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July 3rd, 2016


Empowering the fight against piracy and counterfeits AVIVO GROUP



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Pioneer provides Paramount protection in Cybersecurity PAGE 15

Publisher, Editor-in-chief: Kalle Salmi CEO, Content Group International: Johan Ehrström Director: Lauri Stevens Project Managers: Billy Buckley, Danielle Francisco


ABB AUTOMATION & POWER APPEAL ABB empowers the digital connectivity drive


AL SHAALI & CO Effectively combatting intellectual property infringement through reform and collaboration


AL SHAALI & CO Empowering the fight against piracy and counterfeits

10 AVIVO GROUP AVIVO Group in shipshape form, eyes expansion 12 GBM GBM Shaping the future of the GCC’s IT industry 14 GOLDEN HORIZON MEDIA An unconventional approach to success

Art Director: Petra Pirinen

16 FASTSIGNS Signs of the times

Journalists: Malcolm Diaz

17 PARAMOUNT COMPUTER SYSTEMS Pioneer provides Paramount protection in Cybersecurity

Photographers: Max Porik, Ali Arbess Concept owner: Content Group International, HDS Business Center, Cluster M, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

18 RPS RPS fills up with high-octane fuel management solutions 19 TAGSTONE TagStone: The touchstone in wireless solutions 20 AMLAK FINANCE Amlak: A premier property financier in the Middle East 21 DRAW LINK GROUP The art of bringing it all together

Published by Content Worldwide DMCC. Printed and distributed by Al Nisr Publishing LLC.




top-ranking, extensively-travelled and frenetically busy ABB Group official who oversees the conglomerate’s international operations, the amiable Jari Kaija is a personification of serenity and tranquility. Seated in his imposing office in Al Raha overlooking the languid waters of the picturesque turquoise-hued lagoon in Abu Dhabi, the iconic Aldar Properties Headquarters ‘Round Building’, the Middle East’s only circular building, Kaija gets energetic and animated as he fields questions on ABB’s IoTSP leadership, initiatives and how customer service solutions are making a difference in performance, competence and return on investment for clients. “The Internet of Things – and from the ABB Group perspective – the connectivity of all things industrial and digital; services and people, the IoTSP, is now well and truly upon us and is the new vision and shape of things to come,” avers Kaija, a Finn and a long-time company veteran, as he waxes eloquent on the promise of new technologies to come that will irrevocably change the manner in which businesses will be conducted. “We are en-route to fully demonstrating the promise of the fourth industrial revolution or the Industrial 4.0 World as we undertake bold, inventive and ingenious proposals globally to enable and empower smart manufacturing through seamless digital communications and the now increasingly omnipresent Internet of Things,” he reiterates as he sets the tone of the company’s forays in the digital realm.


ABB FORERUNNER The precursor to the ABB Group present in roughly 100 countries and employing 135,000 personnel can be traced over 125 years and Kaija is keen to emphasise what he characterises as the company’s ‘automation and digital heritage’ credentials. “IoT is not new to the ABB Group – we are pioneers in this arena and have a long history of strong proactive technological precedents and advances which we have been successfully accomplishing for decades. It is very much an integral part of our corporate DNA and credo,” he stresses.

“THE INTERNET OF THINGS – AND FROM THE ABB GROUP PERSPECTIVE – THE CONNECTIVITY OF ALL THINGS INDUSTRIAL AND DIGITAL; SERVICES AND PEOPLE, THE IoTSP, IS NOW WELL AND TRULY UPON US AND IS THE NEW VISION AND SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME.” ABB is in the forefront in the race as leading global manufacturers and industrial operators integrate Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) to lay the foundations for technological transformation to create the much touted

‘Connected Enterprise’. Whilst many challenges abound and no cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all solutions prevail, the convergence of IT and OT will navigate new technologies between industrial assets and the rest of the enterprise value-chain to bring processes to new benchmarks and thresholds to create rapid value and competitive positions, productivity opportunities, more secure networks, better analytics, diagnostics, processes; efficient data management across enterprises and as a result, increased output whilst also paying heed to environmental and ecological considerations.

KAIJA AT THE HELM —DRIVING GROWTH Kaija takes his professional mandate seriously. To this end, he has his work cut out for him. The holder of a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Helsinki Institute of Technology and an Executive MBA from the Helsinki School of Economics, Kaija’s career with the ABB Group spans almost two decades and straddles several countries and continents and is eminently qualified to lead the swiftly-evolving company in a new phase of technological breakthroughs. In Kaija’s estimation, it is evident that the company is now primed for preserving its leadership position in assets and equipment connectivity to ensure that machines talk impeccably with each other to build a sophisticated automation platform in the wider scheme and ecosystem of improved


and super-efficient processes emanating from machine and artificial intelligence. Since 2011, Kaija has spearheaded ABB’s Service Business where he has been instrumental in developing new business models and service offerings which enhance the company’s customers operations, improving safety, sustainability, reliability, productivity and energy efficiency. Together with colleagues from the Research and Development cell, Kaija and his core motivated team of experienced and accomplished technology professionals have also been driving the next level of customer benefits through ABB’s indigenous Internet of Things, Services and People (IoTSP) concept.

ABB – TOP OEM ABB as one of the largest OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) in the utilities sector covers the entire gamut of operations including electrical, control and instrumentation and also design, engineering, installation and commissioning. The company is also playing an increasingly bigger role in its traditional functional areas that include automation, robotics, transportation and process technology. “We are now increasingly offering cloud-based services derived from our proprietary technologies for our mission-critical businesses and producing new proficiencies and competencies as a result of relentless digitalisation, research and development across several industrial parameters,” elaborates Kaija. Kaija is clearly in the driving seat propelling ABB forays in new industry verticals and charting its course in hitherto uncharted territories. His pivotal role in shaping the future of the company and the direction it will pursue is reflected in the fact that he was hand-picked as the keynote speaker for the impending ‘Internet of Things 2016’ Event to be staged at the prestigious Armani Hotel in Dubai’s Downtown in May. When pressed to reveal what would be the crux of his address to the distinguished gathering and peers, he indicates that he will essentially convey the primacy of ABB’s IoTSP drive and directives and its positive ramifications for the generic industry and the necessity for all stakeholders, associates and constituents to come on board for mutual benefit. The Middle East is a very critical for ABB

Jari Kaija, Group Senior Vice President, Head of Global Customer Services of ABB Group.

and there is significant potential for both short and long-term growth affirms Kaija. The company’s growth trajectory has been good in the past and the company’s association with the region goes back a long way since it established an office in the Egyptian capital Cairo in 1926 to supervise its Middle East operations. Africa operations are also overseen from the UAE offices. It is documented that ABB delivered gas turbines to ARAMCO in 1951. In Kaija’s assessment, India is also a key area of interest for ABB and the company maintains huge operations in the country with multiple offices and target of 10,000 employees. The Indian subsidiary is listed on the National Stock Exchange of India and on the Bombay Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of over US $ 4 billion. On a recent three-day visit to India (in early April 2016) ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi to talk about energy efficiency, micro-grids and e-mobility underscores the close partnership with the Asian economic giant.

YUMI—USHERING IN THE ROBOT REVOLUTION No talk of ABB can be complete without the mention of its completely in-house developed YuMi – described as the world’s first truly collaborative robot first unveiled at the Hannover (Germany) Fair in April 2015. The same will be a star attraction and eagerly looked forward to when it will be introduced to attendees at the upcoming ‘Internet of Things 2016’ Event. YuMi (for You and Me) whose design is based on a revolutionary integration of motion control software is lightweight, padded, with magnesium, multifunctional arms enabling multi-tasking. “YuMi will be a fantastic draw, a great talking point at the Event and one that is guaranteed to steal hearts away. It is friendly, compatible with humans, easy to program, malleable and pliant,” quips an enthused Kaija. Interestingly yet ironically, with good qualities of head and heart, YuMi will add a touch of humanism to an animated world full of machines, machinations and musings.




