Majid Al Futtaim brings LiveRamp’s data collaboration platform to MENA

Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, today announced a long-term strategic partnership with LiveRamp, a leading data collaboration platform headquartered in San Francisco.The partnership is set to accelerate the Company’s digital offerings, driving value for customers by providing more personalised recommendations based on their shopping preferences and needs. Taking powerful insights gathered through privacy centric data collaboration, the platform seamlessly connects Majid Al Futtaim to its customers, to build a deeper understanding of individual customer journeys. This in turn enables the company to deliver tailored real-time promotions to customers resulting in a more engaging digital experience for consumers.Majid Al Futtaim will leverage LiveRamp’s cutting-edge data collaboration platform across its business and brand portfolio, extending the platform’s benefits to ecosystem partners to enable privacy-centric data collaboration and personalised digital activation.Furthermore, as the exclusive strategic partner of LiveRamp’s data collaboration platform in the Middle East and North Africa, Majid Al Futtaim will be able to offer the innovative data collaboration solution to partners outside its ecosystem, enabling the secure use of first-party data to target, measure, and optimise campaigns, in a privacy-preserving environment.Joe Abi Akl, Chief Corporate Development Officer, Majid Al Futtaim Holding, said: “We are thrilled to introduce LiveRamp, a global leader in data collaboration, to the region. We are confident that this partnership will boost our digital efficiency through precision targeting and A.I. driven campaign optimisation, enabling an improved hyper-personalised experience to our customers.”“We are also pleased to be LiveRamp’s exclusive partner leading the development of the data collaboration ecosystem in the MENA region, and welcome businesses across sectors to explore LiveRamp’s unique capabilities, which ensure compliance with local data privacy laws while enhancing brand equity and value-unlock through retail media.”Alexia Nakad, VP of Global Expansion at LiveRamp, said: “Majid Al Futtaim has long been a pioneer across MENA, setting new benchmarks for innovation and excellence in people-based experiences. We are delighted to be supporting Majid Al Futtaim’s pursuit to deliver advanced and impactful data-driven capabilities for their brands, ecosystem partners, and other businesses across the region.”“The future of consumer interaction and personalised experiences is fuelled by the effective use of data, and with this new partnership, our goal is to ensure that data owners possess the necessary privacy-focused technology, identity and connectivity infrastructure to deliver meaningful business outcomes. Furthermore, it is important to recognise that in a privacy-first era, it is essential that more businesses partner together and collaborate to continue to protect and deliver value for customers. LiveRamp helps to enable the privacy-forward infrastructure that can fuel such collaboration at scale, while also making an important addition to our premier global ecosystem. We are honoured to be partnering with such an innovative and visionary business such as Majid Al Futtaim, and together, we are optimistic that we can unlock value for businesses regionally.”

Mindshare strengthens MENA operations with key leadership appointments in KSA

Mindshare, the global media agency network that is part of WPP, has appointed two industry veterans to regional leadership positions in MENA.Darine El Kaissi has been appointed as the Managing Director for Mindshare Saudi Arabia and Donnacha Kinsella has been appointed to the agency’s client leadership team to bring senior international client management capabilities to the Kingdom.The appointments are part of the agency’s aim to strengthen its KSA operations.Darine El Kaissi brings more than 19 years of advertising industry experience to the Mindshare team, including roles at regional creative agencies and C-level relationships with private and public-sector companies in the Kingdom as well as global and regional brands in telecom, government, FMCG and the financial sector.She has worked with brands and media such as The Red Sea Project, the Public Investment Fund, NEOM, Zain, Mobily, Asharq News and Asharq Business.Donnacha Kinsella brings global experience from Ireland and the United States in addition to seven years working in MENA to his new role.His experience spans diverse client verticals including CPG, automotive and tech, most recently with programmatic digital advertising leader Teads as CPG Industry Lead for the MEA.Mark Heap, Mindshare EMEA CEO, said: “These appointments underline Mindshare’s commitment to the region and our belief in the excellent opportunities for growth in the Kingdom.The depth and breadth of expertise and insight that Darine and Donnacha add will ensure we have dedicated, globally experienced leaders to work continuously with our clients and our own teams in Riyadh and around the world to help elevate our clients relationship and output to truly world class levels.”Earlier this year, Mindshare made several C-level appointments including the appointment of Lamiya Boumlaki as the CEO of Mindshare MENA and Faris Sibai as the Chief Growth Officer MENA.

