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EMC Redefines Smart Solutions

Al Shaali & Co. & DEDD

Aster DM Healthcare


Acwa Power



CONTENT 5 EMC Redefines Smart Solutions 6 PALO ALTO NETWORKS Safeguard your Business with Palo Alto Networks 8 INFINITI leads the way in premium automotive segment 10 AL MULLA Quality Excellence Priority for Kuwait’s Al Mulla Industries 12 ICFLIX Transforming from streaming to original production 14 AL MIYAH HOLDING GROUP CEO Pierre Boueri of Al Miyah Holding Group: “When Water Becomes a Passion” 16 ACWA POWER set for rapid expansion in the GCC and beyond 18 REDTAG opens 150th store 20 PROLOGIX riding on the cloud 21 MACQUARIE predicts commodities growth in the region 22 PICO UAE paints the MICE industry green 23 SHAPOORJI PALLINJI INTERNATIONAL Preferred choice in global construction 24 MARINA ASSETS & City Eyes charts future of offshore waste management 26 MICC GREEN TEC Sun shines on MiccGreenTec 28 VIESMANN warms up to the Middle East 30 EMAX An Electronics ‘Landmark’ plans to reach 100 stores by 2017 32 GULF DRUG keeps UAE’s healthcare fighting fit 34 AL SHAALI & CO A united front against counterfeits 36 MOORFIELDS EYE HOSPITAL DUBAI Care for sight 38 NEWBRIDGE continues to bridge innovation from west to east 39 LILLY goes beyond diabetes treatment 40 AL BARARI Urban seclusion – an Al Barari model 42 RVS Creating a RVS fashion legacy 44 RAK Ras Al Khaimah is a business-friendly investment centre 46 BURGAN BANK Banking models should be simple to yield agility & efficiency 48 UNB With milestone year end profits, UNB sets sights on higher growth targets 50 MIDCOM Passion for excellence fuels Midcom’s stellar growth 52 CERNER celebrates 25 years in the Middle East region 53 EMITAC Four decades in the UAE tech sector 54 ASTER DM HEALTHCARE casts wider net 56 ACER seeks bigger slice of PC pie 57 NOOR always there to serve Egypt’s enterprises and now back to serving it’s people 58 TECH ACCESS Delivering complete IT suite 59 PROTIVI focuses on specialised approach 60 EFG HERMES 30 Years on as MENA’s Prominent Investment Bank 61 HENKEL looks to mop up more GCC market share 62 MARCOM ARABIA Localising marketing concepts, the mantra behind Marcom Arabia’s success 63 INFINITY Excelling, innovating and finding new approaches to communication solutions 64 DATAFLOW weeds out immigration fraudsters 66 NEXUS Sky is the limit for NEXUS




Publisher, Editor-in-chief: Kalle Salmi CEO, Content Group International: Johan Ehrstrรถm Project Managers: Lauri Stevens, Maryam Shoaei, Rida Jillani, Danielle Francisco Content Executive: Emilia Paulig Art Director: Petra Pirinen


Journalists: Criselda Diala-McBride, Maryan Abdinur, Rosette Fares, Alessandra Bajec, Amber Shahid Photographers: Hiten Nainaney, Aaron David, Bader Al-Bather, Taha Khan, Laura Utarbayeva Concept owner: Content Group International, HDS Business Center, Cluster M, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai, United Arab Emirates A Gulf News Sponsored Supplement, published by Al Nisr Publishing.



