P2P payment App Kem appoints Tamara executive to board $1mln investment

Kem, Kuwait's first peer-to-peer payment (P2P) app, has announced the appointment of Faris Al Obaid, Chief Executive Officer of Tamara Bahrain, to its board of directors. The move, along with a recent investment round of over $1 million, is the latest step in Kem’s mission to revolutionize digital payments in Kuwait and the GCC region, where the addressable payments market is worth $400 billion. The start-up has tripled its account volume and overseen a 350% rise in transaction volume over the last month.Faris Al Obaid brings unique experience to Kem's board in his roles as a Tamara leader and Conference founder, as well as Chairman for the Kuwait Vision 2035. His expertise goes beyond his leadership at Tarama, Saudi Arabia’s leading buy now, pay later fintech, and extends into the political and diplomatic spheres of the Gulf region, helping Kem cement its status as a leading fintech in the GCC.Speaking about the importance of Kem's QR code-based payment app, Mr. Al Obaid stated, "Kem is offering a solution that has been long awaited in the region. Until now, instant P2P and QR code payments on par with those in Europe, the US, and China haven’t emerged here, but Kem is set to change that. Their critical financial infrastructure empowers not only individuals but also SMEs that are unbanked and underserved. Many have tried, and most have failed, and I joined Kem because they have an excellent team that knows how to execute a project like this.” Kem’s innovative spirit, which recently helped them secure a $1 million investment round, is embodied in its CEO Seth Sedeq. As a young Kuwaiti-American, he saw what fintech had achieved in the United States and wanted to bring it to his homeland. The appointment of Mr. Al-Obaid is a key step in doing that."Having someone on board like Faris is exactly what we need,” says Mr. Sedeq. “ Not only does he have experience leading a regional fintech giant, but his reach in the political realm makes for a rare recipe. Faris has helped us accelerate our growth and become recognized as a financial services leader.”As the first P2P payment app in Kuwait, Kem aims to use this blend of know-how and youthful vigor to trigger a digital payments revolution among young people. “50% of the GCC population is under the age of 25 and this generation is looking for stuff like Kem,” states Mr. Sedeq, who is in his twenties and in touch with what this demographic needs. “They don't want old tech, they want stuff that works for them and answers their financial needs in today’s economic climate. Kem is the first P2P payment app in Kuwait, and we now see a shift where people can access these essential services."Kem's latest developments mark the start of its next expansion phase, which includes launching in other GCC countries such as Saudi Arabia and adding thousands of new users to its growing customer base.

