Region’s most dynamic startups honored at Middle East Startup Awards

The Middle East Startup Awards (MESA) 2022-23, the regional round of the Global Startup Awards, honored some of the most dynamic startups from eight countries of the region at the end of a two-day conference and exhibition, hosted by the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK).The Middle East Startup Awards recognize the exceptional achievements of innovation and tech-driven startups and entrepreneurs from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Jordan.The Guest of Honour at the opening session was HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Kayed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Economic Development, Ras Al Khaimah.The event also hosted the Youth Innovation Challenge, in which young minds were invited to showcase their innovative projects before a distinguished panel in the presence of the chief guest, HE Mohamed Ali Musabbeh Al Nuaimi, Chairman, RAK Chamber of Commerce.The AURAK campus hosted the two-day event, uniting experts from around the globe and the region, alongside investors and industry leaders in a distinctive celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship. The event featured keynote speeches, panel discussions, and networking sessions focused on strategies for launching, expanding, and scaling startups. Additionally, the event witnessed participation from over ten universities and attracted more than 300 participants.In his keynote address, Dr. David A. Schmidt, President of AURAK, said: “It is a matter of great pride for AURAK to host the Middle East Startup Awards. AURAK has one of the most dynamic entrepreneurship centers in the region, with a thriving student incubator that provides a supportive ecosystem for aspiring entrepreneurs. These programs often leverage technology to connect startups with mentors, investors, and industry experts. Universities can facilitate technology transfer from academic research to the commercial sector. This process involves licensing intellectual property, fostering industry partnerships, and supporting the creation of spin-off companies.”Sagarika Sahoo, Co-Founder of Middle East Startup Awards, said: “The second edition of these awards achieved remarkable success, drawing in over 3,500 nominations and culminating in the selection of 135 finalists, and ultimately producing 12 deserving winners. The event was enriched by the presence of prominent industry leaders, investors, startup founders, and fellow entrepreneurs. The response testifies to the vibrancy of the region’s startups, and we are confident the event will inspire more innovators to launch their startups and thus contribute to the national economy. The support of the Ras Al Khaimah Government and AURAK in hosting this event was unparalleled.”The winners of the Middle East Startup Awards 2022-23 are: Reachware, Saudi Arabia (Startup of the Year); Zabonex, Oman (Best Newcomer of the Year); Ms. Altaf AlThekair, Circle, Kuwait (Founder of the Year); Al Zarooni Emirates Investments, UAE (Best Family Office); Pioneer Investors, Oman (VC of the Year); Astro Labs LLC, UAE (Best Co-working Space); Misk Foundation Entrepreneurship, Saudi Arabia (Best Accelerator / Incubator Program); Mr. Hamid Alibeiki, Oman (Ecosystem Hero of the Year); Ion Microsystems, Jordan (Best Green Tech Startup of the Year); Dudi Sports Technologies, UAE (Best Health Tech Startup of the Year); Paybybit Payment Services Provider Co. LLC, UAE (Best Web 3.0 and AI Startup of the Year); Ms. Seham Yateem, Bahrain (Diversity Role Model of the Year) and Paybybit Payment Services Provider Co. LLC, UAE (People's Choice Award).The Middle East Startup Awards is the regional segment of the Global Startup Awards under the operational management of Commerce Connect Events Exhibition & Management (CCEEM). These awards celebrate outstanding ideas from 12 regions spanning across 120 countries. Selecting winners encompasses all facets of the startup ecosystem, employing a network that includes local ambassadors, country partners, national and international jury members, and key advisors comprising prominent investors, political stakeholders, founders, and community builders.