future of entertainment sector on the cards at SLS Summit

Riyadh: From tackling the environmental impact of shows, to spotlighting women in the events industry, Saudi Light and Sound (SLS) Expo will look at how the kingdom’s entertainment industry can stay ahead of the curve, all while mapping the industry’s future and highlighting the biggest trends and challenges.Taking place from the 28th – 30th May at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Centre, SLS Expo will feature exhibitors from the pro-lighting and audio, live events, digital signage, AI, laser technology, and stage technology sector. While the two-day SLS Summit will include over 15 interactive debates, fireside chats, presentations, case studies and panel discussions from industry visionaries and experts on how to advance the events and entertainment market.“With the kingdom hosting over 120 million people at events in the last four years, the country is looking to fast track plans in its events and entertainment industry, and this year’s second edition of the SLS Expo and Summit will look to showcase these advancements,” said Mohammed Faisal, Event Manager, DMG events.The kingdom continues to create the fundamentals for a vibrant entertainment sector with 11,136 licenses issued for entertainment and supporting events since 2019, according to the General Entertainment Authority. Ernst & Young recently revealed that MENA governments like Saudi Arabia have demonstrated strong support for entertainment as part of their goal to invest in their non-oil economy and predicted that by 2030, the entertainment industry will create over 100,000 jobs with a 3% impact on the kingdom’s GDP.“KSA is rapidly becoming the most important entertainment market in the EMEA,” said Koert Vermeulen, Principal Designer & Owner, ACTLD and one of the speakers at this year’s SLS Expo Summit. “I have been working in the kingdom over the last 10-years and I’ve witnessed and experienced the growth, and the transition and openness towards a rich culture and entertainment.”The summit will also take a closer look at women in the events industry. Women’s underrepresentation in the workforce is a focus of Vision 2030, with the country already putting several initiatives in place to empower and encourage women to join the public and private sector.“I’m thrilled to be taking part in the executive session: women in the events industry – creating experiential events and I hope that the session will help shine a spotlight on the wonderful opportunities available for women and encourage them to focus on starting a career in this rewarding MICE and tourism industry,” said Dr. Debbie Kristiansen, General Manager, Exhibition World Bahrain and one of the speakers at this year’s summit.Other topics on the agenda this year include; Current trending and future tools for interactive installations and audience engagement, design principles and techniques for creating visually stunning shows, a sound-storm case study; and sound engineering and design for immersive experiences.Other speakers at this year’s event are Mark Reeves, Head of Entertainment & Events, 6 Flags Qiddiya, and Michael (Curly) Jobson, Executive Director, MDL Beast.Co-located with the Saudi Entertainment & Amusement (SEA) Expo, SLS Expo will include a 300-plus exhibitor directory including: aDawliah Electronics, Castle of Dreams, Crystal, Delta Waves, ER Productions, Kvant Show Production, Mediapro International and many more.

Lexar appoints Fissal Oubida to spearhead Middle East, Africa

Dubai: Lexar, a leading global brand in memory and storage solutions, announced the appointment of Fissal Oubida as the new General Manager for Lexar Middle East, Africa, CIS and the Indian Subcontinent with immediate effect.Fissal is a well-known IT industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience in business development, sales, and marketing across various industries. He has a proven track record in building synergies to grow businesses across borders while setting up operational dependencies that grow to scale.Commenting on the appointment, Ryan Li, CEO, Lexar, said “Fissal’s appointment is strategic, and the Lexar management has entrusted the baton to “reshape” Lexar’s operational business structure and to further nurture, grow and manage partnerships in these key geographies. He will help us to further strengthen our offerings in key verticals such gaming, photography, videography, and digital content creation.”Commenting on his new role and responsibilities, Fissal Oubida said, “I am glad to accept my new strategic role to continue to further drive Lexar achievements in the Middle East & Africa and carry the same success into the CIS and the India Sub-continent. Our award-winning USB Flash Drives, memory cards, gaming SSDs and DRAMs, are poised for growth and I see significant potential to expand our presence.”Fissal will focus on establishing a strong Lexar presence in various countries and is tasked with taking its growth to the next level. He will oversee, the channel, retail (organized, micro-retail & e-commerce), networkof gaming systems integrators, and the overall sales and marketing of memory cards, USB flash drives, SSDs and DRAM products through leveraged distribution channels that cover major cities across MEA, CIS and the Indian Subcontinent. He will also continue to champion Lexar as the consumer brand of the masses and enhance the sale and marketing infrastructure within each country of operation.