Myriem Kadmiri & Lara Turquieh, IP Legal Consultants at Al Shaali & Co.

PROTECTION OF intellectual property in the UAE is an ongoing battle which requires a pragmatic approach and sustained effort. Both, Myriem Kadmiri and Lara Turquieh, are respected IP Legal Consultants at Al Shaali & Co. and have been instrumental in the prevention of the sale of counterfeit goods within the region. The collective efforts of private law firms and government departments are crucial in protecting the average consumer from counterfeit merchandise. Needless hyperbole this is not, as counterfeit products such as foodstuffs, auto parts, or even imitation medical pills can be exceptionally dangerous and can cause accidents due to unregulated , defective and highly-toxic content. The continual application of the UAE Intellectual Property (IP) Laws reduces the influence of these unlawful traders and boosts the power of the authorities and brand owners in thwarting the entry of illegal goods into the country. Enforcement on the ground Raid action

Al Shaali & Co. insists on always being present for raids - conducted by the Police and the Economic Development Department (EDD) - to provide legal assistance and to aid in the collection and documentation of evidence, as to ensure a greater chance of


subsequent success in prosecution. There are two avenues for recourse in these situations, either Criminal or Administrative: An Administrative complaint requires the inspectors and lawyers to stake out locations and once the EDD inspectors gain access to an open premise, it is completely within their right to enter, search and seize any suspected counterfeit and infringing branded products that infringe the IP Rights of brand owners. EDD inspectors have Judicial Inspection Powers that allow them to enter any trading outlet, company premises, warehouse or other commercial or business that is open during the time of the raid. If the premises is closed, then the EDD will use the help of the Police or go directly to the on duty Public Prosecutor and ask for a warrant to open any closed commercial, business or residential premises that is being used to offer or store counterfeit and infringing products. In cases of residential premises or warehouses, the Public Prosecutor prefers the Police presence with the EDD inspectors during the raid to protect residents and also to protect the EDD inspectors from being attacked, which although rare does occasionally happen and both ladies have experienced firsthand while carrying out raids with the Dubai Police CID Economic Crimes raids. If the Brand Owners or Law Firm prefer

to use the criminal route, then procedure is similar to the administrative route, yet, a warrant to enter the premises is a prerequisite. The Police can obtain a warrant from the on duty Public Prosecutor within under one hour. Both Ms. Turquieh and Ms. Kadmiri have experience in accompanying the police on raids, either in the capacity of lawyers or in their capacity as experts - determining if goods are counterfeit. Identification of forgeries is key and both women are highly trained by brand owners to the extent that they both now train the Police, EDD inspectors, Customs front line inspectors, CID Lab Technicians, Municipality Inspectors and on the odd occasion members of the Public Prosecution Departments, and member of the Judiciary, on how to identify imitation products, resulting in a stronger case and a higher conviction rate.

Criminal Laboratory Analysis The Police Criminal Laboratories in the UAE play a significant role in getting convictions in criminal cases. The Dubai Police Criminal Investigations Department Forensics Laboratory who mainly focus on identifying counterfeit money, passports, official documents etc. is the main body used by the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Courts not only in Dubai, but in Ajman, UAQ and RAK Courts, in identifying whether or not the seized products are indeed counterfeit or not. This is done by comparing the samples of genuine products that are produced by the Brand Owners with that of samples seized during Police raid actions. Generally the Police Laboratories are on the side of the brand owners although they are neutral in nature, however when they identify counterfeit products or an infringement that would confuse a normal consumer into thinking that he is buying genuine brands, then they submit to the Public Prosecutions and Courts detailed reports that detail the difference between both and are vital to the Public Prosecution in deciding whether or not to charge a trader with possession of counterfeit or infringing products and are vital in the Judge deciding whether the trader is guilty or not.

AL SHAALI & CO The problems arise when the Lab insists on there being a sample of genuine identical in all aspects to the counterfeit sample seized during the Police raid. The problems that Lara is facing with the Labs, is that when the counterfeiter produces a product that is an infringement of more than one brand, then it is impossible for the brands to provide an identical genuine sample to the Lab. This is frustrating, but the Courts have recently and so has the Labs eased these conditions on the Law Firms and Brand Owners and a letter from the brand owner to the Lab that they do not produce these type of products and therefore cannot provide the Lab with a genuine sample and a letter from the Lab to the Court stating that the report cannot be furnished because of a lack of a sample seems to be accepted by the Courts and cannot be easily contested by infringing trader.

to 1,000,000 AED – but the greatest financial penalty is the loss of the imitation items themselves which can be worth immense sums - often in the millions. In addition, a trader found guilty of a third offense on the same trade license, will result in the license being swiftly revoked and deportation will follow. In a criminal case, the trader’s passport will be confiscated for the duration of the trial, which can be up to two years, along with their goods being removed and destroyed. There are examples where judges have imposed harsher sentences if the products are considered to be hazardous to the public - in the case of bogus medical supplies fines may run up to 150,000 AED coupled with a prison sentences in excess of 7 years and, finally, resulting in deportation.

After the storm

If products are found to be in violation of IP law there are stringent protocols in the UAE regarding disposal, as this has to be done in the appropriate manner due to potentially hazardous waste materials. Depending on which Emirate the goods are seized in, different regulations are implemented. The price for destruction can vary greatly and the burden of expense falls squarely on the shoulders of the brand owner. This is an issue that does need to be addressed as the price for disposal can be cumbersome to brand owners who feel it unjust that the obligation falls to them instead of the counterfeiters themselves. In the Emirate of Dubai, it can cost up to 5000 AED per ton

Penalties Post-seizure process differs depending on the nature of the case – criminal or administrative. The UAE has strict regulations on how the merchandise and traders are handled; among the countries in the Gulf region the UAE is quick to act and rulings can be accomplished in less than a year. For a trader of counterfeit goods in an administrative case, a fine may be applicable with the total amount proportional to the volume of goods confiscated. Penalties might average at the EDD ranging between 50,000 AED

PROFILES: Lara Turquieh Upon completion of her Diplôme D’Etudes Approfondies (equivalent to an LLM) in International Commercial Law, Legal Consul-

Up in smoke

Which way is the wind blowing? Reforms are on the horizon. Currently, law firms around the UAE are lobbying the government to make productive alterations. The proposed draft law will shift the legal obligation of disposal onto the traders - as opposed to the brand owners – and, if this provision does come into effect, it will act as an even greater deterrent to those in the forgery trade. Penalties traders could face include fines, imprisonment, deportation and the added expense of having to foot massive disposal fees. Seeing that disposal charges are relatively high and stock volumes can be huge, both Legal Consultants Turquieh and Kadmiri are united in their agreement that this an essential step to efficiently counter future illegitimate business in the region. Therefore, while the UAE has strongly established itself as the recognized forerunner in the Middle East when it comes to IP law enforcement, the continual analysis and resulting evolution of the law is vital. This considered development of the existing IP statutes and regulations will ultimately have a constructive impact on the surrounding regions and will aid governments in putting a halt to illegal trade.

tant Turquieh worked in the banking sector as an in-house lawyer. After moving to the UAE and joining Al Shaali & Co. she has become a constant presence on the IP team for the last five years. Focused on the Criminal enforcement side of IP protection, Lara works in conjunction with the Dubai Public Prosecution Office, Dubai Police CID AntiEconomics Crimes Department and Dubai Municipality Waste Disposal Department to enforce criminal prosecution of traders who deal in counterfeit products as well as ensuring their safe and appropriate disposal.