Marjan welcomes third Hilton property on Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Marjan Island

Marjan, the master developer of freehold properties in Ras Al Khaimah, has announced an iconic new landmark backed by Hilton on Al Marjan Island, one of the Northern Emirate’s premium tourism, business and investment destinations. The project, consisting of a 5-star hotel and exclusive branded residences, will be built by M Hospitality on the upscale Al Marjan Island.This is the third Hilton property to be brought to Al Marjan Island by M Hospitality, which has delivered successful projects including the world’s largest Hampton by Hilton.The new project comprises 410 keys, encompassing 350 hotel rooms and 60 exclusive residences. It will showcase the highest 360-degree sky pool in the Northern Emirates, an executive lounge, a convention centre, and three F&B outlets, along with recreational facilities. Designed by the award-winning architectural firm JT+Partners, this Hilton-operated hotel, backed by half a million-dirham investment, is expected to elevate hospitality standards in Ras Al Khaimah.Arch. Abdulla Al Abdouli, Chief Executive Officer, Marjan, said: “The latest Hilton property will usher in a new era of luxury living on Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Marjan Island as the enduring appeal of waterfront living continues to attract local, regional and global investors to our flagship development. The new property reinforces Ras Al Khaimah’s growing stature as a leading international tourism, business and investment destination and is a testament to Al Marjan Island’s reputation as an exceptional living space for both homeowners and investors who are raising the bar in the hospitality sector. We are confident that M Hospitality’s latest Hilton-backed property will significantly elevate the lifestyles of our discerning clientele.”Mohammed Ruqait, Chairman of M Hospitality, said: “We are honoured to unveil our latest venture—a 5-star hotel and branded residences on Ras Al Khaimah’s iconic Al Marjan Island. This project reflects our commitment to redefining luxury living, offering an extraordinary hospitality experience. Teaming up with the prestigious Hilton brand signifies the third milestone in our journey, and we are excited to contribute to the cultural and economic landscape of Ras Al Khaimah.”He added: “We are designing an exceptional development that will be an example of excellence on Al Marjan Island. Together with the strategic location and our commitment to sustainability, our goal is to exceed the highest standards of hospitality in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah."Through this project, we promise to provide the best design through which we pledged to create a design that will be an example of excellence on Al Marjan Island. The meticulous design, strategic location and commitment to sustainability underscore our goal of exceeding the highest standards of hospitality in Ras Al Khaimah.”The latest hospitality project on Al Marjan Island further enhances Ras Al Khaimah’s appeal as a leading international tourism, business and investment destination. With this new development, M Hospitality aims to surpass Ras Al Khaimah’s gold standards in hospitality by offering an unparalleled upscale living experience for luxury enthusiasts and property buyers seeking exclusive experiences. Due for completion by the fourth quarter of 2026, the project will enrich Ras Al Khaimah’s cultural and economic landscape

Ras Al Khaimah shines at Global Media Congress: A beacon of innovation & culture

 Ras Al Khaimah welcomed visitors from around the world today to its immersive pavilion, which highlights the Emirate’s remarkable sustainable development journey, on the first day of the Global Media Congress (GMC) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Presidential Court.  In line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, the UAE’s northernmost Emirate showcased to national and international media stakeholders all the reasons why it is fast becoming the go-to destination in the region to live, work and explore.  Visitors to Ras Al Khaimah’s dynamic exhibition space, inspired by the colors of the natural world, were introduced to Ras Al Khaimah Government Media Office (RAKGMO) initiatives and strategic plans aimed at enhancing the Emirate’s presence on the global media scene, and to the Emirate’s sustainable development achievements, which have been put in place to ensure a bright future for current and future generations.Her Excellency Heba Fatani, Director General of RAKGMO, will participate in a keynote panel discussion tomorrow on ‘Nurturing Talent to Stimulate Creativity and Increased Opportunities in an Enhanced Media Ecosystem’ alongside other media leaders, which provides an opportunity to highlight Ras Al Khaimah’s growing contribution to the media landscape.  “Inspired by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ras Al Khaimah is attracting international recognition as a prime destination for living, working and exploring, with its exceptional quality of life, enticing opportunities for business and tourism, and a captivating natural environment at the heart of the narrative,” Ms. Fatani said. “It is our foremost objective to share the Emirate's inspiring stories with the world.”“RAKGMO continues to embrace innovation, creativity and cultural exchange, while celebrating the transformative power of the media to connect and communicate with audiences from around the world,” she continued. “We invite all attendees to visit Ras Al Khaimah’s pavilion, experience the beauty of Ras Al Khaimah, engage with our media experts and discover the exciting opportunities for collaboration and growth that our Emirate offers.”  Ras Al Khaimah Radio Authority Director-General and journalist Mohammed Ghanem Mustafa, hosted ‘The Live Broadcast’ from the pavilion, featuring leading figures from the media sector. It is the first radio show in the UAE to broadcast live across all three days of Global Media Congress.  This year’s Congress focuses on the themes of Sustainability; Innovation and Latest Technologies in Media; Sports Media; Youth, Education and the Future of Media. It offers a prominent platform for media professionals, journalists and industry leaders to connect and collaborate, and serves as a hub for meaningful discussion and networking opportunities that will positively impact and shape the future of the global media landscape.