Lega Serie A football league appoints Tales & Head for Middle East communication

Dubai: Tales & Heads, the UAE-headquartered marketing and communications agency, has been appointed by Lega Serie A, Italy’s premier professional football league, for its Middle East communications brief following a competitive pitch. The partnership – which coincides with the opening of Serie A’s first office in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in Abu Dhabi – is set to bolster the league's presence in the region, foster closer relationships with fans, and create new opportunities for collaboration with local and regional partners.Tales & Heads, which specialises in strategic consultancy and creative storytelling, will be responsible for managing corporate communications for Lega Serie A Middle East, in addition to consumer, CSR and stakeholder communication campaigns. The agency will work closely with the brand’s global teams to ensure that communications efforts are aligned with the league’s overall strategy and business objectives.Commenting on the appointment, Alfonso De Stefano, Managing Director MENA at Lega Serie A, said: “Partnering with Tales & Heads will help us boost our communications and PR activities in the region. The agency’s campaign-based approach, coupled with its in-depth understanding of the region, make it the ideal partner for our brand. The Middle East is a crucial market for us, with a deep passion for football and a growing interest in the Italian game. As we open our MENA headquarters, this partnership will enable us to strengthen our presence in the region and engage more effectively with fans and stakeholders."Margaret Flanagan, Co-Founder at Tales & Heads, said: “Italian football has a unique appeal in the Middle East, and it’s a rare privilege to be able to work with one of the most prestigious leagues in the world. There is huge potential for Lega Serie A to connect on a deeper level with fans in the region, with a particular focus on Gen Z populations, both male and female. We look forward to working with the Serie A team in to create impactful campaigns that are driven by insight; connecting with audiences across the region in ways that are culturally relevant, human and memorable.”Abu Dhabi Media and Starzplay hold the exclusive streaming rights for Serie A matches in the MENA region, covering more than 20 countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco.

YoHo looks to deliver social values during Ramadan 2023

CAIRO : YoHo, the leading audio social platform in MENA, initiates attention-grabbing campaigns during Ramadan, encouraging people to deliver the power of kindness, unity, respect, and gratitude throughout the month.YoHo Chef, designed to introduce and teach unique Middle Eastern dishes, has been going viral on social media. Since its launch, numerous users have shared delicacies made according to the recipes with the hashtag#YoHoChef, under which they aired views on the food and their understanding of the cultural significance behind every dish."I really enjoyed the YoHo Chef event during Ramadan." said a participant, "It was a great way to learn about different Middle Eastern cuisines and try out new recipes. Looking forward to more events like this in the future!"Apart from YoHo Chef, some other innovative events are launched by YoHo to help build an inclusive environment for its users. Ramadan Voice, for instance, aims to promote unity and understanding between different cultural backgrounds by offering a platform to showcase users' Quran recitation and Tawasheeh (a mix of Quranic verses and classic poetry) skills.According to a spokesperson from YoHo, Ramadan Voice has become an annual tradition event on this platform. "We set up a full competition process, from audition to final, to encourage users' participation. We look to help promote the sense of community among users through this competition."It's noteworthy that charity activities are also what YoHo has focused on during Ramadan. For example, 'A Message to Your Heart', the program designed to encourage users to express inner voices, aims to help people solve problems they encounter during Ramadan.Some other initiatives, such as the 'Help Cancer Children' campaign, have also gained attention from local supporters, donators, and media outlets. "In this campaign, we have partnered with various charities and organizations to provide toys and money and essential items to children in need during Ramadan." added the spokesperson.As an audio social platform featuring group chat and game rooms, YoHo is always committed to creating positive social impacts and uniting its users more tightly through engaging and meaningful events."We fully recognize the significance of Ramadan for our users and supporters in the Middle East, and what we initiated aligns with the spirit of Ramadan, which emphasizes charity and giving back to the community." said the spokesperson, "Additionally, YoHo will continue its efforts to create more social values by taking full advantages of the socialization of platform in the future."The latest data released by (formerly App Annie) shows that YoHo ranked top 10 App Store & Google Play best-selling social apps in all GCC countries.