EMC Redefines Smart Solutions Where does the MENA region stand in terms of innovation and adoption of technology? The EMC Digital Universe study for the Middle East and North Africa reveals that the digital universe in the MENA will grow by 600%. The exponential growth of data is driving a change of behaviour by organizations. Trends like Mobility, Social Networks, Cloud and Big Data are leading organizations to think and adopt new technologies to manage not just the growth but its complexity to be able to deliver costs optimization, scalability and agility to respond to the market dynamics. The advantage of no legacy infrastructure in the region is allowing organizations and governments to leap in adoption of the latest technology. These adoptions are led by strategic initiatives in some countries to deliver mobile services, smart cities for higher social standard and economic development. What is driving the adoption of the latest technologies in the MENA Region? Aspiring to establish knowledge based economies, governments are putting the infrastructure to build Smart Societies based on Technologies like Cloud and Software Defined everything and focused around leveraging the value derived from Big Data and social trends. In parallel, enterprises are going through similar transformation triggered by initiatives such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) in addition to the absolute need to reduce capital and operational expenditure on technology and shift the cost and delivery model to IT as a service [ITaaS] to give them the agility needed to compete in the market place. The increased government regulations around physical security are increasing the adoption of advanced Video Surveillance solutions with data analytics capabilities. Last but not least is the increase of cyber attack and the need for all organizations to adopt new information security solutions that is analytics based. What verticals are of key focus to EMC? Today the technology is the key driver of business advancement. All Enterprises,

regardless of the industry, need to drive optimization and cost reductions and invest more in their R&D and new business models. EMC’s Technology serves all industries. Nevertheless, in the region we see that some industries are more active than others, this is mainly driven by the future vision of countries or the advancement of these industries in versus others. In essence, all industries need to modernize their IT to survive in the next era of IT that IDC refers to as “Third Platform of Technology”. What role can EMC play in the government’s objectives to build “Smart Cities” and “Knowledge Based Economies”? As the technology landscape moves to the 3rd Platform, or an IT as a Service “ITaaS” model, managing information becomes central to the operations of Smart Cities. EMC Federation structure allows for an adaptive way of innovation across the IT landscape. EMC Federation consists of 5 brands housed in 3 companies that are strategically aligned to allow innovation to their business model; innovation in technology; and to empower our customers to innovate in their industries by providing them with choice. EMC Information Infrastructure “EMC II”, which includes the “VCE” and “RSA” brands, provides a foundation for organizations to store, manage, protect, analyze, and secure ever increasing quantities of information, while at the same time improving business agility, lowering cost, and increasing competitive advantage. These benefits can be greatly enhanced with virtualization as well as automation. VMware is uniquely positioned to help customers move from the client-server era to the cloud era of computing. EMC’s majority-owned Pivotal Software, Inc. is a leading provider of application and data infrastructure software, agile development services, and data science consulting. Pivotal is formed to target the unique challenges that the 3rd platform asks especially the opportunity that lies in Big Data. Pivotal is building new platforms comprising next-generation data fabrics, application fabrics, and a cloud in-

Habib Mahakian, Regional General Manager for EMC’s Gulf & Pakistan.

dependent Platform-as-a-Service (“PaaS”). The power of the EMC Federation provides a unique comprehensive open data platform that includes data lakes and oasis’ that provide a foundation for building new Big Data applications, which are at the core of Smart Cities, underpinned by software defined infrastructure fully automated, virtualized and secure. What is EMC’s Vision for 2015 and beyond? EMC’s vision is to help organizations Re-define their IT infrastructure from today till they complete their journey of transformation towards the Third Platform of IT. Through EMC Federation we are committed to provide our customers choice, innovation and reliability and best of breed technologies around cloud computing, Big Data and security and protection.


Safeguard your Business with Palo Alto Networks ving and fast changing technology-ecosystem with us and can focus on their core business while we manage their security concerns. Palo Alto Networks was established in the US in 2005. When did you set up shop in the Middle East? Outside of Dubai, in how many regional markets are you present? Our Route to Market model is driven by our invaluable channel partners. We entered ME region with a model that isn’t just channel-friendly, but channel-centric, with substantial and ongoing investment in partner enablement. We established in this region via our partners more than 5 years ago & opened our 1st office in Saudi Arabia in 2012, followed by UAE & Qatar. We already see steady growth with triple-digit year-overyear growth in Dubai, Riyadh & Doha & will expand in select countries very soon. How important is the Middle East for Palo Alto Network’s global operations? What made the company decide to enter this market? ME customers face the same security challenges many of their global counterparts do, and our preventive security vision is resonating very well. The region receives substantial support & focus from our global HQs.

