VICE Media Group appoints Rafael Lavor as Head of Strategy

Rafael Lavor has been appointed as the new Head of Strategy at VICE Media Group, emphasizing the company's dedication to fostering innovation and delivering cutting-edge content to its global audience.With over 18 years of experience, Lavor has developed expertise in creative strategy, in-depth qualitative research, consumer studies, service innovation, digital communication, and brand management and development.His extensive portfolio includes work with local innovation consultancies and global creative agencies, contributing to the success of brands such as du, NEOM, Nissan, KFC, Peugeot, Nokia, Mastercard, Smirnoff, Volkswagen, Ford, Chevrolet, Embraer, Stella Artois, Tang, Uber, Deezer, Amazon, McVitie’s, Hilton, Abu Dhabi Investment Office, and more.Lavor's leadership on various teams and projects has garnered recognition at prestigious marketing awards such as the Brazil Effies, LATAM Effies, and MENA Effies. Tarek Khalil, Managing Director of MEA for VICE, expresses enthusiasm about Lavor's addition to the team, citing his extensive regional experience and ability to tackle complex brand challenges. Khalil is confident that Lavor's leadership will contribute to the creation of even more impactful content for VICE's clients and audiences across the Middle East and Africa.

Qatar Airways launches flight to NEOM, its ninth gateway in Saudi Arabia

Qatar Airways, the multiple award-winning airline, is pleased to announce the expansion of its operations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the launch of its ninth gateway, NEOM. The inaugural flight touched down for the first time at NEOM Bay Airport on Saturday, December 9, 2023.In addition to the recent announcement of the airline’s operations to Tabuk, and the resumption of the Yanbu route, Qatar Airways is advancing its foothold in the Saudi market by enhancing NEOM’s connectivity to the world.With the launch of this new dynamic connection, Qatar Airways brings the total number of destinations it serves within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to nine, operating 125 weekly flights. These cities include AlUla, Dammam, Gassim, Jeddah, Medina, NEOM, Riyadh, Taif, and Yanbu, providing travellers with a comprehensive network to explore the diverse landscapes and cultures of this thriving country.Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer, Engr. Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, said: “We are excited to introduce NEOM as our ninth gateway in Saudi Arabia. We believe that the launch of this flight underlines our commitment to providing a seamless travel experience for our passengers in the Saudi market. NEOM is the land of the future, where technology, sustainability, and innovation converge to create a unique and dynamic region. We are delighted to connect travellers from all over the world to this visionary region.”NEOM Airports Chief Executive Officer, Justin Erbacci, said:"We are delighted to welcome Qatar Airways to NEOM Bay Airport. Twice weekly flights to Hamad International Airport, which is one of the most significant air hubs in the wider region, offer people and businesses exciting access to an extensive onward global network. NEOM Bay’s addition of a fourth airline operator, and third international destination, is a milestone moment in the early phases of our strategic expansion of NEOM’s connectivity, which is so vital to support our ongoing development.”Offering two weekly flights to NEOM, Qatar Airways is extending its wings further in order to create a vital pathway for the city’s workforce to maintain connections with families back home. Similarly, the new operations in NEOM will facilitate business travel, further fostering enriched economic and cultural ties between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.NEOM, often referred to as the land of dreams, is set to revolutionise the way we live and work in harmony with nature. This region embodies visionary development and represents a commitment to a sustainable future.Passengers in Saudi Arabia traveling from NEOM will enjoy seamless connectivity to over 170 destinations worldwide, including destinations in China, Europe, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and the United States. Qatar Airways continues to lead the way in connecting travellers to some of the most sought-after destinations across the globe.Tickets for flights to NEOM are now available for booking through the Qatar Airways website, mobile app, and travel agencies.For more information about Qatar Airways and its new route to NEOM, please visit Schedule to NEOM:ThursdayDoha (DOH) to NEOM (NUM) - Flight No. QR1204: Departure 06:35; Arrival 09:50NEOM (NUM) to Doha (DOH) - Flight No. QR1205: Departure 11:05; Arrival 13:40SaturdayDoha (DOH) to NEOM (NUM) - Flight No. QR1204: Departure 06:55; Arrival 10:10NEOM (NUM) to Doha (DOH) - Flight No. QR1205: Departure 11:25; Arrival 14:00