New data reveals the approach of evolving UAE traveller

Dubai: Travel in 2024 is set for a year of evolution, with new research showing how UAE residents are reshaping the definition of the ‘modern traveller’.The research comes as Hilton releases its 2024 Trends Report – a global study that explores traveller behaviours across key markets including the UAE – reveals that the evolution of the UAE traveller is manifested in shifting preferences, including a greater desire for individual experiences, an increased pursuit of spontaneity, and a renewed focus on health and wellness. SOLO TRAVEL: THE RISE OF PERSONAL EXPLORATIONSolo travel emerged as a popular trend in the UAE study, with 75 percent of respondents having embarked on a solo trip within the past year, and 61 percent considering taking one within the next three years. Of those who have taken, or will take, a solo trip, a staggering 61 percent of respondents cited the desire to relax alone as their primary motivation. This was closely followed by seeking self-discovery (40 percent) and an eagerness to focus on individual wellbeing and enjoyment (38 percent).This is backed by data from as searches for solo travel on have increased in UAE by 10 percent compared to last year (2022), with top destinations searched by solo UAE travellers being Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi, London & Istanbul. The most used search filters on for solo travel are free breakfast, executive lounges and to be near a beach.Interestingly, the preference of solo travellers to disconnect and escape from the routines of daily life is met with a significant desire to stay connected and active online. Over half of all UAE-based respondents – 54 percent – still want to post on social media at least once a day while travelling, with strong Wi-Fi out-ranking room service and balcony access as the number one most important in-room amenity (64 percent). The data also points to the rising popularity of a working holiday, with many travellers booking trips that support a blend of business and pleasure. On average, guest data use in Hilton hotels has increased by 23 percent since 2022 across the EMEA market.THE SEARCH FOR NOVELTY AND SPONTANEITYHilton’s new report served to characterise next-gen travellers as people seeking newness and excitement. A whopping 85 percent look forward to visiting a place they’ve never been before when booking a holiday, underscoring the wide-spread curiosity and wonder of UAE residents. And nearly one third (28 percent) of respondents prioritise a bucket list or once-in-a-lifetime holiday when choosing their travel destinations, underscoring the importance of creating unique and memorable experiences that align with travellers’ personal aspirations.Over half of all travellers also revealed a desire for spontaneity, with 55 percent choosing to plan their holiday a month – or less – in advance. This adventure-driven approach suggests a growing trend towards more spontaneous holiday plans, perhaps fuelled by the need for greater flexibility and freedom.The influence of social media and popular culture is also significant in shaping travellers’ vision of holidaymaking. A staggering 79 percent of UAE respondents admitted to booking their vacations based on trends from social platforms or TV shows, books, etc., drawing a connection between the impact of influencers and digital marketing and the observable efforts to achieve new and exciting travel experiences.HEALTH, WELLNESS, & SUSTAINABILITYHolistic wellbeing and a commitment to sustainability continue to take centre stage for the next-gen UAE traveller, driven by a collective global awareness of personal and environmental health factors. Nearly all respondents (93 percent) rank environmental credentials – like TripAdvisor Green Leaders and GreenKey Global – as ‘somewhat or very important’ when booking a holiday, highlighting the increasingly eco-conscious approach to travel planning.Dining also plays a key role in travellers’ experiences, with 42 percent ordering room service every day or night while on holiday and 38 percent ordering room service ‘often’. While these numbers indicate a preference for convenience, they’re paired with increased recognition and responsibility. Almost half of all UAE respondents (48 percent) consider food waste ‘always’ or ‘often’ while travelling, with the majority (31 percent) prioritising healthy options when choosing a place to eat and 41 percent preferring to eat locally sourced ingredients. Following the success of Hilton’s pioneering ‘Green Ramadan’ initiative in the UAE, it’s especially empowering to note the increased awareness around how travellers choose to dine.Commenting on the report, Aligi Gardenghi, Vice President, Operations, Arabian Peninsula, Hilton said: “We’ve seen the travel industry’s dynamic comeback over the last few years, and it’s clear that traveller perceptions are continuing to evolve around the world. As a leading global hospitality brand, Hilton is dedicated to understanding and attending to the changing preferences of our patrons, and the insights presented in the latest trend report serve to inform our approach to customer excellence and guest satisfaction.“As next-gen travellers from the UAE seek to prioritise solo travel, working holidays, original destinations, and environmental responsibility, we remain committed to delivering pioneering hotel experiences that push the boundaries of modern hospitality and lay the foundations for the future of a discerning and perceptive traveller population,” he added.