Saeed Agha, General Manager Middle East, Palo Alto Networks.


ybersecurity affects every industry and is a key concern for C-level decision makers who want to prevent breaches and the loss of critical data, as well as manage the potential long-term fallout a breach can have on reputation.


With approximately 21,000 customers in 120 countries & more than 75 of the Fortune 100 as our customers, we are poised to become an integral part of security fabric in Middle East. Organizations can better manage and protect the ever-evol-

Could you please describe the types & volume of investments that Palo Alto Networks is injecting in the Middle East? Along with significant investment in headcount and resources specific to the region, we participate in industry events such as GITEX & GISEC & several Government, FSI, Oil & Gas security summits. Fuel User Group, a global community of Palo Alto Networks users and industry thought leaders with a branch in Dubai & Cyber Threat Alliance, drives our knowledge share & best practices initiatives. We also acquire & nurture talent & will create a talent pool via our Academy Program due to launch in select ME countries.

Your Next Generation Firewall is considered an industry leader. How are you positioning yourself in the region? What other products can you offer to your ME clients? Our solutions are a complete paradigm shift from a security stance based on detection and remediation to one based on prevention. The Enterprise Security Platform has 3 essential components – next- generation firewall, advanced endpoint protection & threat intelligence cloud – to secure computing environments, prevent known & unknown threats, & safely enable the increasingly complex & rapidly growing number of applications in use by businesses and governments every day. What trends have helped shape the Middle East’s cybersecurity landscape? How are you contributing to those trends? The Middle East market has matured as more CEO’s realize the impact of cyber se-

curity & why it must be a strategic decision. Customers adapt to latest trends leaving legacy solutions behind & trends like Cloud & DC Virtualization, BYOD & mobility, SDN & Cyber threats are on top of agenda everywhere. Our security platform spans across the full infrastructure & we can offer granular visibility of user & application behavior while preventing known and unknown threats. We urge entities to invest in security technology with actionable intelligence that goes beyond a “data dump” & identifies which alerts are most important and what to do about them. In addition, what are the major challenges affecting companies & government entities in the region in as far as cybersecurity is concerned? An ongoing challenge is the quest to achieve a balance between management support vs budget. Getting buy-in on prevention & intelligence across the whole enterprise

regardless of device, content or location is also a challenge. What is the cost of not having a proactive security strategy for today’s businesses? Lack of a proactive security strategy puts a business or government in a reactive mode, firefighting but incapable of intelligence, analysis & prevention of cyber attacks. Such an approach often results in plenty of spending – such as the cost of incident response teams – but no ability to prevent data exfiltration or restore valuable data after an attack. What are your growth plans for the Palo Alto Networks in the Middle East in the next 5 years? We aim to foster a community to embrace “prevention & safety” as a foundation of business & create optimal infrastructure that enables our security innovations & technology to work & succeed for our customers.


Infiniti leads the way in premium automotive segment As a premium car brand, Infiniti offers a bold, alternative choice to the discerning car customer, says Juergen Schmitz, Managing Director, Infiniti Middle East.


he Middle East is one of the top markets for Infiniti worldwide. The brand was officially launched in the UAE in 2005 by Chairman and CEO, Renault-Nissan Alliance, Carlos Ghosn, as only the second market to officially launch the brand after North America. Their presence has since expanded to nine countries in the Middle East & Levant with more than 24 sales points. Fostering long-term growth “Aside from just offering our customers a premium motoring experience, we seek to offer a complete peace-of-mind package. At Infiniti, we are not just about selling cars, but rather fostering and growing a longterm relationship with our customers,” says Juergen Schmitz, Managing Director, Infiniti Middle East. Most of Infiniti’s regional partners offer varying packages that are in line with global Infiniti standards to ensure their customers enjoy a peace-of-mind ownership experience. “For example, our strategic partner in Saudi Arabia, Al Ghassan Motors, offers a 5-year or 100,000 km extended warranty, 24h roadside assistance for 5 years and a service package for 5 years or 100,000 km (whichever comes first),” explains Schmitz. Standing out from the crowd

Juergen Schmitz, Managing Director, Infiniti Middle East.