Myriem Kadmiri

Lara Turquieh.

to dispose of counterfeit perfume, whereas, in the Emirate of Al Ain it is approximately 50 AED a ton. However, the Emirate where the seizure occurs is the Emirate where it must be disposed; leading to frustration on the part of brand owners who have to bear the brunt.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Private Law from Mohammad University in Rabat, Morocco, Myriem moved to the UAE to work as an inhouse lawyer in the private sector – focusing mainly on the banking & medical industries. Five years ago she made a move to Al Shaali & Co. to follow a career in IP Enforcement

Myriem Kadmiri.

Law, concentrating largely on the Administrative enforcement side. She is a well-respected member of the team and has extensive experience in collaborating with the inspectorates of the Economic Development Departments (EDD) and Customs Cases.



Perspective: UAE Trademark & IP Laws

Empowering the fight against piracy and counterfeits WITH ITS LEGAL FRAMEWORK AND ENFORCEMENT MECHANISM IN PLACE, THE UAE IS WELL POISED AND BEST SUITED TO BECOME THE HARBINGER OF LEGISLATING AND PROTECTING TRADEMARK & INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (IP) LAWS IN THE REGION SAYS DIRECTOR OF THE IP DIVISION MALEK KHALIFEH AT AL SHAALI & CO. UAE: PREMIER ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE IN THE ME The UAE is the acknowledged business and commercial capital of the Middle East and North, East and Central Africa. All nations geographically located around this geographical hinterland consider the UAE as its sourcing station for a wide range of products including food, pharmaceuticals, electronics and household products, textiles, cosmetics, building materials, engineering goods, manufacturing equipment, IT products and accessories, auto spare parts and many other consumables. With the exponential trade growth of the UAE and its financial capital, Dubai, and continual new investments in its growing economy, also comes the inevitable cost of attracting the best and the worst of businesses. The worst of business manifests itself in counterfeit products that are mainly produced and sourced from China. 84% of all counterfeit products are produced and sourced from China, according to the US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. The problem starts with the traders who visit the UAE who soon come to the conclusion that their regional consumers outside of the GCC, with considerably less buying capacity, desire to have the same products that are marketed in this country. The fact that consumers in Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, East and Central Africa do not have the same buying power that exists in the relatively affluent UAE and GCC creates the demand for counterfeit products.

UAE PREMIUM PRICES To add to this problem we also have a very vexing situation unique to the UAE. It is triggered by unscrupulous local agents and


distributors for various commodities in the UAE for which prices are between 15–20% higher compared to the other countries of the GCC and the rest of the Middle East. We have expressed our concern and discussed this worrisome issue internally with the over 100 clients that we represent at Al Shaali to curb this problem, but were surprised to find that most of the brand owners had no qualms about it since they monetarily benefitted from this incremental price hike in the UAE. I have accompanied the brand owner’s representatives on more than 50 meetings with UAE government officials from the Police and Economic Departments, whereby the representatives have raised the issue of Parallel Import based on pressure from their local UAE distributors. The answer from the UAE officials who are themselves among the highest paid government offices in the world, is that they prefer to go to Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to buy cars, expensive electronics and luxury items, because they can get them for between 15–20% lower than in the UAE. This hike in prices increases parallel import and indirectly affects and increases the demand on counterfeit products because the prices between genuine and counterfeit products is additionally hike by 15–20%. It follows then that the UAE is also the counterfeiting capital of the entire region. However the UAE is the best country in the entire Third World to combat counterfeit products. This is due to the existence of strong IP (Intellectual Property) laws that authorize and empower the Police, Economic Departments, Municipalities, Ministry of Commerce, Customs and other enforcement and regulatory authorities to seize and confiscate counterfeit products whether it is being imported into, distributed in or even on the rare occasion manufactured in the UAE.

COUNTER PIRACY MEASURES The Economic Departments in Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Ajman are spearheading the fight against counterfeit products in the UAE, followed by the Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ajman Police Departments who have a Zero Tolerance Policy for counterfeit and infringing products. The Public Prosecution Departments in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Abu Dhabi have played a significant role in empowering the Police in their respective Emirates to obtain warrants to seize counterfeit products even if they are located in the Free Zones, including Jebel Ali where the Al Shaali law firm has on a number of occasions seized containers and raided warehouses containing tens of thousands of counterfeit products. There have been instances with the Dubai and Sharjah Economic Development Departments when over a million pieces of counterfeit products have been seized and destroyed in a single raid. We have encountered some problems in the UAE with regard to destruction of counterfeit products that are deemed hazardous to the environment and this has resulted in hefty prices levied by the environmental waste disposal companies that have contracts with the Municipalities in the Dubai and Sharjah. After all, these waste disposal companies are required to comply and conform to the UAE Environmental Laws which are considered among the best and most advanced in the World.

UAE IN THE FRONTLINES OF ENFORCEMENT The UAE has to be lauded for its role in the fight against counterfeit products. In these instances the Federal Government is represented by the UAE Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Interior and the individual


PROFILE: Malek Khalifeh Director of the IP Division, Al Shaali & Co Legal Consultant Khalifeh commenced his career in Regional IP Law 16 years ago as a senior lawyer in the legal consultancy firm Rouse & Co, a leading global IP consultancy where he worked for four years. He subsequently joined Japan Tobacco International the third largest tobacco company and served for five years as a Vice President in the Legal and Corporate Security Departments where he met Salem Al Shaali the Managing Partner of Al Shaali & Co Advocates & Legal Consultants Law Firm. Salem Al Shaali encouraged Legal Consultant Khalifeh to create a brand new IP Division within Al Shaali & Co in March 2005. Beginning with only two members, the IP Division has to date, a total of 46 members (Regionally in 5 offices) comprising lawyers and market researchers and presently represents more than 116 International Brand Owners.

Malek Khalifeh.

Emirates are represented by their respective Economic Development Departments and their Local Police Departments, which are both Federal and Local in nature. This Zero Tolerance policy of the Government towards spurious goods and its strict enforcement is a big comfort and assurance to brand owners who lose millions of dollars in revenues in addition to loss of reputation and legal liability in some instances. There are two main problems with the current set-up of IP and Criminal Laws that deal with IP related felonies in the UAE. Firstly, the penalties that are imposed on the traders which in most cases are between a paltry AED 5,000 and AED 10,000 are antiquated and outdated, because these laws were passed way back in the 1980s. The second problem with IP Laws is that there is no clear distinction between a small retail outlet sell-

ing a few pieces, the importer of a container of counterfeit products or a full scale factory who import or manufacture tens of thousands of counterfeit products.

