BKN301 partners with CWallet to empower digital payments in MENA Region

BKN301 Group, a Fintech company offering Innovative Payments and Banking-as-a-Service solutions with a focus on high-growth markets especially in the MENA area, continues its development strategy, fostering its growth in the Middle East, especially in Qatar, where it opened a new branch last July, that will help the company better serve the Arabic Gulf.As part of this growth and as a result of the interest of fast growing countries in innovative payments and financial solutions, BKN301 signed a partnership with CWallet, an award winning Fintech startup, with Payment Service Provider (PSP) licensed from Qatar Central Bank committed in providing financial freedom and inclusion to a growing number of customers. Thanks to this agreement BKN301 provides CWallet with a state-of-the-art platform that will improve the customer experience, increase security and respond to the everchanging needs of people.CWallet's core business is focused on the development of remittance platforms, enabling digital cross-border money transfers and thanks to the partnership with BKN301, the company takes a significant leap forward in the products it offers to its clients, that will be able to monitor, manage and collect their payments, using an innovative gateway, seamlessly integrating with the solutions offered by CWallet.In particular, CWallet will integrate 301pay, the BKN301’s payment gateway available in white-label mode, designed to facilitate not only e-commerce development but also mobile payments in physical stores. With this new integration into CWallet, the advantages for affiliated Qatari merchants are heightened. On one hand, they will have access to manage transactions and have a complete view of business performance thanks to statistics showing real-time collections, payments, refunds and aggregated data on sales volumes. On the other hand, they can receive payments not only through e-commerce but also through physical in-store transactions via the CWallet App, enabling customers to use their wallet for daily expenses and purchases.This completes CWallet's value proposition to its users, expanding its reach not only in remittance payments but also in facilitating payments through a digital wallet at affiliated merchants via the CWallet App.According to the latest report by the Qatar Central Bank, the Fintech sector is expected to bring many tangible benefits to the population and to the economy, as the industry is set to grow by 40 to 50 times the current size by 2027. Qatar is living a strong expansion of its digital payments market, thanks to a great interest in innovative banking services, the total value of digital transactions in the country will grow at a CAGR of 12.4% over the next 4 years, reaching $10.47 billion in 2027 (1).Stiven Muccioli, Founder & CEO of BKN301, says: "This partnership with CWallet represents a new important step in our expansion in Qatar and a testament to the power and adaptability of our modular solutions. Our mission has always been to break down barriers and accelerate the spread of digital payments and innovative financial solutions in high growth markets. A goal that we share with CWallet, committed in providing financial freedom and inclusion, and that together we can reach by bringing new and innovative solutions that can have a real impact on the lives and well-being of the population”.Michael Javier, Founder and CEO of CWallet, says: “We have found in BKN301 a strategic partner able to provide what we were looking for: a cutting-edge solution that could improve the experience we offer, always guaranteeing the greatest security and ease of use on both ends, to clients and merchants. Thanks to this partnership and to the wide range of opportunities that it will bring to us, we are committed in improving the financial well-being and inclusion of many people, allowing users to borrow, save, earn, and invest for their future”.Jordan A. Fabbri, Country Leader BKN301 Qatar, says: “Together with CWallet, we are shaping the future of payment services in Qatar. Through our strategic partnership, we’re unlocking doors to advanced payment solutions, bringing a wave of innovation and international convenience”.