Power League Gaming launches Flux to help brands enter gaming, esports

Dubai : PLG, MENA’S leading and most innovative gaming and esports agency has launched its new service Flux, in response to increasing demand from brands for lower cost base solutions to enter the gaming and esports space. As a multi service agency, PLG delivers strategic advice, builds branded gaming ecosystems, hosts on and offline esports tournaments and drives strategies which drives audiences to client content via social media, influencer and paid for digital marketing campaigns with measured ROI. Over the past 24 months, PLG has witnessed unprecedented growth from regional brands for building marketing campaigns and branded content to reach gaming and esports audiences.The size of the MENA gaming market is projected to increase 19 per cent to more than $5 billion by 2025, from 2019, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group [BCG]. Newzoo predicts that by 2024 the global gaming livestream audience will be 830.3 Mn CAGR of 9.2% over 2019 - 2024 with the Middle East and Africa growing at 15.1%.As audiences gravitate to this medium, SMEs and those with smaller budgets are looking for ways to reach them in strategic and engaging ways at affordable rates. Gaming and esports are fast becoming an essential part of the marketing mix as mass reach channels that provide highly engaged and loyal audiences. PLG has identified the need to offer lower cost solutions to bring brands into the gaming and esports space and to serve the fast-growing demand. The average esports production and marketing campaign in the global industry costs in the range of $150 - $500K so can be out of reach for brands with smaller budgets. PLG Flux offers clients a lower touch solution that comprises a mix of branded content and toolkits, social media marketing, end to end community management, influencer marketing and downstream trending data and reporting with entry costs from a much more affordable range starting at $30K.PLG Flux’s toolkit of solutions, products and services are specifically engineered to acquire, engage and retain audiences on the brand’s behalf, focused toward attaining tangible ROI. In addition to the flexible social content creation solutions, PLG FLUX’s end to end gaming and esports influencer marketing unit consistently delivers engagement averages circa 11% (industry average 5%).“PLG’s social and influencer marketing division (FLUX), has delivered continual success by enabling the Pizza Hut brand to acquire, engage and retain Arabic Gen Z and M gaming audiences. Thorough PLG’s range of content, social and influencer marketing strategies, Pizza Hut has built scalable social platforms and continually drives conversations within the MENA esports and gaming community. This approach has enabled the brand to build meaningful relationships by serving the Arabic gaming and esports communities with the right content, at the right time.” Said Beverley D'Cruz, General Manager - Pizza Hut Middle East and Pakistan.Commenting on the launch of Flux, PLG’s CEO Matthew Pickering “as a company built from the ground up by expert gamers and marketing professionals, we are laser focused on getting the right strategies in place for our clients so that their brands can form long lasting relationships with this very important audience category. Entering the space at speed in meaningful ways is critical for clients to become and remain relevant to these communities as we move toward a Web 3.0 world. We are excited to be leading the way with Flux, enabling more brands to start their journey engaging and building relationships with gaming and esports audiences.