LEGISLATIVE LIMBO The law has left the issue of determining the appropriate punishment following conviction of violations to the presiding judge. The problem is that the judge does not have a lot of latitude because he can only levy a fine of between AED 5000 and AED 10,000 at the very maximum in the present context. There is a new Trademark draft law in the UAE currently being discussed and debated in the UAE parliament that addresses these two issues. It proposes to raise the minimum and maximum fines to ten times

of the present level and also jail sentences even for first-time violators and longer terms for repeat infringers at the discretion of the judge. The passage of very advanced laws in the UAE during the past 5 years is a bulwark in the fight against piracy and IP breaches in the UAE since the country zealously safeguards its commercial and financial interests. It is also pertinent to point out that since all international companies have their regional headquarters in the UAE, the newly approved trademarks laws will be on par if not better than most of the IP related laws in the region and internationally. The new proposed UAE trademarks law will make provision for hefty fines reportedly between US $ 13,000 and US $ 130,000 which should serve as a deterrent and send out a strong message to transgressors of the country’s trademark and IP statutes.




brighten or enliven. Enter the AVIVO Group, established by AM Partners, a Dubai-based leading private equity firm as its healthcare initiative in 2011. Since its inception, the agile and youthful AVIVO Group has incubated extraordinarily well, growing from strength-to-strength in a relatively short span of five years to become a mature, premier provider of a range of specialized, premium healthcare and medical services across the UAE and Kuwait. Currently, the AVIVO Group, the second largest primary care chain in the region, has 32 sophisticated medical facilities comprising its eponymous hospitals and clinics, pharmacies and diagnostics in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Kuwait. Its current workforce includes 1,200+ administrative employees, medics, paramedics, and importantly over 200 key, highly and professionally trained, experienced doctors and medical practitioners across its constantly growing network now serving more than 1.3 million patients annually. The first phase of the Group’s vigorous expansion, which mainly focused on building the primary care network across the region, demonstrates a healthy report card for one of the largest integrated healthcare companies in the region. Amitava Ghosal, the CEO and Member of the Board, AVIVO Group, and also one of its founding members, in an exclusive interview, attributes the rapid growth of the company to the joint efforts of the team. “One of our biggest accomplishments is building a


team of diverse, creative and entrepreneurial group of dedicated, determined professionals committed to making the brand a strong player in the regional healthcare services industry,” affirms Ghosal.

FORMIDABLE FINANCIALS The AVIVO Group received a big fillip in October 2015 when it was revealed that AM Partners would invest a staggering AED 1.1 billion (USD $ 300 million) in the run-up to an IPO on the London Stock Exchange by the group towards the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017. Ghosal is upbeat about the infusion of private capital in healthcare sector of the region. “Particularly in vital sectors like healthcare, private equity is perceived as smart capital identifying opportunities for social betterment and having impact on the economy through creation of jobs. We have formulated the company based on a buy-andbuild strategy that sought to capture and create efficiencies in healthcare delivery throughout the investment cycle. The teams at AVIVO and AM Partners work closely in the execution of the strategy and business plan,” he asserts. AVIVO presently offers more than 23 specialties across facilities that cover several segments like general medicine, high-end internal medicine including diabetes management, In-Vitro fertilization (IVF), high-end dentistry, advanced services in orthopedics and urology, aesthetics, cosmetology, gastroenterology and physiotherapy in addition to a range of laboratory and diagnostic ser-

vices. AVIVO also has a homecare recuperative facility that is currently meeting the needs of many local families for their new born as well as elderly family members.

GROWTH GAMBIT The AVIVO Group is in expansion mode and will be present in five of the six GCC countries, with immediate plans of expansion in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar by this year-end and increase the number of facilities to around 50 from the current 32. In terms of market positioning, it is one of the leading IVF players in the field; has the largest dental center in Kuwait and one of the top three dental centers in the UAE. It is also very strong in orthopedics and urology, offering very high-end service through its German Medical Centre based in Dubai Healthcare City. According to Ghosal implementation of Phase Two of the corporate strategy will entail diversification into hospitals and leverage the strength of the primary network. Ghosal also foresees AVIVO forays in other regions like North Africa and South East Asia in the near future. Organic growth is a key focus area for the operational team at AVIVO. Ghosal states that significant organic growth has been attained across the Group’s existing facilities, most notably in its high-end clinics. “We are strengthening the current departments by adding more doctors, specialties and services in many of our clinics, focusing on good patient services which is aiding in achieving the organic growth,” he observes. The Group has also refurbished and rebranded its existing facilities as part of an overall strategy to position AVIVO Group as one of the leading healthcare services providers in the UAE and the region. The unified AVIVO brand will ensure consistency in operating procedures, best practices and corporate values across all operations in current and future markets, assures Ghosal. “We also intend to grow our existing facilities


such as Conceive IVF Centre, Dr. Michael’s Dental Centre and German Medical Centre in other regional geographies. We are setting up two new dental centres in UAE, one new dental clinic each in Kuwait and Qatar, and an IVF Centre in Muscat as part of our brownfield expansion plans,” he adds.

ECLECTIC DEMOGRAPHIC MIX The UAE market is undoubtedly competitive notes Ghosal. The Group has a diverse range of facilities across different locations and offers services to all demographic segments in the region. Ghosal emphasizes that AVIVO’s standout USP is the range of offerings in most of its centres where medical professionals are able to address many of the health issues that patients face here in the country. “We always focus on ways to improve the patient experience and our commitment to quality of services at affordable prices at all levels remains one of the value drivers for the company,” he stresses. Mandatory insurance scheme is being rolled out by the Dubai government in phases and after the final phase of implementation, which is expected in June 2016, it will generally lead to a higher demand for healthcare services opines Ghosal. “For AVIVO, I am very optimistic as patients will look for better quality and services and increasingly gravitate towards value service providers like us,” he explains. Ghosal firmly points out that doctors and medical practitioners at the AVIVO Group are not under any pressure to meet financial targets. “There are no obligatory targets. Our doctors are expected to deliver the best healthcare opinion for any patient that they see. We have very strict codes of conduct, and we strongly believe that long term competitive edge is best retained through following the highest ethical practices,” he indicates.

COMMITMENT TO CSR Ghosal reiterates that the AVIVO Group is committed to being a responsible company and making a positive contribution to society and the environment. “This helps us inspire trust in our brand, develop strong relationships with our stakeholders and create longterm value for society and our business,” he adds.

Amitava Ghosal, CEO and Member of the Board of AVIVO Group.

Corporate Social Responsibility is an important tenet at the AVIVO Group and the company ensures that it operates as a responsible corporate citizen. “We try to create an engaging workplace for our employees; we conduct various health camps, wellness talk shows, blood donation camps at various premises to promote preventive care amongst poorer sections of our society, amongst students, women groups and others,” he concludes.



GBM Shaping the future of the GCC’s IT industry REFLECTING ON THE VOLATILITY, THE RAPID PACE OF CHANGE IN THE MIDDLE EAST, AND THE MODERN-DAY IMPERATIVE FOR BUSINESSES TO EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY, PHILIPPE JARRE, CEO, OF THE PIONEERING AND LONG-ESTABLISHED GULF BUSINESS MACHINES (GBM), TALKS TO CEO REPORT IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW IN HIS OFFICE IN DUBAI ABOUT THE COMPANY’S IT FORAYS IN THE REGION. HE HIGHLIGHTS THE EVOLVING TRENDS THAT WILL AFFECT BUSINESSES IN THE GCC WHILST ASSURING CUSTOMERS THE COMPANY IS IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL IN THE RUN-UP TO 2020 AND BEYOND. THIS YEAR GBM CELEBRATES 26 years of success in the GCC (except Saudi Arabia) and Pakistan. The company is witnessing an unprecedented evolution in the region’s technology landscape – one that is having a phenomenal impact on business and society. Philippe Jarre, the French national and 25-year IBM veteran, took over the helm at GBM as CEO in mid-2014 and remains highly optimistic that GBM’s future is bright as it continues to lead the technology evolution. GBM offers an extensive range of IT solutions across the region in addition to consulting, resource deployment through to after-sales support. The company has the DNA and hallmarks of an organization that is indigenous to the country it is set up in and yet operates regionally as a corporate entity. Local knowledge and familiarity twinned with expertise and technological leverage gained from world-class international partnerships, capabilities, and top-drawer brand names have catapulted GBM into the frontlines of the IT industry in the region. What is your assessment of the current Middle East IT landscape?