The Work Crowd reveals solutions to business growth amid war on talent

Dubai: A panel of experts convened by global talent community, The Work Crowd, has revealed how the increasing use of freelancers and advisors is enabling businesses to accelerate their growth in the GCC. Government measures to attract international expertise, coupled with a boom in ‘solopreneurship’ have driven the shift to decentralised workforces, which are critical to plugging specific skill gaps and providing mentorship for local talent, to help overcome barriers to scaling in the region.Moderated by Nivine Afiouni, Geopolitics, Global Public Affairs & Media Advisor, the conversation drew on insights from international specialists in strategic planning and talent management, including Felice Hurst, GCC advisor to The Work Crowd and MD of Hanson Search MENA; Imad Lahad, MD at APCO Worldwide; Latifah RahmDel, VP of Mawja; and Tom Morf, CEO and Co-Founder of Aramedes Ltd. The panel also discussed the impact of artificial intelligence in the workforce and the future skills needed to harness the technology.Opening the debate, Nivine highlighted the difficulties that businesses have been facing with finding and retaining talent in recent years, with the panellists sharing their own strategies in overcoming these challenges. Discussing the approach to recruitment and retention in his start-up, Tom spoke about the need for passion and personality, over specific academic and industry experience, and revealed how offering shareholding opportunities can provide an added incentive in a small business environment.  Reflecting on the issues specific to the GCC, Felice went on to discuss the challenges around time-bound visas and the dynamic nature of business decision-making, which have previously inhibited talent acquisition and retention. Highlighting the opportunities linked to new visa options and the easing of access to global talent, Felice said, “One of the positives that came out of the pandemic is the flexibility of work, enabling businesses to access talent on-demand, rather than having a full workforce. It enables companies to grow fast, and specifically find that dedicated talent that maybe isn’t in the permanent workforce. I think we’re going to see an enormous rise in using global talent to fill specific skills gaps.”Sharing her own experience of tapping into the freelancer market, Latifa discussed how bringing in external talent helps to build a more coherent team of people, who share a dedication to the project while remaining flexible to manage their own time. Explaining how freelancers represent a better use of resources in her business, Latifa said, “It wouldn’t make sense for me to build a dedicated events arm, I always prefer using the best freelancers. They have a passion for what they do; you give them the brief and they become part of the team.”Providing insights into talent management within a multi-national company, Imad discussed how APCO operates as a global workforce, where employees are not necessarily tied to their specific office or geography but are available to tap into across different markets. He also revealed how the company retains relationships with APCO alumni who have gone on to develop their expertise in different roles and may be drawn upon to provide expertise in specific subject areas in the future.The panel went on to discuss the important impact of Government policy in building a vibrant freelance community in the region, including the UAE’s green visa, which allows foreign nationals who are self-employed, skilled workers, entrepreneurs, or investors to live and work in the country. The increasing focus on work-life balance was also cited among the drivers for the growth in freelancing, as workers prioritise their mental and physical wellbeing in light of incidences of employee burnout. Concluding the session, the experts explored the much-debated topic of artificial intelligence and the need to promote its ethical usage and build a talent pool that can learn, unlearn, and relearn such technologies at a fast pace.The panel discussion was convened as The Work Crowd accelerates its own expansion in the MENA region, including the recent opening of an office in Abu Dhabi. Speaking about the expansion, Founder and CEO of The Work Crowd and Hanson Search, Alice Weightman said, “We are delighted to extend our presence in the MENA region to connect the thriving business ecosystem to some of the world’s best brains. In this booming economy, demand for business critical and new evolving skills is at an all-time high, and that is where The Work Crowd community can help plug the gap. The UAE has established itself as a global pioneer in enabling digital nomads, and freelance working is a fast-growing market across the GCC. The Work Crowd aims to help businesses find the flexible talent they need, while empowering freelancers to upskill and re-skill to meet future industry needs.”With over 4,500 pre-vetted advisors, freelancers and mentors on its platform, The Work Crowd is helping companies find the right talent across multi-regional markets to support their business growth. The commitment to the GCC reflects a dramatic increase in both supply and demand for dedicated expertise in the region.

MENA beauty and personal market to reach $61bln by 2026

Dubai: The global beauty and personal market is expected to reach USD 729 billion by 2026 while the Middle East & Africa region is worth USD 36 billion, and is expected to reach USD 61 billion by 2026, according to Euromonitor. GCC countries continue to have one of the highest per capita spend globally of $250 within the category.In the same context, Qaadu, a premium brand specializing in ayurveda, plant-based, cruelty-free beauty and wellness products, has announced its official launch in the UAE. Inspired by the rich heritage of Ayurveda, Qaadu was conceived in the vibrant city of Dubai, where traditional wisdom blends harmoniously with modern lifestyles.“We are delighted to announce the introduction of Qaadu to the dynamic market of Dubai. Recognized as a cosmopolitan center that thrives on diversity, innovation, and sustainability, Dubai provides an ideal platform for our brand. With utmost confidence, we anticipate that the astute clientele of Dubai will warmly embrace the meticulously designed, cruelty-free product range that Qaadu has to offer,” said Shafin Kalathingal, (pictured above), Founder of Qaadu.During the COVID crisis, Shafin Kalathingal, a dedicated investment banker in the UAE, experienced job loss. However, refusing to succumb, he summoned unwavering determination and unleashed his visionary creation, Qaadu, upon the world.Qaadu, which translates to 'forest' in several Indian languages, takes inspiration from nature and herbal remedies for all its formulas. Qaadu has partnered with several pharmacies and hypermarkets across the United Arab Emirates. The brand's products are now available across Lulu Hypermarkets in the UAE. Qaadu is also accessible across pharmacy stores of DOCIB Group, Med7 and Aster Group. Qaadu products are extensively available on the brand's official website, as well as popular platforms such as, Carrefour UAE, Mumzworld, Bevegan, Noon and more.Qaadu's product line encompasses skincare, hair care, bath and body, and wellness essentials. Each product is formulated with a meticulous approach, ensuring the highest standards of purity, efficacy, and environmental responsibility."Our wide-ranging product portfolio caters to a diverse spectrum of health and wellness needs. From nourishing hair care solutions to revitalizing skin care essentials, we offer a comprehensive selection suitable for individuals of all ages. Moving forward, our vision is to establish ourselves as the ultimate brand for health and beauty needs for the entire family," added Shafin.All products from Qaadu have obtained certifications from The Vegan Society of the United Kingdom, the oldest and most respected vegan certification available. Additionally, all their products are manufactured in facilities certified under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), and their nutraceuticals and ayurvedic wellness products are produced in facilities registered with the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).Qaadu has secured a favourable investment from an Angel Investor within the oil and gas industry. This funding will be allocated towards inventory management, product development, and marketing endeavors. The brand has also formed partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to initiate its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