NEOM partners with the Korean Film Council

NEOM: NEOM Media Industries and The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) have announced an exciting strategic partnership aimed at nurturing emerging talent in the filmmaking industry.The Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA), South Korea's premier national film school operated by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), a key entity dedicated to the promotion and support of the nation's film industry, is committed to delivering comprehensive training across various filmmaking disciplines to the next generation of filmmaking talent at NEOM.KOFIC (KAFA) training and development plans will be available for both aspiring and experienced film and television content creators and will prepare them to work on projects across local, regional and international levels. The partnership will offer a wide range of training disciplines, including workshops, masterclasses and programs for various roles in filmmaking, such as producers, directors, screenwriters, cinematographers, and sound designers, among others.Scheduled for Q1 2024, the inaugural program kicks off with a Directing Masterclass and Workshop, to be conducted in the Media Hub at NEOM - the largest purpose-built screen production facility in the region.Wayne Borg, Managing Director of Media Industries, Entertainment, and Culture at NEOM, said: "We are privileged to partner with The Korean Film Council to support Saudi emerging filmmaking talent set to contribute to the global film industry. This collaboration represents a significant opportunity for mutual growth and enhanced collaboration. Leveraging South Korea's remarkable achievements in the global film arena, and the invaluable insights this partnership offers, holds immense potential to raise production standards, accelerate ecosystem development, broaden international market reach, nurture talent, facilitate co-productions and usher in a new era of storytelling. This collaboration perfectly aligns with our dedication to nurturing talent as a cornerstone of our strategic vision, aiming to cultivate a diverse and highly skilled workforce."Park Ki-yong, Chair of KOFIC, said: “We are delighted to partner with NEOM in nurturing Saudi filmmakers for the future of the world cinema. KAFA’s presence in Saudi Arabia in 2024 will be our third international collaboration, in addition to KAFA in Kazakhstan in 2022 and KAFA in Vietnam in 2023, which we have initiated to share our 40 years of experience and know-how in filmmaking and training. As one of the world’s leading film agencies, KOFIC, and best film schools, KAFA, it is our responsibility to contribute to the cooperative development of the global film industry. We anticipate this collaboration to lead our two countries and film industries to much greater cooperation in the future.”Both South Korea and Saudi Arabia have seen a surge in talented young filmmakers who are making a significant impact on the international media landscape. Their fresh perspectives and diverse storytelling styles are contributing to the richness and diversity of world cinema.

NEOM, Maysalward launches NEOM Game Dev Challenge

Riyadh: NEOM, the global development taking shape in northwest Saudi Arabia, has joined forces with Maysalward, the pioneering mobile game studio from the Middle East, in an exciting collaboration to launch the NEOM Game Dev Challenge. The pilot program has just begun with the goal of empowering the next generation of game developers in the Kingdom, starting in Riyadh.The initiative has been designed to harness the burgeoning talent pool of youth within Saudi Arabia, targeting students aged between 15 and 17. The NEOM Game Dev Challenge offers a unique platform for students to embark on a journey of learning, designing, developing, and ultimately launching their own mobile games, and supports Saudi Arabia’s progress as a regional game development hub in line with Vision 2030's economic diversification goals.Maysalward, a mobile game studio founded in 2003, has consistently led the charge in mobile gaming innovation, boasting a portfolio of captivating games and a legacy of nurturing young talent. The studio was named among the Top 30 developers and publishers in the MENA region by Pocket Gamer in 2022, while its founder scooped the award for ‘Mobile Game Legend’ in 2023.Nour Khrais, Founder of Maysalward, said: "Partnering with NEOM for this transformative initiative is a significant step. Our shared vision is to empower the next generation of game developers in Saudi Arabia. With the rapid growth of mobile phone ownership among the youth, now is the opportune moment to harness and nurture their potential. I'm personally thrilled to be a part of kickstarting this groundbreaking project in Saudi Arabia."The vision of building a future-focused community in NEOM harmonizes with Maysalward's commitment to education and innovation. The NEOM Game Dev Challenge will offer students a blend of hands-on experience and academic enrichment, to transfer knowledge and accelerate Saudi Arabia's mobile gaming landscape.Wayne Borg, Managing Director of Media Industries, Entertainment, and Culture at NEOM, said: "Our partnership with Maysalward highlights NEOM's commitment to nurturing youth and fostering digital innovation in Saudi Arabia. The NEOM Game Dev Challenge aims to spark transformation, fueling the creativity of the Kingdom’s young talents and driving our mission to become an elite global media hub for game development."Students will have the unique opportunity to benefit from mentorship by the Maysalward team, ensuring they receive technical guidance and invaluable insights into the global gaming market. The program will conclude with an award ceremony for the students and their parents, set to take place in Riyadh in December. The winning team’s school will be awarded a NEOM Gaming Mini-Lab featuring a combination of hardware and software for students to work on game projects, further encouraging innovation and growth within the mobile game development industry in Saudi Arabia.