Kwai appoints Advert on Click as its advertising agent for the MENA region

Joyo Technology Pte. Ltd, the owner and operator of the Kwai short-video sharing App, has revealed a contract agreement with ‘Advert on Click’ to manage the promotion and sale of the ad spaces on the Kwai app in the Middle East and North Africa.Under the agreement, ‘Advert on Click’ will Kwai’s media sales to advertisers who want to reach over19 million users in the MENA region.Commenting on the agreement, Fahed Aldeeb, CEO of Advert on Click, said: "Kwai App has witnessed remarkable growth in the number of new users in the MENA region, in addition to a significant increase in the volume of Arabic content pumped by content creators from various Arab countries in different fields.""The Kwai App offers advertisers opportunities of significant impact on users in terms of the timing of display of ads or the ads broadcasting process within the user-targeted content. It also enhances interaction between users and advertisers in a manner that enables advertisers to achieve a greatest return during their advertising campaign on the Kwai App with reasonable cost," Aldeeb added."Advert on Click will market the advertising spaces offered by Kwai App to its network of advertisers on the platform and through its partnerships with other advertising agencies operating in the MENA region and beyond, with the aim of reaching the largest number of advertisers from different sectors and fields."According to a report released by Statista, in 2021, global spending on social media advertising amounted to nearly $116 billion, with this figure is expected to double to exceed $262 billion by 2028.In 2020, global social media advertising spending per user was $28.30, out of which $22.4 per user was spent on mobile social media advertising, with expectations that mobile advertising spending will rise to more than $33 per user by 2025.

Introducing shiplifier, a unified platform set to streamline e-commerce shipping

Shiplifier, a homegrown platform providing seamless shipping solutions under one dashboard, has formally launched operations, coming in as a key solution to ecommerce businesses to secure reduced shipping rates from multiple shipping companies. At the North Star’s Supernova Competition held at GITEX in 2022, Shiplifier were a finalist for its Top 10 Startup of the MENA Region. Founded by CEO Ali Javaheri, Shiplifier was born out of desire to streamline and automate shipping logistics for e-commerce businesses. A traditionally tedious process that typically requires users to shop rates from various couriers via different platforms. Since its inception in March, Shiplifier has garnered more than 300 customers and ecommerce businesses, amassing a Month-to-Month increase of 100%. Shiplifier’s achievements and strategic courier rates from multiple third party logistics grants businesses unprecedented flexibility with access to competitive rates from couriers including I Mile Delivery, DHL, FedEx, Aramex, Zajel and SMSA Express. Shiplifier is a cost-effective path delivering in a timely manner by streamlining key operations empowering businesses to efficiently process, ship, track, and monitor packages. The platform significantly reduces the time businesses spend on logistics management, through consolidation and conveniently accessible within a unified and user-friendly platform.Drawing from his four years of invaluable experience within the shipping and e-commerce industry in North America, Shiplifier’s CEO Ali Javaheri comments, “Today, users are accustomed to placing orders for food that encompasseses all aspects from cooking, preparation, packaging and the delivery. Similarly with Shiplifier, customers can expect the same 360 solutions for their ecommerce business when it comes to shipping and logistics.” Shiplifier’s extensive network not only provides businesses the freedom to choose from top-tier shipping solutions but also facilitates smooth integration with leading e-commerce platforms, elevating the overall efficiency of logistics and order processing.

Batelco launches mobile peering in the MENA region

Manama, Bahrain: Batelco, part of the Beyon Group, announces its latest service “Mobile Peering” which is available on Manama IX (MN-IX) for members of the platform. Batelco is the first in the MENA region to offer a Mobile Peering service, which is an open interconnecting solution, enabling mobile operators and Internet Packet Exchange (IPX) providers to securely exchange their global mobile roaming data.The many benefits of this service include enhanced network efficiency and reduced latency by establishing direct connections between mobile providers on MN-IX. Exchanging mobile traffic directly with other mobile networks results in a better roaming experience for the mobile operators’ end users. Additionally, the mobile peering service eliminates the need to pay a third party to carry mobile data traffic, hence reducing overall costs, which can be passed on to the end-users, leading to more competitive mobile roaming data plans.Batelco continuously aims to diversify and add services to its portfolio, to offer their customers a suite of services that caters to their evolving needs. Batelco’s vision behind Manama-IX is to be the leading IX in the MENA region and to contribute towards the development of Internet connectivity services across the region.

