTauri, with victory at the Italian Grand Prix in its first season. Now reborn with an expanded mission to battle for the sport’s biggest prizes, Visa Cash App RB team is powering into a new era of competition at the pinnacle of motor sport.Visa: Visa (NYSE: V) is a world leader in digital payments, facilitating transactions between consumers, merchants, financial institutions and government entities across more than 200 countries and territories. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, convenient, reliable and secure payments network, enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. We believe that economies that include everyone everywhere, uplift everyone everywhere and see access as foundational to the future of money movement. Learn more at App: Cash App is the money app. It’s the easy way to spend, send, and store money. Sending and receiving money is free and fast, and most payments can be deposited directly to an external bank account in just a few seconds. With Cash App, customers can also buy and sell Bitcoin instantly, get a paycheck deposited right to the app, create a unique $cashtag to share with anyone to get paid fast, and use the Cash App Visa prepaid debit Card to spend the money everywhere Visa Debit is accepted. Debit cards issued by Sutton Bank pursuant to a licence from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa International Service Association. All other trademarks and service marks belong to their respective owners. Download Cash App for free at Red Bull Racing: Since its inception, Oracle Red Bull Racing has been a major force in the FIA Formula One World Championship, the globe's premier motorsport category. Founded in 2005 to expand parent company Red Bull's presence in F1 and to disrupt the status quo within the sport through a bold mix of passion, playfulness, ambition and achievement, Oracle Red Bull Racing has grown to become one of F1's most successful teams. With multiple Constructors' and Drivers' world titles and more than 100 race wins to its credit, Oracle Red Bull Racing continues its pursuit of ultimate performance – as a race Team, as a home of champions and as an innovator operating at the cutting edge of technology.

CFI announces exclusive partnership with Paris Saint-Germain

CFI Financial Group, MENA's leading online trading provider, has unveiled a strategic partnership with the world-renowned football club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) until June 2026. This alliance marks a significant milestone in CFI's strategic expansion, celebrating the shared values of excellence, performance, and innovation, blending the worlds of finance and football in a unique fashion.With over a quarter of a century of industry experience, CFI has earned its position as MENA's premier online trading provider. Boasting more than twelve regulated entities across five continents, CFI serves a global client base spread over 100 countries, offering ultra-competitive trading conditions and cutting-edge platforms. Recent advancements, including the integration of AI technology, showcase CFI's dedication to empowering traders worldwide with the latest, advanced tools.The partnership with PSG is not just a collaboration but a celebration of synergy between finance and elite sports. It echoes the unique, progressive spirit of Paris, a city synonymous with passion, excellence, and a true spirit of innovation. The club's dedication to innovation, empowerment, and unique performance mirrors CFI's commitment to empowering traders and investors globally at the highest level.Hisham Mansour, Founder and Managing Director of CFI Financial Group, expressed: "We are incredibly excited to launch our partnership with Paris Saint-Germain, a football club synonymous with passion and its own unique brand identity. This venture represents a harmonious alignment of values, reinforcing our dedication to standing out as MENA's leading broker, offering unmatched trading services and optimal conditions. We are excited for the journey ahead, aiming to create a lasting legacy through this well-matched partnership with PSG."Marc Armstrong, Chief Revenue Officer of Paris Saint-Germain, added: "We are delighted to welcome CFI as one of our exclusive international partners. We share the same ambitions to offer our respective fans and clients increasingly unique and innovative experiences."This collaboration aims to strategically expand CFI's global presence, leveraging PSG's international recognition and vast international fan base. This exciting partnership is anticipated to bring many unique opportunities for CFI clients and PSG fans alike, with unique opportunities and tailored promotions for both sides to participate in and benefit from.With its distinguished international stature, Paris Saint-Germain is one of CFI’s key partners. This latest partnership complements the group's impressive lineup of sporting partners, including AC Milan, Sheffield United F.C., the Jordan Football Association, and the Lebanese Basketball Federation. This global partnership is a cornerstone of CFI's strategy to extend its global reach and influence. As an official partner of PSG, CFI looks forward to this new chapter of strategic global expansion.ème-son-come-together-to-unveil-sound-affects