GCC companies embrace AI to unlock value: McKinsey report

Dubai: A recent survey conducted by McKinsey & Company in partnership with the GCC Board Directors Institute has shed light on the current state of AI adoption in the GCC region. While some notable success stories have been publicized, the survey results indicate that there is still significant untapped value in AI implementation across various sectors in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.According to the survey, 62% of the 119 senior executives and board directors surveyed reported that AI is being used in at least one business function in their organisations. Although this figure aligns with North American adoption rates, it highlights that there is substantial potential for further AI utilization in the GCC region.The survey findings revealed that different sectors in the GCC countries have varying levels of AI adoption. Retail companies emerged as the fastest adopters of AI, with 75% of respondents from this sector indicating that their companies have implemented AI in at least one business function. On the other hand, financial services and capital projects and infrastructure sectors reported lower levels of progress in AI implementation.Several factors contribute to the discrepancy in AI adoption rates among sectors. Energy and materials companies, driven by international competition, have been early investors in AI to enhance efficiency in production, distribution, and maintenance processes. Retail companies, already possessing vast amounts of consumer data, have leveraged this data to expedite AI implementation. However, some industries face challenges related to data collection and infrastructure limitations, making it difficult to fully embrace AI.The survey also revealed that the current AI deployments in the region are merely scratching the surface of its potential. While companies are using AI predominantly in marketing and sales functions, the utilization of more advanced machine learning analytics and AI models remains limited. This indicates that significant value is being left untapped across various business operations.To accelerate AI adoption and unlock its potential in the GCC region, companies need to focus on building their AI capabilities in four key areas: strategy, organisation and talent, data and technology, and adoption and scaling. The survey respondents identified organisation and talent as the primary challenge in AI adoption, followed by data and technology, adoption and scaling, and strategy.To address these challenges, McKinsey recommends that companies:  1. Link AI strategy to the enterprise strategy by securing senior leadership buy-in, developing a business-led use case roadmap, and effectively communicating the strategy throughout the organisation.  2. Invest in building AI talent by creating an attractive value proposition, considering offshore services, investing in capability building, and collaborating with academia.  3. Establish a high-quality data pipeline and modern technology stack by managing data as a valuable asset and building a flexible technological architecture.  4. Overcome resistance to AI adoption by making analytics user-friendly, fostering collaboration between IT and business teams, and implementing a change management programme.The survey findings highlight the immense potential for AI adoption in the GCC region and the need for organisations to capitalize on this opportunity. By addressing the challenges and leveraging the recommended strategies, companies can accelerate AI implementation and unlock the untapped value that AI offers.Picture Credit:

Major increase, integration of women in GCC workforce: Report

DUBAI: A new report from Bain & Company, a global consultancy, has revealed that while the GCC has seen never-before change in terms of women representation in the workforce, proactive and measurable gender equity still needs to be achieved.The Advancing Gender Equity in the Middle East Workforce report includes the results of a survey of 1,150 professional men and women and diagnostics of 25 of the largest GCC organizations, in addition to focus groups and interviews with 50 female leaders in the GCC.Regional data from the report shows that governments across the GCC have played a significant role in catalyzing gender equity across sectors. Qatar at 60% and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at 53%, continue to lead the region when it comes to females participating in the workforce. Saudi Arabia has seen the fastest pace of change, reaching 37% female participation in the first quarter of 2023, exceeding the country’s Vision 2030 targets more than seven years ahead of schedule.Despite these significant strides, the GCC still faces one of the largest gender gaps in the world, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index.The gap is most evident at the leadership level. For example, approximately 7% of board seats are held by women in the GCC, versus 20% globally.By taking a closer look at the underlying causes, Bain & Company’s research highlights that 70% of women mention gender bias and stereotypes as the primary challenge, along with inadequate hiring processes, lack of mentorship, training, and support for work-life balance. These challenges hinder women’s corporate leadership advancement in the region, and similar challenges are faced globally.Research shows that teams that are gender and geographically diverse make better business decisions 87% of the time and 70% of top performing teams in the GCC have a higher percentage of women.Anne-Laure Malauzat, Partner and Chief DEI officer at Bain & Company Middle East, said: “Women have been changing the face of the workforce in the GCC, with a growing number of organizations reaching the tipping point of 30% representation. The government push for gender equity has been a massive trigger of this change and more organizations have seen the clear benefits of gender diversity and added it to their agenda in the last 5 years as a result. What is inspiring is that several of these organizations are homegrown and pioneering gender equity practices and policies at a global level in a way that is uniquely reflective of the region’s cultural and societal context.”Bain & Company has developed an approach rooted in research and experience that helps organizations gain an understanding of their starting point and decide on the best path forward, in terms of practices. This approach encompasses five key pillars:Holistic gender equity strategy, vision, and leadership commitmentWorkplace culture, inclusion, and belongingTalent journeyCompensation and benefitsExternal engagement with customers, suppliers, the community plus governments, and clear measurable goals supported by practical organizational policies and programsBased on our extensive research on these practices, three key models emerge along different maturity stages of the gender equity journey:Tier 1: Emerging Adopters are organizations just starting their equity journeyTier 2: Determined Learners are businesses that are picking up on their journeyTier 3: Trailblazers are the earliest global pioneers in gender equity practicesBain’s analysis showed that 50% of GCC organizations fall into Tier 1, while 40% are Tier 2, and less than 10% demonstrate Tier 3 attributes.Karen Khalaf, Partner and Women@Bain lead at Bain & Company Middle East said: “Women can add significant value to the workplace, but there are still too few women reaching board and corporate leadership positions in the region. There are so many levers organizations can pull to begin or further their gender equity journey; and if all organizations play their part – and learn from each other – we can further build on the momentum of the region and close the gender gap.”

Dubai to host Grand Finale of Eureka! GCC 2023

Dubai: Dubai is set to host the grand finale of Eureka! GCC 2023, Asia's largest business model competition, later this month in the presence of the UAE’s Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan.The Eureka! GCC finale at the Habtoor Palace, Dubai on May 26 will feature ten finalists, chosen from amongst 150 business plans from aspiring entrepreneurs and budding startup founders after a rigorous competition over seven months to assess their innovative ventures and commercial concepts. Each finalist will pitch their business ideas to a panel of prominent investors, venture capitalists, CEOs and industry leaders, to win the coveted Eureka! GCC title and a share of prizes worth US$100,000.Participants in the sector-agnostic competition, now in its second year, received a holistic entrepreneurship programme featuring business insight and knowledge, mentorship and other training appropriate for early-stage startup companies. Following an extensive screening process, 27 semi-finalist teams were selected to participate in advanced entrepreneurship training, with tailored workshops focusing on effective business planning and personalized mentoring from seasoned industry professionals over a five-week period. Ten finalists were chosen, based on mentors’ recommendations and business reports. The Eureka! GCC 2023 competition is powered once more by Gulf Islamic Investments (GII), a leading UAE-based Shari’ah-compliant global alternative investment company with over US$3 billion of assets under management. Its co-Founder and co-CEO, Pankaj Gupta commented, “Startups have the potential to create significant business growth and have already made a significant impact on the GCC economy in the past decade. Eureka! GCC provides the right platform for entrepreneurs to develop and launch their ideas, showcase their ventures, network with potential investors, and fast-track their growth.”Mr Gupta added, “We are most grateful for the support received from government ministries and industry leaders, which has undoubtedly contributed to the success of this entrepreneurship programme.”

