Assembly wins Virgin Mobile UAE account

Assembly, a global omni-channel media agency will be taking the new account of Virgin Mobile UAE.From now, Assembly will be responsible for building Virgin Mobile UAE’s affiliate network and enhancing its user experience. It will also be in-charge of managing Virgin Mobile’s digital activities to take on its many campaigns, which include paid and organic media channels, and data and analytics. Therefore, Assembly will act as a CRM consultancy for Virgin Mobile. Faisal Dean, CEO of Assembly MENA expressed his excitement on winning the Virgin Mobile UAE account. He shares, “The partnership will showcase our commitment to collaborate with clients as business partners, providing market leading activations touching all stages of the customer journey. With our strengths in data, talent and tech, we are confident in delivering exceptional value to find the change that fuels growth for Virgin Mobile UAE.”Rob Beswick, Managing Director, Virgin Mobile UAE ,shares: “Assembly MENA has demonstrated their ability to effectively navigate the complexities of the advertising landscape. We are excited about this partnership, and we are looking forward to working together with them in elevating our brand, engaging with our customers in innovative and impactful ways and unlocking new avenues of success.”Virgin Mobile UAE had also recently appointed Havas Middle East to be its creative and public relations partner.

Hana Khatib to handle two positions at GroupM

GroupM has appointed Hana Khatib as Chief Operating Officer (COO)-Effeciency Hubs. Hana, who is already the Regional MD Levant for GroupM, will retain her position. She will be handling both the senior positions simultaneously.  Hana is a highly experienced and dedicated professional who has consistently excelled at Mindshare and within the broader GroupM family. Her expertise in operational excellence, strategic management, and the art of driving efficient processes has consistently been demonstrated throughout her remarkable journey within the Group.As COO of the Efficiency Hubs, Hana will be instrumental in overseeing all regional operations.Amer El Hajj, CEO, GroupM, MENA, said: “Hana's appointment signifies the pivotal role the COO - Efficiency Hubs holds in driving operational excellence, refining resource utilization, and streamlining processes within our dynamic Efficiency Hubs.”

UM pioneers a Global-First application crafted with AI Technology for MediaMarkt

UM Turkey has launched a never-seen-before AI application that revolutionises the product sales experience for consumers, UM partnered with, MediaMarkt, developing an e-commerce application that seamlessly incorporates AI into the very core of both and sales strategy. The result is an innovative creation named "Mother AI," which has ushered in exceptional value for both the consumer experience and client business growth.The ideaLeveraging the universal belief that mothers possess unparalleled wisdom, MediaMarkt's Mother's Day campaign birthed "Mother AI. Inspired by the astounding capabilities of GPT-4, UM Turkey replicated the warmth and guidance of mothers in AI form. This AI persona, with its maternal touch, was prominently showcased on renowned news website Onedio. Acting as an advisor, it recommended the perfect gifts, subtly directing users towards MediaMarkt products. Beyond simply assisting with gift choices, the tool ensured discussions remained brand-aligned and avoided controversies. It's not just an advancement in technology; it's a celebration of maternal intuition in our digital era.The result MediaMarkt's Mother's Day campaign was a notable success, both in-store and online. Mother AI, as an innovative touchpoint, played a subtle yet effective role in this achievement. Facilitating various interactions with users, its incorporation showcased the potential of GPT-4 in creating meaningful brand experiences. Gaining media attention, Mother AI was featured in several news outlets. This initiative not only emphasized MediaMarkt's aptitude for merging advanced technology with tailored customer service but also strengthened its position in a digitally evolving retail world."We are excited to see work involving AI that adds meaningful value to media and the end consumer. Following the resounding success of this global-first application, we are committed to further exploration while upholding these core principles. This is only the beginning.", commented CEO of UM MENAT, Joe Nicolas.  Tolga Ünvan, Marketing, Corporate Communication and E-Commerce Director, MediaMarkt Turkey, added, “This technology will simplify people’s lives as it emerges in various sectors from health to education, tourism to finance. At MediaMarkt, we define ourselves as the best place to experience electronics and technology. I believe “Mother AI” is a very innovative technology that enhances the total customer experience by helping customers in both emotional and functional ways. In the near future, companies will have various advantages to attract consumers with different approaches on different platforms. Artificial intelligence will open up exciting new business areas, and we are proud to be global-first players in this impressive arena.”UM Turkey’s Account Director for MediaMarkt, Gizem Atik and Project Director, Emre Candan, said, “The excitement we feel with "Mother AI" is not just about its intersection with our visions related to digital, technology, and marketing communication at MediaMarkt and UM, but also about how this groundbreaking technology transforms itself into a communication tool, indicating the future shifts in our profession.”