Saatchi & Saatchi ME, Sixième Son unveil ‘Sound Affects’ for PTSD victims

Saatchi & Saatchi Middle East, a leading advertising and communications agency under Publicis Groupe ME, has teamed up with Sixieme Son, world leader in sonic branding and sound design, and Mindloop Studios, to launch a powerful campaign titled “Sound Affects”. Introducing the world's first sound effects library, the campaign channels 100% of royalty proceeds to aid in psychological treatment and traumatic support for individuals or refugees coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of acts of violence, war or other traumatic incidents. By turning royalty rights into human rights, ‘Sound Affects’ sheds light on the lingering reality of PTSD.  Research shows that 4 out of 5 PTSD episodes are triggered by sounds, with everyday noises taking victims back to their traumatic experiences and reopening their wounds. While several NGOs provide aid, sustaining funds is a recurring challenge, making it even harder for victims to get access to help.* To support NGOs dedicated to assisting trauma survivors, Sixieme Son and Saatchi & Saatchi used foley techniques to create a collection of sound effects made from everyday items, that mimic PTSD triggers. With an array of sounds ranging from gunshots to explosions, sirens and helicopter whirs, the collection is ideal for frequent users of sound effects clips in entertainment, advertising and audio-visual productions. “All of this could have been done digitally, but we wanted to be authentic and truly capture how real everyday sounds around us can take PTSD victims back to their disturbing past.” explains Ahmed Haffar, Managing Partner at Mindloop Studios and The Voice of Dubai.  Behind each sound, there lies a real story of trauma like Ferhana’s, a refugee from Kabul, who finds that the hum of her aunt’s sewing machine triggers memories of tanks tearing through her neighbourhood. By purchasing that track, buyers can directly support her (and others’) recovery journey(s).“Sound, here, demonstrates its tremendous emotional power. We are proud of this collaboration and the impressive work of all the teams involved”, adds Laurent Cochini, Managing Director of Sixième Son. “We know that sounds can have a lot of power. And now they have the power to make a difference.” says Sebastien Boutebel, Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi Middle East.  The Sound Affects collection is available at, with 100% of proceeds being directed to trauma reparation, establishing a sustainable and long-lasting donation mechanic for NGOs dedicated to helping victims around the world suffering from PTSD. By choosing Sound Affects, buyers not only enhance their creative projects but also contribute to the healing journeys of those affected by PTSD.

WPP unites BCW and Hill & Knowlton to create Burson

WPP has announced the merger of its two largest communications agencies, Hill & Knowlton and BCW, to form Burson, a powerhouse delivering modern communications leadership at scale to clients across the world. The merged company will become an industry-leading, full-service communications agency focused on building and protecting reputation.Corey duBrowa, currently global CEO of BCW, has been named global CEO of Burson and AnnaMaria DeSalva, currently global chairman and CEO of Hill & Knowlton, has been named global chairman of Burson. Together, they will oversee agency strategy, client service, employee experience and culture. Burson will be operational from July 1, 2024, and its new brand will be unveiled later this year.This union of agencies will enable Burson to best serve clients in a complex and volatile environment in which strategic stakeholder communications has never been more critical. The new agency will draw on both organisations’ unrivaled talent base, exceptional global networks, investments in technology, creative capabilities, and public affairs and advisory specialties to drive reputation and value creation through the interdisciplinary solutions that clients demand now.The combination also creates immediate scale in sectors driving today’s most consequential innovation and economic growth, including healthcare and technology. The newly formed Burson will have more than 6,000 employees in 43 markets worldwide. Its name honours the late Harold Burson, a pioneer and founding figure of modern public relations and strategic communications.“Harold Burson believed strongly that actions are stronger than words, and he established honesty, transparency, integrity and excellence as the guiding principles of his business,” said Corey duBrowa. “Those principles are the foundational ideals of Burson, upon which we will set the bar for modern communications through our AI-first innovation pipeline. Together as Burson, we will bring insights, expert strategic counsel and technology solutions into a higher value offering for our clients to help them innovate and lead in today’s complex operating environment.”“The combination of Hill & Knowlton and BCW is highly synergistic, creating a premier partner for business leaders who are focused on commercial growth, risk management, and reputational capital,” said AnnaMaria DeSalva. “Our body of work increasingly demonstrates that strategic communication, elevated by creativity, is a primary force for sustainable value creation. By accelerating our transformation through this combination, we will enable the investments in talent and technology that advance communications leadership when it has never mattered more.”Burson’s leadership team will comprise a cohort of top-tier former chief communications officers and other experienced agency senior executives from both companies who bring deep expertise and knowledge of what business leaders need to succeed. Appointments will be announced throughout 2024 as the integration progresses.Hill & Knowlton brings significant business momentum, talent and innovation into the new Burson entity. The brand will operate within Burson serving a select group of clients globally through strategic communications, advisory and public affairs services.GCI Health and AxiCom will continue to operate as brands within Burson, offering specialised healthcare and technology communications expertise, respectively, at scale.Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said, “Hill & Knowlton and BCW are two high-performing businesses with complementary strengths, shared ambitions and many shared clients. I am delighted to see the Burson brand brought back to unite them. The new agency will be the standard bearer as the most modern, strategic, technology-driven, full-service communications offer in the industry.”The new agency will support a client roster that includes more than half of the Fortune 100 across corporate and public affairs, healthcare, technology and brand marketing.