Coffee Communications wins La Marzocco's communication mandate

Dubai: Coffee Communications, the Dubai-based brand consultancy and communications agency, has announced its partnership with La Marzocco as a new addition to its PR clientele. La Marzocco, recognized as the 'Best Luxury Coffee Makers in the World,' is a distinguished artisan company that specializes in crafting superior quality and exquisitely designed espresso machines, ensuring an unparalleled coffee experience. With a rich heritage and a reputation for excellence, this Italian manufacturer is celebrated for its pioneering role in creating the finest brews.Coffee Communications has been entrusted with the task of establishing and managing media communications for La Marzocco in the UAE and GCC region. Founded in 1927 by Giuseppe and Bruno Bambi, La Marzocco originated in Florence, a city steeped in the Italian Renaissance and revered for its association with brilliant minds like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Brunelleschi, who created some of the world's most iconic artworks.In addition to its industry leadership in espresso machines, La Marzocco also offers an array of home products designed to deliver an uncompromised espresso experience within the comforts of one's own abode. These products are complemented by a range of accessories, enabling coffee enthusiasts to achieve the perfect brew in the convenience of their homes.Coffee Communications Founder-CEO said: “We are thrilled to be adding a timeless brand, La Marzocco to our growing portfolio. We look forward to further developing the brand ethos and heritage – positioning La Marzocco as the one and only luxury pioneers of coffee machines in the region. Not only does this reflect the agency’s exceptional work and service delivered in the past years but it is also an opportunity to showcase our talent in the international market.”Established in 2016, Coffee Communications is renowned for providing bespoke, innovative, and integrated solutions to brands in the fashion, beauty, hospitality, and lifestyle sectors. With its expertise in strategic brand communication, Coffee Communications is poised to elevate La Marzocco's presence and reinforce its reputation as a symbol of refined coffee craftsmanship in the UAE and GCC market. becomes WhatsApp Business Solution Provider

Dubai:, a leading messaging platform that powers the future of business communications, has become a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider (BSP). The platform is now equipped to support and assist enterprises in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in effectively managing WhatsApp conversations with their customers and driving business growth.This recognition places the company in an exclusive category as a WhatsApp BSP globally, highlighting its commitment to offering the most cutting-edge messaging solutions that enhance customer communication and relationships.Following this, businesses using can now seamlessly integrate with the WhatsApp Business Platform directly from Meta’s cloud servers for faster updates and better message delivery times. With direct access to Meta’s support team, will also be able to better facilitate customer requests such as WhatsApp Business verification.As an omnichannel customer conversation management software, enables multiuser access to the WhatsApp Business Platform, making it possible to receive and respond to multiple customer messages from a single WhatsApp number. It adds value by providing businesses with a comprehensive set of tools, including an advanced automation builder and detailed analytics on team and agent performance. In addition, supports seamless integration with custom messaging channels and over 5,000 applications like CRMs and e-commerce platforms, such as Hubspot, Salesforce, Shopify, and Magento.With becoming a WhatsApp BSP, companies will also be able to manage their WhatsApp business accounts and conversations on This entails managing their WhatsApp business profile, creating and approving messaging templates, as well as viewing and paying for their WhatsApp conversation charges, all through a single enables businesses to comply with WhatsApp's policies and regulations, such as obtaining customer consent to receive messages from a business. By offering multiple chat entry points, such as ads that click to WhatsApp, QR codes and chat links, as well as obtaining opt-ins as part of an automated conversation with customers, removes the friction in customer communication.Gerardo Salandra, CEO of, said: “As a WhatsApp BSP, we are committed to offering clients a seamless messaging experience over WhatsApp. Our comprehensive messaging solutions cater to key GCC industries, such as e-commerce, healthcare, logistics, and hospitality, and we intend to innovate further to help businesses drive growth, brand loyalty, and revenue. looks forward to serving the rapidly growing GCC market and unlocking the full potential of instant messaging for businesses in the region.”In the GCC and Middle East, new businesses are quickly emerging across a variety of industries. As instant messaging usage has increased, businesses have turned to WhatsApp as their main means of customer communication. Given the sheer amount of WhatsApp users in the region, having a strong presence on this platform has become has contributed to the success stories of numerous GCC businesses, including Etisalat, Dalilk Academy, and Abjadiyat. It has also empowered organisations like Colour My Plate, a Dubai-based meal subscription service, and 800 Storage, a storage and warehousing company to boost their WhatsApp conversion rates by up to 40 per cent.The platform’s new status as a WhatsApp BSP equips to help businesses improve the efficiency of their messaging operations, as well as boost customer satisfaction and retention for steady business growth. Interested clients can try the messaging software for free and get a WhatsApp Business Platform account in minutes.