Philippe Jarre: No industry has had a bigger effect on businesses and consumers in the Middle East over the last quarter of a century than the IT sector. Digital technology was an emerging concept 25 years ago, while today it is at the centre of people’s lives and most companies’ businesses.


The Middle East has evolved and even exceeded the progress seen across the rest of the world. One of the strongest indicators of technological progress is internet penetration, which, at 52.2% in the Middle East surpasses the global average of 46.2%.

Your partnership with IBM is well documented. Can you explain more about the strategic importance of this partnership to your business?

PJ: International partnerships are at the heart and origin of GBM’s success. We were originally established through a partnership with IBM, and GBM has continued to evolve this relationship in order to meet the ever increasing demands of the GCC’s IT market. Partnerships continue to be central to both our own and our customers’ evolution. This year GBM was named winner of an IBM Choice Award for Top Business Partner in the Middle East and Africa. IBM’s Choice Awards recognize a select number of IBM business partners around the world who have demonstrated business excellence in delivering IBM-based solutions.

Cisco has also been a key partner for you. Can you elaborate on your relationship? PJ: GBM secured the Cisco portfolio in 1999, further enhancing our ability to offer customers a wide range of tailored IT solutions. Today GBM holds the highest level of recognition in the region from Cisco; Gold Partner status, in addition to the Cisco

Borderless Network Architecture Specialized Learning Partner status. We were also named the winner of three prestigious awards at this year’s Cisco Global Partner Summit, including the Best Enterprise Partner of the Year award.

What other partnerships are supporting the growth of your business?

PJ: The most recent development is GBM’s appointment as the first Apple Authorized Systems Integrator (AASI) in the UAE. The company will now be able to incorporate Apple products to their existing information technology solution service offerings, with a view to providing large enterprises and corporate customers with integrated mobility solutions. Adding Apple to our solutions portfolio strengthens our mobility practice. In addition, GBM has strategically aligned with NetSuite, offering leading integrated web-based business management suite that encompass ERP / Financials, CRM, and ecommerce applications.

Along with these strategically important partnerships, how do you plan to continue to grow your business in light of a challenging economic climate?

PJ: In line with partnerships that will add layers of expertise and competency to our customers’ businesses, we believe that consultancy is at the heart of what customers look for in their IT partners. The region’s continued transformation and evolution will center on the consultancy and value added services that technology providers can deliver to the GCC’s public and private sector. The nature of decision-making across the region requires the complimentary dynamism and speed to market that providers like GBM can offer.

How does GBM view the IoT landscape, and what implications does this have for your clients in the region? PJ: IoT is a universal aspect of the IT landscape and this has massive implications for


Philippe Jarre, CEO of GBM.

every industry vertical including business, healthcare, and education, which will all be affected by the way we embrace digitalization. IoT is a part of every business discussion with our customers and the digital transformation is driving operational efficiency, increasing employee productivity, garnering greater customer loyalty, as well as creating new revenue streams. By focusing on leveraging the benefits of IoT in the public and private sector, we will be able to support our customers while also growing GBM’s business across the GCC.

What is GBM doing to solve and counter cyber security threats across the region?

PJ: GBM has been aware of the growing cyber security threat and has therefore invested heavily in establishing a security practice. Our intensive focus in security has led to the development of our own security

framework to ensure we offer the very best protection for our clients. To ensure we remain finely tuned to the needs of the market, we have been conducting an annual security survey for the past five years among GCC business leaders. The latest survey highlighted a need to improve corporate practice in order to defend and protect businesses in the GCC. It also revealed that nearly 50% of GCC executives lack confidence in their organizations having the right tools to predict and prevent cyber-attacks, while 40% of organizations admitted that they do not have a dedicated function for governance, risk, and compliance. Clearly, there is a need to create awareness of the risks involved with cyber security across every organization, as security is no longer strictly an IT function, and employees across all levels within an organization need to be made aware of the risks involved and the policies and tools in place to protect them.

What other trends do you foresee as central to the region and your clients’ business? PJ: Businesses in the GCC will need to master the rise of Big Data and the possibilities that flexible infrastructure and analytics hold. To be competitive in today’s business environment, organizations need to be able to capture and analyze large volumes of data in order to gain useful insights. In line with big data, analytics are redefining the boundaries of what’s possible for organizations and entire industries. Analytics reveal what customers truly value and what’s really happening across a business’ operations. Additionally, we are seeing that cloud adoption is on the rise. To support this, new partnerships such as with IBM SoftLayer, are helping our customers better master the opportunities and cost savings that cloud provides.



Golden Horizon Media: An unconventional approach to success ALA’A KITTANI, GHM’S FOUNDER, CEO, AND MEDIA PLANNING MANAGER, DESCRIBES SEVERAL REVOLUTIONARY TRENDS IN DIGITAL MEDIA BUYING. CEO REPORT STEPPED INTO the offices of Golden Horizon Media to be greeted by Ala’a Kittani and his team. They roam the offices in slippers, which are also offered to guests. Inspired by his Japanese colleagues, Kittani adopted a slipper policy to keep the office free of dusty air and create a sense of comfort for his team and his clientele. This seemingly trivial example is a microcosm for Ala’a Kittani’s approach: synthesizing the best ideas from around the world. “I have a vast experience in this market because I have been in this region since 1979. Dubai is a multicultural city with over 200 nationalities and so, this kind of exposure helped us understand different cultures and languages. My own experiences have been enriched in Japan and the UK. We not only draw on a wealth of experience and connections, but the knowledge that comes from a wonderfully diverse team: each individual is a specialist in their area with skills that compensate where others may be lacking. The diverse cultural backgrounds of our team allow for new creative ideas for customers. This diversity is significant because we have clients in the food industry, travel and tourism, government entities, healthcare, education, ecommerce, and fashion. Each client requires a tailored and specific approach,” says Kittani. THE CHALLENGES OF THE DIGITAL MEDIA MARKET But even in this digitally-dominated age, there are still obstacles in the form of more traditionally-minded clients that require creative solutions. Ala’a Kittani clarifies, “Golden Horizon Media is a service provider, but we are also consultants who aim to provide exactly what the client needs in an ever-changing market.” One of the challenges in providing media services to GCC


countries is a lack of trust in new products that come to the market. “At the end of the day, this is digital media buying and some clients are not convinced it will produce results. We recommended a shift to ecommerce for a client that sold women’s fashions, but they preferred solely investing in television and newspaper advertisements. We eventually convinced the client by communicating through his son, who was studying marketing in university,” Kittani laughs. Ala’a Kittani recalled that “this was a one-year project where we ultimately handed over an ecommerce website and full social media activation to the client. It was something that we considered a challenge and we overcame it.” The project was notable not simply because of its success, but by how GHM used an unconventional approach to convince the client of the merits of digital media. The challenge of traditionally-minded clients is exacerbated when they set specific targets for their campaigns. “A franchised Turkish restaurant located in the Dubai Mall was targeting a specific number of walk-in customers but had a minimal budget for social and digital media. They wanted to spend on PR; however, for a restaurant located in the Dubai Mall, there are no opportunities for entertainment like shisha, concerts or bands to promote. The alternative we offered was quick-wins: the customers dine in and participate by posting a photo on instagram at the restaurant, which enters them as a potential winner for a trip to Turkey. The client was satisfied with the PR event and radio campaigns because he already believed in those platforms, even though he did not see a reflection on the ground with the number of customers,” Mr. Kittani says. Following the social media campaign, the average ticket price increased from 180 dhms to 250 dhms, so instead of

market share, the client based their ROI evaluations on revenue generation.