Rixos Bab Al Bahr welcomes new Sales Director: Ms. Dilara Atay

Rixos Bab Al Bahr, the distinguished family beach resort on Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah, is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Dilara Atay as their new Sales Director. With an impressive career spanning over 13 years in hospitality across the UAE and Azerbaijan, Ms. Atay brings to the Rixos Bab Al Bahr team a reservoir of expertise, strategic wisdom, and dynamic leadership talents.As Sales Director at Rixos Bab Al Bahr, Ms Atay will be at the helm of the resort's sales endeavours. Her mandate extends to the planning and execution of innovative business strategies, with the overarching goal of driving growth, amplifying revenue streams and securing new markets.Her immediate priorities encompass a comprehensive analysis of market segments to formulate and implement sales strategies that will maximise revenues and lead to a broader customer base and heightened engagement. With an unwavering focus on attracting new business, she aims to position Rixos Bab Al Bahr as the standout property in a highly competitive hospitality realm. Ms. Atay's strategic prowess will further be leveraged to ensure the hotel's consistent performance above budgeted goals.Ahmed Elnawawy, General Manager at Rixos Bab Al Bahr, commented, "We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Dilara Atay as our newly appointed Sales Director. Her exceptional track record in the hospitality industry renders her an invaluable asset to Rixos Bab Al Bahr. Ms. Atay's unique amalgamation of skills and experience will undoubtedly elevate the resort's standing in the market."Before her role as Sales Director, Ms Atay demonstrated exemplary leadership as the Complex Director of Sales for Le Meridien Hotel Dubai at Marriott International, steering numerous successful initiatives. Her dynamic career journey also includes her Cluster Director of Sales role at ABSHERON Hotel Group, where her proactive management strategies consistently maintained high customer satisfaction ratings.This appointment marks a significant leap for Rixos Bab Al Bahr, leveraging Ms. Atay's well-established industry prowess, unwavering dedication to excellence, and visionary perspective for the resort's future. Ms. Atay's journey through various sales and marketing roles, spanning the UAE and beyond, echoes a vibrant profile consistently yielding customer-centric outcomes. Given the remarkable boom in Ras Al Khaimah's tourism sector in recent years, her appointment is timely and strategic.With her expansive involvement in the hospitality domain, and successful international ventures, Ms Atay stands as a virtuous spearhead at Rixos Bab Al Bahr.