Moving into new markets means having to get to know your customer. Car brands, such as Infiniti, need to stand out from the crowd. Here in the UAE, and the region at large, Schmitz believes customers looking to purchase a vehicle in the premium automotive segment are spoiled for choice as there are so many fantastic products available. “The real challenge is the ability to distinguish one product from the other,

with more than just the brand name.” As a premium car brand, Infiniti offers a bold, alternative choice to the discerning car customer. “We like to offer customers the chance to make a statement as individuals and really stand out from the crowd; from both a product differentiation standpoint as well as how we present our image externally,” says Schmitz. “This differentiation is a crucial detail that a number of manufacturers are embracing. At Infiniti, differentiation, as well as innovation, is what gives us our edge.” One such area is technology. Infiniti vehicles incorporate the latest in terms of safety, comfort and connectivity. “This is more than on par with our competitors,” says Schmitz. These include world-first technologies such as Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Around View Monitor and Backup Collision Intervention. Premium brand alignment For Infiniti, 2014 was a very good year, both regionally and globally, as they continue on their path to becoming an accredited member of the global premium automotive club. Looking forward, Infiniti aims to maintain their position as the fastest growing premium automotive brand here in the Middle East. Reflecting on their accomplishments in the 2014 calendar year, Schmitz says, “First and most importantly, we closed out 2014 as the fastest growing premium brand in the Middle East registering a growth percentage of 26% - which is more than double the market average.” On the product front, Infiniti launched the all-new Q50 Sedan with a host of worldfirst technologies and a completely new design language. They also introduced the iconic QX70 S Elite Sport that combines the

“WE LIKE TO OFFER CUSTOMERS THE CHANCE TO MAKE A STATEMENT AS INDIVIDUALS AND REALLY STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD; FROM BOTH A PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION STANDPOINT AS WELL AS HOW WE PRESENT OUR IMAGE EXTERNALLY.” style and performance of a sports car with the stance and toughness of an SUV. Lastly, Infiniti closed out the year with the launch of the QX80 full size SUV with a number of new design and technological innovations offering their regional customers a ‘First Class Everyday’ experience. “We also continued to increase our footprint in the region by expanding our existing network with our IREDI centres in Jeddah, Riyadh and Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia, and our first IREDI centre in Lebanon,” adds Schmitz. Looking ahead According to Schmitz, Infiniti has a number of new and exciting plans for our fiscal year 2015. “We will be launching the allnew Q70 sedan complete with a new front and rear facia, as well as a host of new technologies. Furthermore, during the Dubai Motor Show, later this year, we will be showcasing our full Infiniti range, as well as some exciting product announcements. I remain confident that we will continue to deliver on our promise of the Infiniti premium motoring experience to all of our customers.” Schmitz confirms that Infiniti is committed to expanding its global model range as well as its powertrain offering, which will better enable them to cater to a wider audience. Infiniti recently unveiled their Q60 Concept at the Detroit Motor Show. While the Q60 Concept is fresh and original, it evokes a sense of déjà vu at times with whiffs and traces of the Q80 Inspiration evident in its finest details. “The QX30 Concept also made its world premiere at the Geneva International Motor Show in March. The QX30 Concept is the Infiniti design-vision which will inspire a new premium compact crossover targeted at a new generation of premium customers,” concluded Schmitz.