Union Coop: Stores and e-commerce portals enhance market captivation

Dubai-based Consumer Cooperative ‘Union Coop’ has affirmed that the present market saturation with stores and e-commerce portals has enhanced competitiveness in the markets, especially in the retail outlets that now employ innovative methods to promote products and offer discounts that sometimes reach up to 50% to 70% to stimulate online purchases and motivate consumers to take advantage of the promotions. In its report, the Cooperative stated that the growth of e-commerce has led to an increase in the number of consumers using online platforms, as the percentage of online sales is steadily increasing on a monthly basis, as per the statistical data reported by each store. This is due to the time and effort saved for consumers, who can now see all the available offers from different outlets at once, whether at work or at home, and compare them before making a purchase. The majority of outlets have started offering online purchasing with either ‘on-site pickup’ or free home delivery, subject to certain conditions such as the purchase ratio and invoice amount, and this is exactly what the Cooperative has implemented and offered to all consumers.Union Coop emphasized that consumers have a high level of trust in e-commerce platforms due to the services provided that protect their rights, offer attractive alternatives, and provide reasonable pricing, especially for highly demanded electronic products, food, and non-food items.It should also be noted that retail outlets have increased their competitiveness through these platforms by reducing delivery time and fees, preserving the right to return goods if they do not meet specifications, providing shopping wallets, and earning loyalty points to reach a wider range of consumers and boost their sales.The Cooperative disclosed that it handles more than 1,100 online orders daily, offering a wide variety of products in its smart store. New products are added and updated daily, in line with the retail sector developments. It also mentioned that the ‘Dubai Chamber of Commerce’ predicts that e-commerce’s share of retail sales in the UAE will reach 12.6% of total retail sales by 2026, indicating promising growth opportunities in the e-commerce market and the rapid adoption of e-commerce in the UAE. This analysis indicates an increase in price transparency by providing price comparisons for products sold through online platforms.Furthermore, it continued to highlight that all indicators suggest significant interest in e-commerce within the retail sector, with continuous updates to sales platforms through their applications or smart websites to keep up with ongoing developments in this field and provide better services to enable continuous growth of this sector.

Tech Innovation Institute Launches Falcon 180B: World's Mightiest Open LLM

The Technology Innovation Institute (TII) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is pushing the boundaries of generative AI once again with the launch of Falcon 180B, an advanced iteration of its flagship large language model (LLM). This groundbreaking release strengthens the UAE's dominance in AI, offering Falcon 180B as an open access model for research and commercial purposes.Following the remarkable success of Falcon 40B, an open source AI model that swiftly ascended to the top of the Hugging Face Leaderboard for LLMs in May 2023, TII, the applied research pillar of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) continues to lead the charge in generative AI. Falcon 40B marked one of the first instances of open source models for both researchers and commercial users, and it was considered a pioneering leap in the field.H.E. Faisal Al Bannai, Secretary General of the Advanced Technology Research Council, emphasized the positive impact of Falcon on the AI landscape and said: “We envision a future where the transformative power of AI is within everyone's reach. We are committed to democratizing access to advanced AI, as our privacy and the potential impact of AI on humanity should not be controlled by a select few. While we may not have all the answers, our resolve remains unwavering: to collaborate and contribute to the open source community, ensuring that the benefits of AI are shared by all.”With a staggering 180 billion parameters and trained on 3.5 trillion tokens, Falcon 180B soars to the top of the Hugging Face Leaderboard for pretrained LLMs. It outperforms notable competitors like Meta’s LLaMA 2 in various benchmarks, including reasoning, coding, proficiency, and knowledge tests.Among the best closed source LLMs, Falcon 180B ranks just behind OpenAI's latest GPT 4 and is on par with the performance of Google's PaLM 2 Large, the model powering Bard – despite being half the size of the model. The licensing framework for the model is established on ‘Falcon 180B TII License’, which is based upon Apache 2.0.Dr. Ebtesam Almazrouei, Executive Director and Acting Chief Researcher of the AI Cross-Center Unit at TII, said: "The launch of Falcon 180B exemplifies our dedication to advancing the frontiers of AI, and we are thrilled to share its limitless potential with the world. Falcon 180B heralds a new era of generative AI, where the potential of scientific advancement is made available through open access to fuel the innovations of tomorrow. As we delve into frontiers of science and technology, our vision extends far beyond innovation; it's about nurturing a profound connection to address global challenges through collaborative breakthroughs.”With over 12 million developers adopting and deploying the first release of Falcon, this significant upgrade is poised to become the premier model for various domains, from chatbots to code generation, and beyond.Falcon 180B is compatible with the following major languages: English, German, Spanish, and French, with limited capabilities in Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Dutch, Romanian, Czech, and Swedish.