Inter Emirates Motors and MG Motor UAE sales ends 2022 with 100% growth

MG Motor through its local distributor Inter Emirates Motors (IEM), a subsidiary of Ali & Sons Holding LLC, continues to rise up the rankings in the UAE’s top ten car manufacturers as the brand secured 8th position with an unprecedented sales performance in 2022. The year concluded with MG recording a market share of 3 percent. The company’s achievements are particularly impressive considering the competition it faces from established automotive brands as well as rising Chinese brands in the UAE market.The remarkable milestone for MG Motor could not have been achieved without the exceptional support from Inter Emirates Motors and the aggressive expansion strategies the brand has implemented to improve its offerings. As a result, the brand now has a total of five showrooms in the country, currently open, with a new showroom in Fujairah scheduled to open during the first quarter of 2023.IEM has always focused on ensuring the highest standard of customer satisfaction, which is why they have three service centers in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah with a fourth that is scheduled to be launched during the second quarter of 2023 in Al Quoz in Dubai.Mohamed Al Daheri, Managing Director of the Motors Division in Ali & Sons Holding LLC, said: “Over the past year, our goal was to re-introduce the MG brand to people that reside in the UAE and we have surpassed all expectations we had for ourselves. We certainly had a wonderful 2022 but we know that the best is yet to come. For 2023, we will continue to focus on our customers by providing them with exceptional value at every touch point. We plan to continue to open showrooms and service centres across the UAE as part of our national commitment to customers in the UAE.”Hisham El Sahn, General Manager of Inter Emirates Motors, said: “We believe in putting the customer first and ensuring that the quality of products and services offered by IEM & MG are both considerably high and of great value-for-money. We believe that it is this commitment to our customers that has enabled us to become a top-of-mind brand for customers when they are choosing to invest in their next automobile and look forward to continue to achieve consistent growth now and in the future.”Regionally, MG continues with its double-digit growth ever since it kicked off its operations in the Middle East, as such increasing the brand’s sales by 40%. Now, the brand is one of the top 6 Automotive brands in the region and MG continues to lead with significant increases in market shares across the GCC. With MG5 and MGZS being the best performing models across the year, customers have deservingly shown their appreciation of the British-born brand’s products.Tom Lee, Managing Director of MG Motor’s Middle East operations, commented: “MG has recorded another year of extraordinary growth in the region despite the ambitious goals we have set for ourselves and the slew of new competitors. The growing awareness, popularity and desire for the MG brand has been really evident as we have maximised accessibility to the brand for customers across our nine markets, and as we look to introduce two new markets in Q1 of this year.”In response to the growing popularity of MG and the increasing demand for its vehicles in the UAE, IEM and SAIC Motor Middle East have decided to expand the MG fleet and introduce four new models to the market in 2023. This demonstrates the commitment of having MG stay ahead of the competition whilst providing its customers with the best value possible. Additionally, the growing number of satisfied MG and IEM customers in the UAE are becoming vocal advocates for the brand, further boosting reputation and popularity of both the automaker and its local distributor in the region.MG will continue to enhance its services as it tends to its customer’s needs, while its 6 years / 200,000 km warranty on all models, combined with exceptional offers available to new and current customers, will ensure peace of mind in difficult times.

Rixos Bab Al Bahr announces appointment of new GM

Rixos Bab Al Bahr, Ras Al Khaimah has announced the appointment of Ahmed Elnawawy as General Manager, making the award-winning, family-friendly, luxury hotel the newest venture in his 22-year-long career with top hospitality brand names.In this role he will bring his unique expertise, strategic market insight, and strong leadership skills to Rixos Bab Al Bahr and shall report directly to Cenk Unverdi, Regional Managing Director at Rixos Hotels Gulf. Elnawawy will be responsible for leading, shaping, and executing the hotel’s overall strategy and business operations.A seasoned luxury hospitality professional with a strong background in operations, guest satisfaction, and revenue generation. Elnawawy is passionate about delivering creative strategies to drive high levels of operational performance.Commenting on Elnawawy’s appointment, Cenk Unverdi said: “Rixos Bab Al Bahr is a unique property that is well positioned to capitalise on Ras Al Khaimah's growing appeal as the fastest growing holiday destination, and it'll need visionary leadership to ensure it remains competitive. I'm confident that Elnawawy has the necessary experience to successfully meet this challenge”    Ahmed Elnawawy added: “I am excited to join an already well-established, luxury resort. I intend to create an atmosphere where team members feel empowered and can add value to the Rixos brand that stands out as a top family, resort destination around the world. I would like to thank the team for a warm welcome and I can’t wait to get started.”Elnawawy joins Rixos Bab Al Bahr from Emaar group where his most recent role was Head of Emaar Customer Excellence. Elnawawy also held several leadership roles within the Emaar Group between 2016 and 2022. He joined them in the role of Director of Rooms at the Address Dubai Mall, followed by General Manager at Manzil Downtown, General Manager at the Address Fountain Views, and General Manager at the Palace Downtown. In addition, Elnawawy is no stranger to Rixos. Between 2013 and 2015, he held the role of Rooms Division Manager at Rixos The Palm Dubai.