Quality Excellence Priority for Kuwait’s Al Mulla Industries Diversification brings growth and new opportunities, says Mr. Talal Al Mulla, Director – Al Mulla Group.


ince its foundation in 1938, Al Mulla Group has adopted a methodical vision based on professional management, devoted work, and continuous efforts to exceed customers’ expectations. Today, Al Mulla Group is one of the largest privately owned businesses in Kuwait and the Gulf region with operations in 8 countries, 15,000 employees, 40+ group companies and subsidiaries, and affiliations with over 200 international brands, operating through 5 business verticals. “Al Mulla Industries – a company operating under the Trading & Manufacturing Group, is one of the fastest growing businesses under Al Mulla Group Holding Company,” says Talal Al Mulla, Director of the Al Mulla Group. Talal gives us a glimpse into the workings of Kuwait’s leading industrial manufacturer along with the activities of their steel fabrication, transport refrigeration and air movement products divisions. Steeling ahead of the game Al Mulla Steel (AMS), a division of Al Mulla Industries, is a leading manufacturer and supplier of turnkey quality steel products in Kuwait. Established over 20 years ago, AMS is dedicated to superior quality and customer satisfaction with products sold across the GCC and Iraq. Specializing in the fabrication of heavy steel products catering to the Oil & Gas, logistics, chemical industry, construction, and military applications, AMS is fully equipped with heavy metal working machinery, including Kuwait’s most advanced manufacturing set up with an in-house non-destructive and mechanical testing facility supported comprehensively with state-of-the-art engineering design software such as Pro-E, PV Elite, Staad Pro, E-Tank and a workforce of over 350 technically qualified personnel.


Mr. Talal Al Mulla, Director of Al Mulla Group.

“The Oil & Gas industry is by far the main focus of our Steel operations and this will undoubtedly increase considering the significant Oil & Gas projects in Kuwait and the rest of the Middle East that have either been awarded already or are in the pipeline” says Talal. “To cater to this growth in this industry, we at AMS continuously develop new products that further enable us to provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace. As an example, one of our most recent achievements was the introduction of a new product line of Skid Mounted Process Equipment which has already received several orders from operators in this industry. Another project that was recently completed is a substantial contract for the manufacturing of silos, batch mixers, and cement bulk carriers for the Iraq Drilling Company, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Oil of Iraq. To further strengthen our scope

of products and services, we have partnerships with renowned service providers in Oil & Gas coating applications and process engineering companies which we are confident will enable us to further grow in the Gulf region and beyond.” Al Mulla Steel’s manufacturing facility is in a class of its own. Located in Shuaiba Industrial area in Kuwait, and with a total area of 30,000 square meters, the facility handles all customer requirements to the highest local and International standards. AMS has accreditation for ISO 9001, ‘S’, ‘U’, ‘U2’, ‘PP’, ‘R’, & ‘NB’ stamps from ASME as well as all the necessary approvals and accreditations from Kuwait’s oil sector companies, including Kuwait Oil Company, Kuwait National Petroleum Company, Kuwait Oil Tanker Company for all types of tanks, process equipment, pressure vessels, and others.


Looking towards 2015, Talal reflects on AMS’s plans for steel fabrication. “Due to extreme price completion in this area, International EPC contractors prefer main products to be manufactured locally as opposed to being imported,” he says. “With this in mind, AMS will be establishing cost effecting product lines for reactors, heaters, heat exchangers, and other complimentary equipment. Also with our partnership with world famous process engineering and anti-corrosion protection companies we will push for further exports into other Middle Eastern countries.” Keeping cool The Transport Refrigeration (TR) division of Al Mulla Industries is Kuwait’s market leader in the manufacturing of insulated bodies using latest injection & vacuum lamination technology for transportation of frozen and chilled products for the FMCG, agricultural, medical, and logistics industries with over 50% market share. The TR division is one of the first companies in the region to build an in-house vacuum lamination tables of 15 x 3.2 meter size which enables it to produce single piece insulated panels for Reefer Trailers. The division is also the exclusive agent for the sales and service of Carrier Transicold refrigeration units and Dholandia brand tail lifts, with a dedicated after sales team operating 24 hours a day across Kuwait. “We have substantially grown the TR division by continuously developing new products, expanding our business across the region and by maintaining an excellent relationship with all our customers ” explains Talal. “Today, the TR division exports its products to Iraq, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt and other countries in the Middle East and East Africa. To support the Sales team, we have a dedicated Design