VT Markets appoints Eslam Elshafay as Operations Manager for MENA Region

VT Markets, a leading global forex broker, is pleased to announce the appointment of Eslam Elshafay as Operations Manager for the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. With a wealth of experience in the forex industry, including a successful tenure at Accuindex, Eslam brings valuable expertise to his new role. Eslam Elshafay joins VT Markets with a remarkable track record in the field, having served as the CS & Operations Manager at Accuindex for two and a half years. During his time at Accuindex, Eslam showcased exceptional leadership skills and a deep understanding of operational efficiency in the forex market. His dedication to providing exceptional customer service and driving operational excellence played a pivotal role in Accuindex's success.With over five years of experience in the forex industry, Eslam possesses a comprehensive understanding of the market's dynamics and a keen eye for identifying emerging trends. His expertise in risk management, compliance, and operational strategies will prove instrumental in further enhancing VT Markets' position as a leading player in the industry.As the Operations Manager for VT Markets in the MENA region, Eslam Elshafay will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations, ensuring seamless execution of services, and maintaining the highest standards of customer satisfaction. His strong leadership abilities and strategic vision will help streamline internal processes, drive organizational growth, and foster a culture of excellence within the MENA region.I am thrilled to be joining VT Markets as their Operations Manager for the MENA region," said Eslam Elshafay. VT Markets is renowned for its commitment to providing clients with innovative trading solutions and exceptional service. I look forward to working closely with the talented team in the region and contributing to the company's continued success in the global forex market.

Digital Ad Expert: expansion to MENA region offering courses in Arabic & French

Aleph, which connects local and global advertisers with billions of consumers worldwide through digital media, is excited to announce that Digital Ad Expert by Aleph, a social initiative to create economic opportunities through digital advertising education, is now available in Arabic & French. The program was originally launched in MENA in April 2023 in English and Spanish.Digital Ad Expert by Aleph aims to equip the next generation of digital marketers with premium, free skills-based education through its Digital Ad Expert Certificate program in countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria among other MENA countries, where there is vast opportunity for digital growth and a rise in demand for digital marketing talent.The digital advertising landscape is a fast-developing industry, with high demand for experts. Digital Advertising spend alone in the MENA region reached $4.58B in 2021, nearly a full $1B increase on the previous year according to the IAB GCC. Growth in digital advertising reflects a growing shift towards digitizing economies in MENA. In the region, fully digitizing the economy would lead to a 46% increase in GDP per capita over 30 years - or in dollar terms, a long-term gain of $1.6 trillion, according to The World Bank.The demand for digital skills remains high in the MENA region and Aleph's Digital Ad Expert Certificate program accredits newcomers, with no prior experience, to effectively learn how to advertise on the world's leading digital platforms. The program provides specific, in-depth knowledge of the major global advertising platforms including TikTok, LinkedIn, Snapchat, ???? (the platform formerly known as Twitter), and Meta, among others. To join, applicants simply need to register for free on   and complete the introductory course. The program is hosted on the same platform, which also offers updated content, best cases, and other valuable material for consultation, in addition to masterclasses by renowned experts from Aleph.Gaston Taratuta, CEO of Aleph stated: "We are on a mission to empower a new generation of global digital professionals. I want us to close the digital skills gap and certify as many people as we can to set them up for success in an ever evolving digital world. We owe it to the communities we are in. I believe that education is the only currency that never devaluates and through our platform, we are offering that currency to aspiring digital marketers and advertisers worldwide. They will have the access and knowledge they need to flourish in the digital era as we make digital advertising accessible to all."Already more than 280k students in over 140 countries have registered in the Digital Ad Expert by Aleph initiative, providing glowing reviews, averaging 9.2 points on a scale of 10. Ever since the launch back in April, the number of registered students from the MENAT region reached 45,124 from 14 countries. We have received more than 11,000 requests for the French language and more than 9,000 requests for the Arabic language and now with the launch of both languages we expect the number of registrations and certification to increase even more. Digital Ad Expert by Aleph also has alliances with several prominent universities in the region including American University in Dubai, The American University in Cairo, DGCI. The Knowledge Hub Universities among many others in the pipeline.