FACEBOOK TEEN MIGRATION, SINGLE CUSTOMER VIEW & SOCIAL MEDIA SEO In 2013, the CFO of Facebook, David Ebersman, admitted there was a drop in teenagers utilizing Facebook; they are keeping their accounts, but they are not actively using them. Instead, the youth are moving to more visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. Saudi Arabia was leading in the number of Twitter users in the MENA region, but has also shifted to Snapchat, exemplified by the several major influencers on the platform. The trends are showing a massive migration to these visual platforms among younger users. To Ala’a Kittani, this signifies one of the most important trends in digital media buying: “The migration from Facebook is occurring for several reasons. There is a growing awareness that a lot of false information is spread through Facebook and many have concerns that their privacy is at risk. The youth are shifting more to live videos because they feature current events and situations.” The evidence for this shift is Facebook itself by featuring videos that now open automatically. In addition, Instagram (owned by Facebook), extended the maximum video length for posts from 15 seconds to 60 seconds. “Life is becoming increasingly busy and fast-paced: visuals, through video or infographics, provide easier and faster access to information. The new generation chooses the content that they want to see and this leads into the next major trend in digital media buying: the single customer view. For any multinational brand, there is not only a decline in television ads and billboards, but also Facebook ads. Ultimately, these advertising strategies target a broad audience, so it does not speak


“GOLDEN HORIZON MEDIA IS A SERVICE PROVIDER, BUT WE ARE ALSO CONSULTANTS WHO AIM TO PROVIDE EXACTLY WHAT THE CLIENT NEEDS IN AN EVER-CHANGING MARKET.” directly to a specific target. Every customer has their own preferred platform that they access and they need to engage with the brand through that specific platform. The third trend is within SEO, but specifically, social media SEO in order for data to better reflect and convert potential social network leads into serious customers,” Mr. Kittani explains.

THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL NETWORKS AND GOLDEN HORIZON MEDIA Ala’a Kittani speculated that the future will likely be the transformation of social media platforms into a marketplace, so a customer will no longer be redirected to a website for ecommerce. Pinterest, which features its user’s interests through online boards, has already started utilizing “buyable pins” to make it convenient for users to make purchases. For Golden Horizon Media, the future is not solely economic growth but making positive contributions to society at large. “We have partnered with an Indian 3D animation team to produce our own viral content to spread online. The purpose is to develop awareness about social issues faced by various communities within the GCC. People are less threatened by 3D animated characters and visuals. This will engage people to devise solutions for overcoming obstacles that their community is facing. Most people are busy with their day-to-day lives, stuck in traffic and worrying about bills, so they are not noticing the invisible child or the elderly man. We want everyone to notice issues that are happening in Cairo, Jordan, India, the United Kingdom etc. There are stories anywhere you go and we want to provide something positive for society,” Mr. Kittani affirms. By targeting the youth of today, Golden Horizon Media hopes to make a difference in society that will lead to a brighter future: an uncommon goal for a unique media company.

Ala’a Kittani, Founder, CEO, and Media Planning Manager of GHM.



Signs of the times FASTSIGNS UAE, THE REGIONAL MASTER FRANCHISEE IN THE UAE AND THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA OF THE EPONYMOUS, RENOWNED US FRANCHISOR, HAS JUST COMMEMORATED THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF ITS FOUNDING IN THE COUNTRY. THE CURRENT ECONOMIC AND PERFORMANCE INDICATORS ARE ENCOURAGING FOR FASTSIGNS — A SIGN OF THE FRANCHISOR’S EXPERTISE, EXPERIENCE AND OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE. In an exclusive interview, the youthful, effervescent Osama El Enany, Country Manager, FASTSIGNS is upbeat and animated about the company’s progress in its first anniversary. “We have hit the ground running from day one,” he avers, “building on the thirty years of the rock solid FASTSIGNS reputation.” The multiple award-winning brand is now present in over 600 locations and in 11 countries across the globe, notes the Cairo, Egypt native with a career spanning the franchising and express delivery industries. “FASTSIGNS is more than fast, more than signs,” remarks El Enany, elaborating the brand tagline. “We are about speed, rapidity and cover the entire gamut of the signage and visual communication and marketing business in every region of the brand operations.” he adds.


Osama El Enany, Country Manager of FASTSIGNS.

FASTSIGNS UAE prides in being billed the ‘one-stop-shop’ for all individual and institutional signage, display and advertising needs offering sophisticated, cuttingedge products and a complete range of customized signage, graphics and visual communication and marketing products to a rapidly growing customer base of premium, blue-chip companies drawn from both the private and public sectors in addition to medium size companies and SMEs across all industry verticals. 16

Expansion is very much in focus and in sight for FASTSIGNS in the near foreseeable future according to El Enany. “The current flagship location on the busy Sheikh Zayed Road artery will oversee growth across the UAE, the African continent and the development of sub-franchises. “In three years time we target opening 12 locations in the UAE alone,” he declares. FASTSIGNS is now in growth mode and El Enany is keen to harness the tremendous potential and prospects awaiting the signage franchise industry in the UAE. This after all is a mature market and the run-up to Dubai Expo 2020 coupled with the continued development and expansion of new industrial and special economic zones, infrastructure and government trade incentives are a magnet for new investors gravitating into this region. “Signage is omnipresent, there is no dearth of business and I would like to invite motivated and visionary entrepreneurs to

come on board and partner with us as part of our sub-franchisee outreach endeavours to take advantage of deals waiting to materialize,’’ he stresses. Solitaire International General Trading, a highly-diversified, multinational trading conglomerate with a seven-nation presence in the GCC and North Africa, is the master franchisee for FASTSIGNS in the UAE and North Africa. The company also holds master franchise rights for several other global brands in its ambit of operations.

UAE SIGNAGE INDUSTRY — POINTERS, PROGRESS El Enany characterizes the UAE signage industry as being in a state of flux moving away from the traditional and the conventional. “FASTSIGNS is about dynamism, energy, innovation and sophistication. We want to be a stand-out and the place to come to for all business visibility requirements. I believe we have what it takes to be the leaders eventually by virtue of our know-how, proficiency, capabilities and resources,” asserts El Enany. “The partnership with our sub-franchisees is clearly going to be a win-win proposition. Name recognition, training, financial assistance, research and development of products and services and ongoing business support among other initiatives constitute key franchisee benefits,” he adds. The road ahead appears exciting for the start up with El Enany at the helm, but he takes it all in his stride. “Presently I am focused on consolidating and growing the company, a task made less demanding as we ride the FASTSIGN name,” he quips.


Pioneer provides Paramount protection in Cybersecurity PARAMOUNT HAS HAD THE PRIVILEGE TO ASSIST VARIOUS ORGANIZATIONS IN THE REGION TO EMBRACE CYBERSECURITY – THE RIGHT WAY! TODAY, PARAMOUNT IS ONE OF THE LONGEST SERVING CYBERSECURITY SERVICES COMPANY BASED OUT OF UAE WITH PRESENCE IN MORE THAN SEVEN COUNTRIES. as 1998, he foresaw the potential threat to Cybersecurity. Prem articulates his vision and makes the case for robust and inviolable security in this exclusive interview.