MBC Group join hands to promote local film industry

In the latest push to foster an organic movie industry in the kingdom, the Saudi Film Commission has partnered with the MBC Group to hone local talent and create new opportunities for them through grassroot initiatives.The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two entities will create training and employment opportunities for Saudi talent in TV shows and films that MBC will produce, while also facilitating their production shoots in the country.Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has been actively pushing the country’s film industry into the spotlight with the announcement of high-profile partnerships and funds to attract key international players.At the 2023 Cannes Film Festival in May, Saudi Arabia’s Cultural Development Fund announced two separate grants that would collectively spend $180 million in developing the local film industry, while also fostering an environment that appeals to cash-rich Hollywood production houses.Separately, the Saudi Film Commission launched Daw last year on the sidelines of the country’s the Red Sea International Film Festival, an initiative aimed at supporting local filmmakers and creating quality local productions. Daw also offers financial grants for Saudi-based production companies looking to produce short films or feature films in the kingdom. Aside from funding, Saudi Arabia also offers a tax rebate on film shoots, similar to the ones offered by Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which provides up to a 40% cash back incentive for productions that recruit crew and talent from the kingdom, while also promoting the cultural and geographical landscape of the country.In the recent past, movies such as Gerard Butler’s Kandahar, along with Cherry, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, have been shot in AlUla. NEOM has also proved itself popular with film units, with Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan shooting for him upcoming project Dunki at the destination, along with Rupert Wyatt who filmed Desert Warrior there with Anthony Mackie

NEOM meets potential investors in Berlin and Paris

NEOM has organized a series of "Discover NEOM" meetings with investors and business partners in Berlin and Paris as part of its ongoing efforts to attract investors and highlight the rapid progress it has made over the past year.Entrepreneurs, industry pioneers and potential business partners from the two European countries had the chance to engage with NEOM's CEO and several of the project’s leaders to explore future opportunities and support NEOM's mission to redefine business, urban livability, and nature conservation. The Discover NEOM European events were attended by around 400 key business, financial and sustainability leaders and included a series of sector-focused presentations, panels and exhibitions.Speaking at the events, Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO of NEOM, said: "We were delighted to be in Germany and France. We have significant German and French partners in water, energy and advanced manufacturing, and these events allowed potential investors across a wide variety of industries to explore the significant market opportunities that NEOM presents. We were especially focused on how we can best support the collaborative global effort to redefine the way we conduct business in a sustainable and future-oriented way. I look forward to the meaningful partnerships that we will forge in the coming months following these visits and the investment opportunities it will bring to NEOM and Saudi Arabia."Discover NEOM is part of a globetrotting initiative that aims to seek opportunities and attract foreign direct investment into NEOM, a region being built from the ground up with the world’s most advanced technologies to redefine how humanity lives, works and plays. Similar events have been held in the UK and the US over the last twelve months.