Green Corp takes a stake in Badia Farms to expand sustainable food production

Manama, Bahrain: Bahrain-based agribusiness platform Green Corp has acquired a stake in Badia Farms, the GCC’s first vertical farming company supplying gourmet produce to hotels and discerning consumers, to grow its sustainable food production projects across the GCC.The boost from Green Corp and its ultimate owner, leading Shari’ah-compliant global alternative investment company Gulf Islamic Investments (GII), will enable Badia Farms to expand its advanced production models and pesticide-free farms into Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, enhancing regional food production opportunities significantly.Green Corp takes a stake in Badia Farms to expand sustainable food production across the GCC. Image courtesy: Gulf Islamic Investments LLCEstablished in 2016, Badia Farms’ sustainable farming techniques produce nutritious fruits and vegetables without sunlight or soil. Its energy-efficient methods use up to 90% less water than traditionally-grown crops, with significantly higher yields.Omar Al Jundi, Badia Farms’ CEO, commented, “Green Corp’s partnership with Badia Farms demonstrates the strength of local backing for home-grown companies to resolve regional and global challenges. This funding provides Badia Farms with powerful means to enhance healthy domestic food production in the GCC. We look forward to providing premium, locally-produced fruits and vegetables using our high-tech farms across Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.Saleh AlBelushi, CEO of Green Corp, added, “Badia Farms fits perfectly into Green Corp’s regional development plan for food production and processing. Its fine products will be a success in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, as they have been in the UAE. Badia Farms also shares our strong focus on sustainability, as we look for opportunities to develop sustainable agricultural, aquaculture, food processing and production projects across the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC). Green Corp would welcome additional partners to develop these regional food sustainability plans together”.

Hire-as-you-go hotel marketing platform launches in the GCC region

In a landscape of ever-growing digital complexity and talent shortage, hotels have trouble getting the marketing expertise they genuinely need when needed, hence missing out on business opportunities. Newly launched Hotel Marketing Space has created a hire-as-you-go platform giving hotels in the GCC region access to a flexible team of world-class experts.The platform's services cover three main areas: digital marketing, social media, and photography/ videography. From a website SEO assessment to Instagram Reels to lifestyle photography, hotels can easily hire the specific marketing talent required per their business needs.In the words of the founder, Miret Padovani: "Hotels often face skill gaps due to temporary vacancies or the need for specialized skills that in-house marketing teams do not possess. With no agency fees or lengthy hiring processes, Hotel Marketing Space offers a quick, cost-efficient solution to fill these gaps."The company also provides luxury hotels with public relations representation in the US and nine European countries. The member agencies have decades of experience working with leading travel brands."When looking for PR representation abroad, hotels face the challenge of the agencies being too far away and rarely visiting the properties," says Padovani. "We get to know the hotels personally thanks to a local representative in Dubai and Riyadh - a huge plus. It also solves the headache of dealing with different time zones and up to 12 hours of time difference!"In addition to its core marketing and PR services, Hotel Marketing Space aims to contribute to the development of local talent by offering leadership and personal development training sessions."The growth of the hotel industry in the GCC region will only be possible if we develop strong marketing and communications leaders," says Padovani.To learn more about Hotel Marketing Space, visit