Premchand Kurup, CEO of Paramount Computer Systems.

PARAMOUNT COMPUTER SYSTEMS, the elite, industry-recognized and multipleaward winning Dubai Internet City-based company, is presently one of only three regional service providers of its kind in a highly fragmented market, offering customers pro-active, holistic, end-to-end, internationally recognized and certified Cybersecurity services and solutions. Tracing its genesis to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi in 1992, Paramount has since transformed and evolved under its visionary CEO, focusing on and opening new frontiers in Cybersecurity for the past 16+ yrs in the region. Premchand Kurup, an outspoken and effervescent CEO, is an acknowledged veteran in the ‘digital defense’ arena. As early

“The metamorphosis of Paramount from a PC company to an Internet, Information & Cybersecurity specialist firm was the outcome of discussions we had with several Government Departments and institutions when the Emirate was on the threshold of the internet revolution. Dubai was clearly leading that revolution. At that time there were hardly any security vendors in the marketplace and we realized that security on WWW was going to be of Paramount importance; and therein began our odyssey into the Cybersecurity realm. We have always been excited by playing a pioneering role” reminisces Prem.

EXTENSIVE SERVICES “Paramount offers comprehensive and 360o portfolio of services in the field of Cybersecurity encompassing converged IT, Telecom, ICS/SCADA and other advanced environments.” avers Prem. “These include a complete suite of expertise that extends to Governance, Risk & Compliance; Identity & Access, Cyber Network Defense; Managed Security Services; infrastructure and systems

integration including smart, agile, innovative and turnkey solutions,” adds Prem. The worldwide market for Cybersecurity was valued at US $ 70 billion in 2015 and expected to grow to US $ 170 billion by 2020, according to Prem. The GCC market was valued at approximately US $ 450 million in 2015. There is also a global dearth of talent in this specialized sector and Prem quoting experts, estimates a shortfall of 2 million cyber-security professionals by 2020. “This is definitely a high potential growth area with tremendous job opportunities. Additionally, mobility, cloud and social-media adoption will radically change the way security gets architected,” he states.

OVERSEAS PRESENCE Paramount currently enjoys a presence in all GCC states and with its recent launch in Kenya, the UAE-based company plans to go global. The company also operates a cuttingedge ‘Centre of Excellence’ in India, focusing on R&D that opens up the possibility of horizontal and vertical expansion with a strategic outlook. Paramount has always been peopleoriented and focused on Business Excellence which is manifested in several prestigious accolades bestowed on the company since 2002. These include ‘Great Place to Work’ and ‘Happiness in the Workplace’ Award; Ranked 5th among the Top 100 Dubai SMEs and Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Excellence Award. It is also the first IT company in the GCC to be certified in all 4 ISO standards. The company focuses greatly on CSR in the region and had won the ‘Dubai CSR Label’ from Dubai Chambers for the last three years in a row. Recently, CEO Prem was awarded and recognized ‘Asia Pacific Entrepreneur of the Year 2015’.





Bahadir Durusan, Managing Director of RPS Turkey.

RPS TURKEY (Retail Petroleum Solutions) is miles ahead on the road and speeding up in fuel retail and distribution methodologies thanks to its savvy capabilities and proven excellence in filling-station automation systems and state-of-the-art RFID based fleet fuel management systems. Collectively the RFID-based fleet fuel management solutions alongside pump automation, tank automation, tanker-truck automation and filling station automation systems bring various benefits to the fuel retailers such as manpower optimization, savings, controlling losses, monitoring all sales details, shift management and full reconciliation in between sales and stocks. “Our strategy is to build long-term partnerhips with our clients in providing comprehensive, proficient, technologically superior, flexible and secure operational, maintenance and after-sales services to contribute to their return-on-investment,” explains Bahadir Durusan, Managing Director, RPS Turkey. “To this end we offer a suite of our trademark signature services 18

The main customer value proposition behind RFID solutions is that it is the most reliable way of guaranteeing that the right fuel goes in to the right tank and ensure fraud prevention. As retailers capture larger market share and increase their sales through RFID solutions, fleet owners benefit from controlling the fuel consumption of their fleet on vehicle basis. For fleet owners it is possible to set any kind of benchmarking on their vehicles, be it daily, weekly, monthly volumetric limits or monetary limits. Also the system allows the fleet owners to set restrictions for fueling on a zone, day and time, station basis. All these controls are performed online by fleet managers through very user friendly FleetMatic service.

SAFETY FIRST Another value that RPS brings to the industry is wet stock management. Central monitoring systems, tank alarms, leak detection, tank alarms about water and fuel level and temperature information are values that TankMatic Automation systems bring to the industry from the HSSE (Health, Safety, Security & Environment) perspective. Apart from retailers, RPS provides solutions and services to commercial fuel buyers having in-house fueling capability. It is possible to integrate automation systems to dispensers and tanks of commercial clients fueling in-house. These are mainly ports, air-ports, project centres, mines, construction fields, logistics, supply chain and transport companies.

PERVASIVE GCC PRESENCE The GCC constitues the major theatre of operations for RPS outside of Turkey. Completed and ongoing projects are in operation in the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The vision of RPS is to become the most preferred and reliable one-point solutions provider in the field of fueling automation systems and RFID,in the region. The corporate mission is: ‘Bringing solutions to industry with reliable M2M (machine-tomachine) fuel transactions.’ “Bringing transparency and ease in controlling the sales and monitoring the operations is our goal,” affirms Durusan. “Through our solutions our retailer customers should be able to better understand the needs of their clients and as a by-product our commercial clients will be able to better control their fuel consumption in the most reliable way possible,” he asserts.


TagStone: The touchstone in wireless solutions FEATURED AMONG THE ‘TOP 10 VENDORS TO WATCH’ BY ENERGYCIOINSIGHTS.COM AND IN THE FOREFRONT OF PROVIDING CUTTING-EDGE ‘MOBILE AND LOCATION AWARE’ TECHNOLOGY, TAGSTONE’S CUSTOMIZED AND INDUSTRY-COMPLIANT SOLUTIONS HELP TRACK BOTH PEOPLE AND EQUIPMENT IN HAZARDOUS ONSHORE AND OFFSHORE ENVIRONMENT. AS A CONSEQUENCE of the upswing and the wide prevalence of mobile devices, location-based services are becoming increasingly pervasive in the work place across various industry verticals. Dubai-headquartered and Kuwaiti-owned TagStone, in the forefront of this rapidly growing niche arena, offers enterprise-class solutions that enhance functional safety, improve facility visibility and reinforce security. In the estimation of Muthla Al-Sayer, CEO and tech-entrepreneur, TagStone works closely with its customerpartners to provide specific, specialized insights, and monitors customers’ data tracking processes to present best-in-class, tailor-made solutions that best serve their needs. TagStone’s signature solution, TagSECURE ensures safety for perilous industries like energy, oil and gas, and chemical plants. The solution leverages developed and carefully crafted state-of-the-art RFID, GPS, and sensor-based technologies to empower and equip the rescue team with accurate POB (Personnel-on-board) and location information for emergency purposes. ROCK-SOLID CREDENTIALS Anoop Kanthan, COO, TagStone, in an exclusive interview, articulates his vision and sets an optimistic tone for the projected growth of the 2005-established enterprise and wireless solutions in the Middle East. “We are bullish that the Middle East and the GCC in particular will sustain a strong technology ecosystem. With its young population, entrepreneurial and trading culture, and low barriers to technology access, we think the region can foster its own version of Silicon Valley,” he affirms. “This is validated by the fact that many of the titans of Silicon Valley, whether the Tech companies themselves or the VCs (Venture Capitalists), are already directly investing in

the region. It’s an exciting time to be part of this emerging capability and we are proud to have a good legacy and strong footprint in this region,” he adds. Kanthan’s stated mission is to be the trusted technology partner in the region, providing specifically-developed industry-proven solutions to business problems and utilizing TagStone Labs competencies to help formulate innovation solutions.