Starzplay to showcase Cricket World Cup in MENA region

From October 5 to November 19, Starzplay, the streaming service serving the MENA region, will broadcast the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023. This tournament, in its 13th edition, will feature ten teams, engaging in a round-robin format. The top four teams, including the 2019 champions, England, will advance to the Semi-Finals. Notably, this World Cup is unique as it's the first time India hosts it individually since their last co-hosting in 1987, 1996, and 2011. Furthermore, this is the final time ten teams will compete, as the 2027 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup will expand to include fourteen teams.Evision, the media division of e&, has secured the rights for its CricLife channels, making them the primary cricket broadcast platform in the MENA region. The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 will be showcased on CricLife Max and CricLife Max 2, both available for streaming on Starzplay.Starzplay's Chief Operations Officer, Danny Bates, expressed enthusiasm, stating: “The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 is the biggest event of the year, and we are excited to bring this prestigious tournament to fans across MENA. At Starzplay, we are committed to providing our subscribers with a diverse range of world-class sport, and bringing the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup to Starzplay re-enforces that commitment. Our platform has witnessed remarkable viewership with previous ICC tournaments, and we are confident that this year’s Cricket World Cup will be no exception.”Olivier Bramly, CEO at evision, said: “We are committed to delivering the pinnacle of sports and entertainment content, sourced both locally and globally. Our very own CricLife brand that is now the Home of Cricket in MENA region is proud to be the Official Broadcaster for ICC Men’s World Cup and we are elated to bring this to the customers through Starzplay.”

Sherpa Communications named the most trusted B2B agency in the MENA Region

Dubai: Sherpa Communications, a strategic public relations and communications agency in Dubai providing PR services for companies within the UAE and the Middle East, was awarded the Most Trusted B2B PR Agency in the MENA Region as a recognition of its constant support and guidance to its clients at Estesmarat Magazine’s Sixth Award Ceremony at Atlantis the Palm, Dubai. Anastasiya Golovatenko, Account Director at Sherpa Communications, received the award by His Highness Sheikh Salim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Civil Aviation in Ras Al Khaimah, in the presence of Mr. Mohamed Shams El Din, the Chairman and Founder of Estesmarat Emirati magazine and Future Forum for Arab Investments FF22020AI.In a room engulfed with potential and filled with prominent personalities, such as H.E Khalifa Saif Al Muhairbi, Chairman of Arabian Gulf Investment Group, H.E Ali Rashid Al Jarwan, CEO of Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company, and Mustafa Agha, TV Presenter in MBC, Sherpa’s representatives felt empowered, and this has strengthened Sherpa to keep working on presenting its clients in the best way and helping them secure prominent presence in the GCC media.Over the course of the past year, each member in Sherpa Communications has worked their absolute best to support experts who operate in a spectrum of industries: Technology & Digital | Data Analytics & Cloud Management | Crypto & Metaverse, Blockchain | Fintech | Healthcare & Pharma| Construction & Real Estate | Smart Logistics & Warehousing | Information security | Automotive & Smart Mobility | Esports | Education | Interior Design amongst others. On this occasion, Anastasiya Golovatenko, Account Director, Sherpa Communications, said: “We supported our experts to secure tier 1 media coverage across print, online, and broadcast verticals, helped them bring their vision for the business to life, and catalyzed their growth in this region and in international markets. Our efforts had a positive impact and our clients were able to close multi-million dollar contracts, secure funding, increase brand visibility, and develop a strong regional presence.”She added: “Trust in business means everything. We are delighted to receive the Most Trusted B2B PR Agency in the MENA Region award by Estesmarat Magazine, recognizing Sherpa Communications team as a trusted partner to businesses, especially in the B2B space, which we specialize in. We are honoured to work with multinational organizations across various industries as well as support homegrown SMEs with their campaigns and communications across the Middle East and Africa regions.”Additionally, the agency’s Senior Public Relations Executive, Mechelin Wehbi received the Individual Achievement in PR and Communication Award, celebrating her contribution to the Sherpa team and the industry.