Football season to boost online retail in MENA to USD 8.4bln

 A report created by Redseer in partnership with TikTok found that the upcoming football tournament in the region will provide a boost to the festive retail season, with a predicted peak gross merchandise value of USD 8.4 billion for online retail, compared to USD 6.5 billion in 2021. When including offline sales, the overlap of the football season with Black Friday will present a massive USD 70 billion opportunity for the retail sector in MENA.The report found that digital media will take the lead in enabling the opportunity with e-commerce, as product discovery is dominated by digital channels. Online searches (69%) were found to be the top channel that respondents plan to use to search for new products during the football season, followed by social media (64%), online customer reviews (63%), and brand/retailer apps (55%).Joanne Chehab, Head of Business Partnerships for Managed Services, Global Business Solutions, MENA – TikTok said: “The upcoming football season is an unparalleled opportunity for brands to tap into a huge, passionate, and highly engaged audience. TikTok will be one of the major channels through which this audience will engage with content; in 2021, there were 129 billion views for the #football hashtag globally on the platform. Prioritizing creativity to build brand-event adjacency, TikTok is the place to be for brands who want to seize the football moment and meet/engage their audience with authentic and impactful stories.”Seventy-two percent of respondents said they use social media to discover content related to their favorite sport, with 70% saying they expect to consume more short form video content during the football season.Akshay Jayaprakasan, Associate Partner, Redseer Middle East said: “The current digital era promises to make this football tournament the most inclusive one, helping it reach people from all walks of life. 93% viewers will watch the world cup with their friends and family, highlighting the theme of togetherness that will run through this period of celebration. Digital media has democratized advertising, ensuring that even smaller brands can find a suitable offering to meet specific needs at a reasonable price. With 83% of football fans, using their smartphone while watching matches, innovative storytelling, leveraging the right formats, will help brands create everlasting brand recall.The report also found that digital ad spend has overtaken traditional ad spend, indicating that brands and retailers should double their focus on digital media during this period to maximize value creation for themselves and their target consumers.Additionally, Creators will have a substantial role to play in driving home meaningful stories for brands. In fact, 80% of respondents said they are influenced by digital media Content Creators to follow football season updates.Aside from retail, the report found that the football tournament will bring a USD 4 billion opportunity through tourist spend, with 51% being attributed to accommodation. Furthermore, the tourist mix will see a higher representation from women and people under 45 than previous tournaments.

More than 80% of the public companies in the MENA do not disclose any data

Clarity AI, the leading global sustainability tech platform, announced today that in a sample of 40,000 public companies, approximately only 30% report at least one quantitative sustainability metric. As further requirements under the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) come into force in fewer than 70 days, lack of available reported data may necessitate the use of estimated data to fulfill the regulator’s expectation to provide disclosures on a “best effort” basis.The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the region where public companies disclose the least when compared with Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. As mentioned, Clarity AI looked into 40,000 public companies and assessed how many disclose at least one quantitative metric. The overall disclosure level is 30% (~11,000 public companies reporting), with significant variations across regions. North America is the leader while MENA is the laggard for companies reporting at least one quantitative metric. Clarity AI observed the following levels of reporting:North America: 44% of public companies reportingEurope: 40% of public companies reportingAPAC: 20% of public companies reportingMENA: 11% of public companies reportingEven for the two most commonly reported E and S metrics in MENA – GHG emissions scope 1 and scope 2 and percent of women employed, respectively – public companies in MENA disclose six times less than European public companies. Approximately 30% of public companies report GHG emissions scope 1 and scope 2 in Europe, while only 5% do so in MENA. In terms of the percent of women employed, in Europe about 30% of public companies report this data while only 6% do so in MENA.MENA companies report less often than companies in other regions, and fall behind in some areas. In contrast to North American and European public companies that have an average ratio of 40% women employed, companies in MENA have a ratio of 30% women employed. The gap is larger in leadership positions. For example, for every female on a Board of Directors in MENA, we can find three in Europe.However, MENA doesn’t lag in every area related to the S pillar. In the turnover of employees and the gender pay gap1 MENA companies lead versus North American and European companies:Turnover of employees:North America is at 14%Europe is at 14%MENA is at 10%Gender Pay Gap:MENA pays women 90% of what they pay to menNorth America pays women 87% of what they pay menEurope pays women 83% of what they pay menOn environmental topics, we find a similar pattern: Companies in the MENA region perform as their counterparts in Europe and North America do in some metrics (e.g., energy consumption) but lag behind on others (e.g., CO2 scope 1 and scope 2, waste recycling).“Public companies worldwide have a long way to go in reporting even the simplest sustainability metrics,” says Patricia Pina, Head of Product Research and Innovation at Clarity AI. “While companies take time to figure out how and what to report, advanced technology and expertise in sustainability can help fill the gaps with machine learning estimation and reliability models.”