81% Emirati talents at 2023 Sheraa's Startup Dojo Youth Incubation Program

Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa –, has launched the 2023 edition of the Startup Dojo, the summer incubation program designed to empower young entrepreneurs. The eight-week intensive training and mentorship program takes place every summer to enable young talent to develop their entrepreneurial solutions and gain real-world experience of starting and running their own businesses.In 2023, Sharjah was ranked within the Top 5 Emerging MENA Ecosystems in Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER). Last year, Sheraa’s startups saw a 26% increase in funds raised, totalling $161 million and have generated revenue of $247 million. This year, Startup Dojo has seen strong participation from Emirati youth who make up 81% of attendees at this prestigious program. The participation demographic for this edition is reflective of Sharjah’s vibrant ecosystem and its myriad entrepreneurial opportunities in a variety of sectors.Startup Dojo 2023 will benefit a 50-participant cohort from various UAE universities who represent 15 diverse teams, each with a unique idea that has immense entrepreneurial potential. Sheraa has included groups that exhibited excellence in their previously held Sheraa Sustainability Hackathon 2023 and at the Sheraa Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) 2022 in order to ensure the continuance of their entrepreneurial journeys, which is a key objective for the entity.Najla Al Midfaa, CEO of Sheraa, commented, “Like any formative life skill, entrepreneurship is seen to reap wonderful results when taught early. This incubation program is one of Sheraa’s leading youth-focused platforms, where their creativity, passion and impact-driving attitude are encouraged and honed to a point where they feel confident about entering the competitive world of entrepreneurship”.“Each year, we see students coming up with new ideas, demanding new knowledge and skill sets, and expecting bespoke training reflective of fast-changing global trends and market demands. In this sense, Startup Dojo needs to serve the youth as a dynamic mentoring platform that fulfils their aspirations while also teaching them the core and unchanging fundamentals of entrepreneurship,” she added.Diversity and inclusion at the heart of the programThe incubation program fosters diversity and inclusivity with a balanced participant representation of participants. Among the 15 participating teams, 38 percent are from the American University of Sharjah (AUS), 31 percent hail from the University of Sharjah (UoS), and the remaining 31 percent represent other universities in the UAE.Moreover, the program further upholds gender equality, with a 50:50 male-female participant ratio.After learning how to build and market business ideas with the support of other innovators, industry mentors and successful entrepreneurs, the top three teams will receive benefits including commercial licences and grants that will serve as a stepping stone for venture building activities.Sheraa’s mission is to maximise human potential, empower entrepreneurial talent, and foster a nurturing startup ecosystem that draws the world towards Sharjah.

Mashreq appoints Hamda Al Shamali

 Mashreq, one of the leading financial institutions in the UAE and the Middle East, today announced the appointment of Hamda Al Shamali in the newly created role of Chief People and Intellectual Capital Officer.In this role, Hamda will bring her significant human capital and talent development expertise to lead and grow human resources, nurture and develop Mashreq talent, and support culture and engagement enhancement programmes across the organization. She will be responsible for leading key priorities such as DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion), streamlining distributed workforce and hybrid working models, automation of EX journeys and evolving our employees wellbeing discipline into the broader and more comprehensive organizational health approach.Hamda is a seasoned senior Emirati human resources professional with a strong track record spanning more than 20 years of accomplishments with leading local and international organizations.Prior to joining Mashreq, Hamda was the Executive Director, Human Resources at The National Health Insurance Company – Daman, overseeing all aspects of the company's Human Resources function. She also led the Business and Culture project at Daman, being a part of their global HR community which helped steer the company transform their vision, culture, technology and resources. Her experience also includes leading Nationalization and Local Talent across multiple roles in GCC for international banks such as HSBC Bank Middle East and Barclays Plc.Commenting on her appointment, Ahmed Abdelaal, Group Chief Executive Officer, Mashreq, said: “Hamda is a proven leader in building excellence and taking an innovative approach to HR, and her fresh perspective combined with the distinctive strength of Mashreq as a brand makes her uniquely positioned to front our endeavors to support nationalization programmes around the region, attract top talents and world class leaders while fostering a workplace culture that engages and motivates employees to rise every day, which ismission critical for our future growth strategy. I look forward to working closely with Hamda to maintain and enhance our status as one of the best places to work.”Hamda Al Shamali added: “I am delighted to be joining Mashreq at such an exciting time in its growth, as the bank aims to adopt a challenger brand status and seeks to achieve social and economic impact by supporting the aspirations, dreams and needs of every customer.Attracting and retaining the right talent will be an essential part of this strategy. I look forward to capitalizing on my experience in the financial services sector to further nurture human capital and strengthen the bank’s role in providing best in class products and services to its customers.”Hamda holds a Bachelor’s degree of Applied Science in Business Administration from Higher Colleges of Technology Dubai.