Anghami launches AI-powered personalized podcast

Abu Dhabi: Anghami, the leading music and entertainment streaming platform in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, has launched its AI-powered personalized podcast, which it says is the first of its kind in the world, taking innovation to the next level and revolutionizing the way we get valuable updates.  The platform is also releasing its first ever daily news podcast – Anghami AI Newsroom – generated solely by Artificial Intelligence. Anghami will soon unveil a new feature that empowers users to create their own personalized podcasts, by providing Anghami’s AI with a set of topics, users will receive a customized daily digest, available through a forthcoming premium subscription tier. Topics range from local and global news, to music, sports, technology, business, and more. To enhance personalization, users can select their preferred voices, choose from a variety of languages including English, Arabic and French and customize their own podcast with a unique description and title. Anghami’s AI then crafts a podcast specifically tailored to their interests, providing a unique and unparalleled experience – a significant shift in how we receive daily updates.“Anghami AI Newsroom” is a groundbreaking daily news podcast produced solely by Artificial Intelligence, without human intervention. The unconventional podcast autonomously researches and curates relevant topics, delivers concise summaries, and records content in multiple languages, thus acting as its own editor. Fresh episodes are released every morning on Anghami, recapping the news from the previous day. Anghami is also leveraging its existing algorithms that identify popular and emerging songs, feeding that information to the AI system to generate a music news segment that offers listeners the latest updates and trends in the music industry.The new feature is powered by OpenAI’s GPT models, utilizing a diverse array of trusted sources from both regional and international outlets. “We are excited to introduce this cutting-edge feature enabling users to personalize their daily content and curate a unique audio journey. This is a testament to our ongoing commitment to innovation and delivering exceptional user experiences,” said Elie Habib, Co-Founder of Anghami. “Our use of AI technology allows us to deliver accurate news updates in multiple languages tailored to our audience preferences. This is a significant milestone for Anghami and the audio streaming industry in the MENA region.”By introducing its latest innovative additions, Anghami aims to showcase the unbeatable capabilities of AI, especially when used in audio-content generation. The platform is committed to constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible, not only by offering users a new way to stay on top of updates, but also by providing a remarkable and personalized experience that is tailored to their interests.

Mbank CEO Mohammed Wassim Khayata wins MENA ‘Digital Innovator of the Year’