& Planning team of engineers who are experienced in all types of specifications and bespoke applications.” Talal emphasizes that by maintaining excellent client relations, and delivering a fast and efficient service, Al Mulla Industries’ TR division is able to continuously grow its market share in all countries of operation. “Our plan for 2015 and beyond is to increase our TR export business to all GCC countries, including Iraq, and to improve business relations with our suppliers to forge lucrative partnerships that are beneficial to both of us.” Moving in the right direction Established in 2003, the Air Movement Products (AMP) division of Al Mulla Industries is a leading manufacturer of all types of air distribution products and is an official Licensee manufacturer of PRICE Industries (USA) products in Kuwait and the UAE. The AMP division differentiates itself from other Kuwaiti manufacturers by being the only Underwriters Laboratory (UL) certified manufacturer of Fire Dampers, as well as being a manufacturer of AHRI (Air Conditioning Heating and Refrigeration Institute, USA) Certified VAVs, a member of AMCA (Air Movement & Control Association International Inc.) and the approved supplier of AMP for ARAMCO. State of the art manufacturing facilities in both Kuwait and the UAE include the latest production equipment including CNC Turret presses, CNC Press Brake machines, and fully automated Powder coating plants. “Although our Engineering Group today is the largest MEP contractor in Kuwait, only 30% of our total revenue comes from them,” says Talal. “Being a local manufacturer enables us to provide a quick response to

last minute changes from customers. This provides us with a significant competitive advantage against manufacturers from the US and other GCC countries entering the Kuwaiti market.” Looking ahead, the AMP division plans to establish several new product lines related to HVAC, as well as to start the manufacturing of cable trays, trunking, and other complimentary products for sale and export to other countries in the region. With its three manufacturing divisions continuously being improved both operationally and strategically, Al Mulla Industries is well on the way to achieving its goals for 2015 while continuing to maintain health and safety as operational priority in everyday activities. Undoubtedly, AMI’s engineering strength lies in the latest design software and quality control initiatives, which enables it to meet the strictest International standards. Al Mulla Group’s manufacturing division leads the way in home-grown engineering and manufacturing excellence.


icflix: Transforming from streaming to original production Carlos Tibi, CEO and founder of the award-winning icflix, reveals how they’ve gained more than 100,000 subscribers in two years and how Arabic content production is reinforcing their Jazwood brand.


ntil recently, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) was one of the regions that lacked a decent-sized content streaming platform, despite the high mobile penetration rates it has become known for. While a number of players emerged in the last few years, a huge hunger remained for a more comprehensive library that could be accessed anywhere, anytime. That’s when icflix stepped in. Launched two years ago in Dubai, the video-on-demand service provider already has 120,000 subscribers across the MENA region, a number growing by around 25% month over month. “We built the technology ourselves, so icflix is not only a content provider or a streaming company but it’s also a technology company. We continuously enhance and update our service and library, almost every week,” notes Tibi. From Jazwood to Bollywood to Hollywood, the streaming platform now offers movies, TV series, documentaries, and cartoons from a massive digital library. “We came up with ‘Jazwood’, a term that we coined in 2012, that stands for Al Jazeera Al-Arabiya. Most of our partners now use the term and it’s picking up slowly, even by our competitors”. With nearly 1.5 petabyte of data, icflix’s colossal collection holds more than 50,000 hours of entertainment on demand, with titles from 2014 back to 2002. Thanks to partnerships with most major Middle East, Bollywood, and Hollywood studios, the


company is able to offer a tempting range of content at a monthly subscription fee of AED 29 (US$7.99). Numbers aside, icflix is actually quite young, having made its first release in September 2013, only a year after establishment. “We started very small and grew fast over the last two years, not only in office size but also in locations,” says Tibi, who’s involved in every aspect of the company together with his partner Fadi Mehio. “We’ve expanded to Cairo, Egypt, Casablanca, Morocco and Prague, Czech Republic where we have our technology hub. Today, we have relationships with over 100 studios in Hollywood.”