Microsoft to lay off 1,900 employees in gaming division

Microsoft's gaming division is set to lose nearly 1,900 employees, roughly 9% of its workforce, following the company's $69 billion acquisition of Activision-Blizzard.The news, confirmed in a memo by Xbox boss Phil Spencer, comes just three months after the blockbuster deal, sending shockwaves through the industry. While Spencer acknowledges the "painful decision," he stresses the move aims to streamline operations and focus resources on strategic priorities.The layoffs are expected to impact employees across the Xbox division, as well as publisher Zenimax, which houses renowned studios like Bethesda and Arkane. Details on the specific distribution of job cuts within each unit remain unavailable.However, a separate message to Blizzard staff by Microsoft Studios head Matt Booty confirms additional layoffs within the company. He assures affected employees of comprehensive support, including severance packages compliant with local regulations, while announcing the cancellation of a major survival game project known as Odyssey.This news follows a turbulent year for Microsoft's gaming business. Just in January, the company announced a broader 10,000-job cut across its entire operation. Additionally, Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick stepped down after the merger, while Blizzard head Mike Ybarra recently announced his departure, returning to being a "fan from the outside."This wave of layoffs reflects a broader trend within the gaming industry. Rising costs of living, coupled with a return to pre-pandemic market conditions after the initial Covid boom, have pressured companies to downsize and restructure. Earlier this year, prominent studios like Riot Games, Unity, and Twitch also witnessed significant job cuts.Experts estimate that the gaming industry shed over 10,000 jobs in 2023, with the actual number likely higher. While Microsoft's decision is undeniably a blow to many employees, it highlights the ongoing shift and consolidation within the gaming landscape.

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

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

PwC ME announces alliance with human capital management platform Darwinbox

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

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

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

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

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

Victor Khayat appointed Account Director at Like Digital & Partners

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

Air Arabia expands European network with new direct flights to Athens

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

Saudi Arabian mall operator Cenomi Centers transforms with Salesforce

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

Hub71 announces new leadership updates

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

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

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

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

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

Trend Micro launches NextgGen email security to safeguard the digital realm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expect responsible, ethical use of AI: Cisco

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

Oppo secures fourth place in global smartphone market in 2023

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

Dragon Boat Race Series returns to Hudayriyat Island after successful debut

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

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

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

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

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

Saudi Arabia tightens reins on online delivery

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

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

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

The Walt Disney Company Earns 20 Oscar® Nominations

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

Etisalat by e& strengthens collaboration with Oracle

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

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

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

Gargash Group unveils new Mercedes-Benz brand center

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

Kinokuniya and Saatchi & Saatchi launch “Offset Boxset”

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

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

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

Tarshid renews partnership with Formula E for third consecutive year

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