Dubai: Mohammed Wassim Khayata, Chief Executive Officer at Mbank, the leading digital bank in the UAE, was awarded the prestigious "Digital Innovator of the Year" MENA Banking Excellence Award 2023 by Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) that celebrates outstanding achievements and innovations within the banking and finance industry in the Middle East and North Africa region. Khayata was applauded for his insightful strategies leading the next-generation digital bank in the Emirates that have revolutionized the entire banking industry in the digital business landscape; all while driving a culture that values agility, innovation, and a lean AI-powered digital approach.The MENA Banking Awards recognize and celebrate the high-performing banks and most innovative financial figures in the region, showcasing their achievements and promoting best practices. Winning this award further cements Khayata's position as a trailblazer and a leading player in the banking and finance industry.Digital innovation is everchanging the financial services industry and how it positively impacts end customers. The number one solution to the world’s major challenges is digital, and its convergence into business models is crucial. Future technologies, the evolution of robotics and automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital innovations are here to stay, and they’re going to make an extraordinary set of transformations to the betterment of the world. The future has proven that ‘cash is no longer king’ and that payment transactions will instead be made through smartphones or wearables, rendering physical cards unnecessary.Al Maryah Community Bank stands out from the competition through its digitization of the entire banking experience by developing the Mbank UAE mobile application that has exceled in serving customers across the Emirates by providing them with a range of fully digital banking services tailored to the highest levels of quality, efficiency, security and comfort – without the need to visit any branch or submit any documents physically. With its integrated set of safe digital banking products and services, Mbank offers through its mobile application virtual cards, payments, and digital saving deposit accounts for the Nation’s youth – Generation Alpha – to encourage savings and financial planning skills for their future. Moreover, Mbank offers its corporate customers a Corporate Banking Suite with many tailored financial solutions that facilitate the opening of business accounts for all types of companies. In addition, customers interested in investment opportunities can enjoy an unparalleled experience by creating their National Investment Numbers and subscribing to IPOs on both ADX & DFM – via an entirely digital experience.Khayata recently announced the release of the newest product: Mbank Wallet, the UAE’s first national digital wallet that has been approved and licensed by the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates. This addition to Al Maryah Community Bank’s financial technology suite illustrates the bank’s continued promise in building the most advanced mobile payment experience for its customers. Through Mbank Wallet, end-users will be able to perform all daily financial transactions including but not limited to sending, receiving, requesting, and paying money.On this occasion, Mohammed Wassim Khayata, CEO of Al Maryah Community Bank, commented: “I am honored to have been awarded the title of ‘Digital Innovator of the Year’. This recognition is a testament to my dedication, commitment, and passion in leading a team of highly skilled and devoted employees who strive tirelessly to deliver exceptional products and add value to our services in order to continue leading the way, driving positive change, and serving the overall community through digital innovation. I am happy to announce that we will be soon introducing our Corporate Banking Platform that will offer all business types the ability to open a fully digital account using the Mbank UAE mobile app in 6 simple steps, in less than 10 minutes, with zero minimum balance, and zero monthly fees”.He added: “I thank the MEED team for nominating me and congratulate all businesses and prominent figures in the FinTech industry who have won in other categories”.

APCO Worldwide acquires Dubai-based NGC International Advisory

APCO Worldwide has acquired NGC International Advisory—multinational agency based in Dubai, specialising in public policy, government affairs and regulatory affairs in the MENA region—and Strategic Advice—Italy-based public affairs firm—APCO CEO Brad Staples announced today.“I sincerely welcome our NGC and Strategic Advice colleagues to APCO and look forward to learning from their regional and global expertise and insight, on which many clients across industries, sectors and regions have relied,” Staples said.NGC is powered by a team of experts with collective experience of nearly a century, serving clients across the region with operations in the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan. NGC Managing Partner Mohamed Bahaa will serve as NGC International Advisory’s CEO and APCO’s managing director of public affairs in the MENA region.“APCO and NGC share deeply rooted values—prioritizing dedication, expertise, passion, equality and diversity—and this common bond makes us stronger collectively,” Bahaa said. “The practice of public affairs is a fairly nascent one in the dynamic MENA region, but one that is critically important to multinational companies and other clients looking to align their objectives with key government priorities, secure their permission to operate and achieve their goals.”Mamoon Sbeih, president of APCO’s MENA region, said, “this acquisition further reinforces APCO’s public affairs offering in the MENA region—providing clients with enhanced public policy advisory and support, government relations and communications management, regulatory affairs support and management, policy and regulation monitoring, industry groups and associations management and executive training programs.”Strategic Advice is an established partner for companies seeking to understand and manage political scenarios and advance their objectives through multistakeholder campaigns. As an independent, non-partisan consultancy, it provides impartial analysis to inform clients and help them reach key decision-makers—at national and local levels—through customized offers tailored to their needs.“I am delighted to return to APCO, where I started my career more than 20 years ago,” Strategic Advice’s founder Gabriele Cirieco said. “Now, more than ever, in a quickly changing world, APCO’s presence in Brussels and in other international hubs is key for Italian companies. Joining forces with APCO allows us to provide clients with presence and support where critical decisions are now made.”Paolo Compostella, president of APCO’s Europe region, said, “I am delighted to welcome Gabriele and all other Strategic Advice colleagues to APCO. It is a welcome return and an injection of additional insights and expertise to a team that has been experiencing extraordinary growth for over a decade. Thanks to our new colleagues we are further deepening APCO’s roots in the Italian ecosystem and strengthening our networks in key businesses, industries and across national and regional institutions. The acquisition was a strategic investment in our core service of planning and executing multistakeholder campaigns that are truly integrated at European and global levels.”For nearly 40 years, APCO has served as a trusted advisor and partner for organizations from around the world seeking to understand, anticipate and respond to the most complex policy issues. APCO’s deep and long-standing relationships with decision-makers and advocacy groups across regions help deliver policy results and drive impact. APCO provides clients with:Insight: policy and political intelligence, legislative and regulatory tracking, stakeholder mapping, landscape analysis and issues monitoring;Strategic Counsel: advocacy and lobbying strategy, relationship building and management, message creation and thought leadership development; andEngagement/Strategic Positioning: grassroots and grasstops advocacy and top-tier media relationships.The addition of NGC and Strategic Advice continues the recent expansion of APCO’s advisory capabilities. In March, APCO made a strategic push into financial communications with the acquisition of Camarco—a London-based financial communications firm, elevating APCO’s C-suite advisory capabilities and spearheading an ambitious move to extend its counsel to stakeholders in the capital markets arena—and added deep change, transformation and employee engagement expertise with the acquisition of Gagen MacDonald—a Chicago-based human-focused transformation and consulting firm, joining two independent and pioneering woman-owned companies together to bring deeper stakeholder insights and expertise to help organizations achieve their vision for positive change and transformation.