HINGING ON PIONEERING, CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGIES TagStone’s uses its trademark Real Time Location Services (RTLS) technologies coupled with emerging IoT and data analytics to provide insights into their clients’ business functions. Kanthan prides in TagStone’s offering of its Lab Services that enable clients to incubate, test, and deploy sustaining or disruption innovation products or solutions. “We encourage companies to innovate and harness solutions that improve service levels and safety, reduce human error and control operational costs,” he asserts. Throwing light on the company’s provenance and credentials, Kanthan says that TagStone was one of the first companies to bring RFID to the region. “Our roots evolved to wireless business intelligence. Our core goals are to provide visibility and the data insights. The concept applies to a range of solutions from Personnel Safety and Tracking in hazardous oil and gas platforms to tracking and monitoring your vehicle as it passes through the world’s largest Automotive Service centers,” he explains.

MIDDLE EAST FUTURE SET IN STONE The Middle East is also adopting and adapting well to the latest RFID technologies avers Kanthan. He points out that there has been

Muthla Al-Sayer, CEO of TagStone.

Anoop Kanthan, COO of TagStone.

remarkable evolution in the region over the last decade when it comes to embracing technology. “When TagStone first started, we often spent our time educating customers on what our technology solutions can do for their business. In the last 10 years we have seen this change to a scenario where our clients are on the cusp of latest technologies in a business culture that now sees know-how as an enabler and differentiator,” he observes.



Amlak: A premier property financier in the Middle East AMLAK FINANCE, THE LEADING SPECIALIZED REAL ESTATE FINANCIER IN THE MIDDLE EAST, IS REINFORCING ITS POSITION AND PERFORMANCE, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CEO, ARIF ALHARMI EXPLAINS IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW. milestone came following a long process which required us to reassess the manner in which we operate and adapt to evolving market conditions.

Amlak Finance had a strong showing and made a profit in Q1-2016 that was almost the equivalent of 90% of the total profit made in the full calendar year 2015. To what do you attribute this good performance in the last quarter? We were very pleased to have achieved such strong numbers in Q1-2016. The income generated during Q1 can be mainly attributed to significant progression of our projects and sales of nearly 50% of land plots, in our Nad Al Hamar land project allowing us to recognize substantial revenue in Q1.

There are also several contenders in the property finance domain. What is your take on the competition and what distinguishes Amlak Finance from its competitors?

We know there is tough competition, as there is in every market, especially the UAE. In line with this, we believe the best way to differentiate ourselves and our brand is by providing exceptional customer service and continually expanding our product portfolio. Arif Alharmi, Managing Director and CEO of Amlak Finance.

As the pioneering Shari’a-compliant property finance provider, characterize the growth and evolution of Amlak Finance over the past 16 years? Amlak has evolved significantly over the past 16 years, both in the way we operate and our ongoing growth strategy. From 2008 until 2014 we worked to restructure our business and ultimately resumed trading our shares on the DFM in 2015. This key


What is your assessment of the current property finance & mortgage market in light of the rather volatile real estate market conditions? Despite low oil prices, tight liquidity conditions and geopolitical difficulties, we remain very confident in Dubai and the local market. With new laws and regulations, property registration and strata management there has been significant stabilization in the real estate market, allowing better visibility for investors and end users in this market segment. We believe the real estate

market is an integral part of the Dubai economy and is one which we are pleased to be part of.

What is your outlook for the remainder of 2016 and are you hoping to out-do your 2015 performance given an exceptional Q1-2016?

While the local market is facing some uncertainty, I believe that Amlak is entering a period of steady growth. My hope is to be able to mirror the economic success of Dubai in Amlak’s performance. Our strategy for 2016 will be to continue to focus on our target markets, offering unique and innovative products and services to customers as well as pursuing new funding initiatives.

Following your 2015 restructuring and return to DFM trading, how confident are you about Amlak Finance’s long– term future?

With the restructuring completed, we aim to put Amlak and its performance back on track, while of course adhering to our financial commitments to our financiers. Our strong financial performance since then is a strong testament to this. We will continue to focus on what we do best and build on the momentum generated over the past year.

Amlak Finance PJSC Toll Free: 800 26525, Tel: +971 4 427 4500 Fax: +971 4 427 4502, P O Box 2441 Dubai UAE



United Arab Emirates, Draw Link Group (DLG) has perfected the art of constructing a creative environment since it’s inception 10 years ago. The interior design company, which specialises in hospitality projects, has an impressive resume with its latest projects spanning across continents such as the Intercontinental Hotel & Apartments in Dubai, to the Radisson Beach Hotel in Tunis and the impressive Kigali Villa in Rwanda. For Daousser Chennoufi, CEO & Key Architect of DLG, and his experienced team of craftsmen and designers, being able to offer a turnkey solution for any project, from three-star budget hotels to five-star luxury, while remaining creative and innovative at all times. With a network of offices outside of the UAE, DLG is able to take on a project from concept design stage, all the way to supply of materials and fit out. “In order to offer our clients an uninterrupted supply chain of products and services, our international network of offices allows us to utilize the potential of each market,” explains Chennoufi. “For example, our partnership with a manufacturing facility in China allows us to offer customised furniture at competitive prices, while our vast network for sourcing branded items in Europe means we are always able to deliver exactly what our clients require.”

As a testament to its reputation in the industry, DLG has won a number of industry awards accolades over the years including Award from International Property Awards 2015 for Intercontinental Dubai Marina, Best Hotel Interior, Dubai and Award from Arabian Hotel Awards in association with Bloomberg for the Best Hotel Interior Arabia 2011, project Radisson Royal, Dubai. “When we were presented with the opportunity to take on a hotel project in Sharjah, rather than being scared off, we relished the idea of taking on an untapped market that is not known for its hospitality,” Chennoufi says. The result was a very unique concept for the first boutique hotel in Sharjah. The 72-room contemporary hotel offers an alternative point of view for hospitality in the traditionally tourist-shy Emirate.




The DLG philosophy is to create a concept for hotels that offers more than just a comfortable night’s stay; a hotel should offer the promise of lifestyle. According to Chennoufi, the challenge is to not repeat what has been done before. “R&D is the cornerstone of our business model and we are endlessly pushing the boundaries to create intelligent designs and exciting new environments for our clients. Even the most basic hotel concepts do not need to be conventional and ordinary due to budget constraints.”

Chennoufi believes that the UAE’s hospitality market has become saturated with five-star and luxury hotels and, as we approach the World Expo 2020, the country is gearing up for a boom in the budget hotels segment. “The idea is not to mass-produce large hotels with small rooms, rather to find an economical way to cater for guests looking for high quality, innovative budget accommodation,” explains Chennoufi. The future for DLG looks as exciting and as varied as the country’s hospitality

Daousser Chennoufi, CEO & Key Architect of Draw Link Group.

industry as the company embarks on its first ever hotel concept that is fully owned by DLG. “Our version of hospitality will be unique to DLG,” adds Chennoufi. “We will offer guests the added value of being able to discover culture and the arts during their stay. When we think differently, we can all learn from each other and create something extraordinary.”


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CEO Report: GULF2020  
CEO Report: GULF2020