4th SAIA is shaking up UAE’s VC landscape

Dubai: The 4th Edition Sharjah Advanced Industry Accelerator (SAIA) is creating waves in the UAE’s venture capital (VC) landscape. This is reflected in the phenomenal figure of 3,536 applications it received from over 40 countries in just two months.The highest number of applications was from India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Mexico, United Kingdom and France. Interestingly, there has been a significant increase in interest from women-led startups compared to last year. Another unique aspect is that there has been a rise in applications from sustainable tech startups.Mr. Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTIP, said: “We are thrilled by the unprecedented response to our Accelerator program from startups from different parts of the world. This is a reflection of the growing importance of the MENA region, and high ranking of the UAE when it comes to funding of startups due to progressive economic policies and supportive innovation ecosystems.“At SRTIP we are happy to play the role of providing the right environment and framework for startups to grow and scale. The SAIA program, now in its fourth year, is proud of the pivotal role it is playing in nurturing startups.”The unique Acceleration program will run from September to Nov 2023, closing with an Investor & Demo Day on Nov 27, running up to COP28 in Dubai, where some of the cohort startups will be able to showcase their innovations and leverage the many opportunities that COP presents. The final day for submitting applications is May 23.The strong response to SAIA 2023 comes at a time when the region is witnessing unprecedented flow of venture capital, promising a thriving future for startups.Total financing from venture capital funds in the Middle East surged 132 per cent to almost $2 billion last year, with the total number of deals up 5 per cent to 410, according to Magnitt.Startups in the MENA region raised $3.94 billion in 2022 across 795 deals, a rise of 24 per cent in investment value when compared to 2021. The UAE stood on top, fetching the most investments to the tune of $1.85 billion across 250 deals, a rise of 5 per cent in terms of investment value, the Magnitt report revealed.The UAE aims to become home to 20 unicorns – startups worth above $1 billion each -- by 2031, in its push to become a regional centre for innovation and entrepreneurship. Last year, the country launched the Entrepreneurial Nation initiative, which aims to offer support through a series of public-private partnerships that help entrepreneurs to set up operations in the Emirates, expand their businesses, export products and tap into online sales.Hosted by the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP), SAIA presents startups and innovative companies a gateway to funds, networking, expertise, resources, projects and a thriving ecosystem conducive to innovation.

Abu Dhabi to host Fortune Global Forum 2023, held in MENA region for first time

Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) has announced that Abu Dhabi will host the Fortune Global Forum 2023 from 27-29 November, held for the first time in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.Forging ahead with efforts to bolster the emirate’s status as a leading business, economic, and cultural hub, Abu Dhabi is attracting world-class economic events and conferences, including the 13th edition of the World Trade Organization’s Ministerial Conference, UNCTAD’s World Investment Forum, the Annual Investment Meeting, and the World Islamic Economic Forum in 2023 and 2024.The Fortune Global Forum Abu Dhabi 2023 will serve as a valuable opportunity for CEOs of the world’s biggest multinational companies, decision makers, and economists from around the globe to engage with their peers in the UAE and wider region.As geopolitical, economic, scientific, and technological developments rapidly reshape the global economy, the Fortune Global Forum, under the theme A New Era for Business, will address global agendas currently including market and trade dynamics, geopolitical tides, emerging technologies, talent in addition to workplace shifts, climate risk, and consumer trends.To keep pace with new trends on a global level and deepen economic diversification, Abu Dhabi is focusing on knowledge-based, innovation-driven economic sectors by investing in clusters with high-growth potential including AgriTech, FinTech, Healthcare and Biopharma, Energy, Tourism, and ICT.The emirate offers a vibrant, globally competitive, and entrepreneurial ecosystem to generate opportunities for all, enabling businesses and individuals to reach their full potential.Rashed Abdulkarim Al Blooshi, Undersecretary of ADDED, said: “Bringing the Fortune Global Forum to Abu Dhabi forms a critical part of our strategic economic progression roadmap, especially as we roll out our contribution to the international business development and ESG agendas alongside other global cities and enterprises, building synergies and improving life for all stakeholders. November’s discussions and analyses by the C-suites, economists, reporters and think tanks in Abu Dhabi will serve to identify mutually beneficial economic opportunities, with sustainability and the notion of stakeholder capitalism at its core.“In an era characterised by multiple forces influencing all aspects of life, it is imperative that we keep mobilising towards a viable economic and social goal, raising ambitions, and increasing the pace of implementation. Our mandate and objectives when representing Abu Dhabi and the UAE on the global centerstage, are to collaborate closely with everyone, complementing one another and improving coherence, thus creating greater and more impactful and self-sustaining economic models.”As part of preparations and agenda development leading up to Fortune Global Forum in Abu Dhabi 2023, Fortune will organise two events in key financial centres during the year.Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani, Undersecretary of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said: “Abu Dhabi’s progressive track record in hosting global business events of this calibre is testament to our proven capability, best-in-class infrastructure and year-round attractiveness of our destination. In these rapidly changing times for global business, we look forward to welcoming visionaries from government, the private sector and the media to take business dialogue to the next level while experiencing authentic Emirati hospitality in Abu Dhabi.”Alan Murray, Fortune CEO, said “Abu Dhabi’s growing role as a business, economic and cultural hub make it an ideal location for the 2023 Fortune Global Forum. The world is on the cusp of a new era of globalisation, requiring Fortune 500 companies to rethink their global footprints.“Abu Dhabi’s location, climate, culture, infrastructure and other assets make it a top contender for business operations, and I’m confident the leaders of the world’s greatest companies will welcome the opportunity to assemble here in November.”Launched in 1995, the Fortune Global Forum has established itself as a prime global platform for leaders, chairpersons, presidents, and CEOs of the world’s largest companies, including the Fortune Global 500, to discuss trends and factors shaping the global economy and explore cooperation and mutual investments.Participants in previous Fortune Global Forums have included heads of state including former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; and company chairmen and CEOs Jamie Dimon of J.P. Morgan Chase, Ginni Rometty of IBM, Robert Iger of The Walt Disney Company, Alex Gorsky of Johnson & Johnson, Ajay Banga of Mastercard Inc., Ma Yun of Alibaba, Frederick W. Smith of FedEx, Kai-Fu Lee of Sinovation Ventures, and Carlos Brito of Anheuser-Busch InBev.