“WE BUILT THE TECHNOLOGY OURSELVES, SO ICFLIX IS NOT ONLY A CONTENT PROVIDER OR A STREAMING COMPANY BUT IT’S ALSO A TECHNOLOGY COMPANY. WE CONTINUOUSLY ENHANCE AND UPDATE OUR SERVICE AND LIBRARY, ALMOST EVERY WEEK.” Segmenting the MENA To ensure their presence across the MENA, icflix dedicated time to each market within the region, starting with Egypt and moving to the rest of North Africa. “Within North Africa, you have Egypt, which carries a population of more than 90 million. It’s a market of its own and the Hollywood of the Middle East, where most of the Arabic production happens, so our Cairo office was a critical one.” Soon, the company realized it was missing out on the other 20 million-plus Arabs living in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia,

where the Arabic language was characterized by a mix of French and Arabic. “We figured that Morocco was the most liberal from a doing business perspective, so we set up an office there to do sales and marketing and acquire content.” Tibi reveals that they’re now eyeing Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for small offices to cater to those markets and provide localization. Like North Africa, he explains, the GCC has its own content and a much of it is Kuwaiti. “They’re more into entertainment; you’ll find a lot of Kuwaiti TV series have made it big in the GCC.” And while the Hollywood content is licensed for the MENA region, the Jazwood and Bollywood content is licensed for global stream. “We can comfortably say that we have the largest Arabic library online, and we’re also doing our own original Arabic production.” Twelve movies in 2015 icflix’s phenomenal success led to bigger ambitions to create their own theatrical movies, four of which have been completed. HIV went online in October 2014 and was the first Arabic film to portray the story of the disease and its impact on the social settings of those infected. This was followed by the release of Al-Makeeda in late December, a police thriller produced in Egypt by a team of fresh talents. “Al-Makeeda was shown across 200 cinemas in Egypt and you’ll see it in the UAE cinemas this year, after which it will go on our platform. We’re producing our third and fourth movie in parallel and our commitment is 12 original productions in 2015,” says Tibi. In addition, six productions are planned for Morocco, in partnership with the Centre Cinématographique Marocain, the local cinematic institution.

Carlos Tibi, CEO and founder of icflix.

“Our productions don’t go after famous actors, we went the other way around and took the Hollywood approach. Every movie will have fresh faces with excellent acting.” Indeed, icflix runs a Jazwood academy in Cairo, where they cast new talent in collaboration with local universities and acting institutions. At the same time, the company is gearing up for their biggest announcement yet – 1001 nights (Alf Leila we Leila) – to be released in Ramadan and shown exclusively on icflix, with subtitles in English and French. “It’s going to be the Game of Thrones of Arabic content – that level of production,” remarks Tibi. “We worked with Synergy Group in Egypt, one of the region’s top production houses, and it’s being shot in four countries, including Ireland, Greece, and

Egypt. It’s an epic; we’ve had people asking us about the show from Eastern Europe.” Unconventional marketing Spreading the word has seen some unusual efforts being made by icflix. From a Pizza Hut campaign that gave away a 24-hour access code with each delivery, to special offers to VisaCard holders and du customers, clever marketing channels always pay off. “Pizza Hut was a great campaign and we’ve done lots of work with Samsung. Du is also a great promotion and we have multiple deals with other telecom operators in the region. We try to think outside the box rather than focusing only on traditional marketing.” User trends are quickly changing, however, which requires adaptability. In Janu-

ary 2014, for example, 60% of icflix’s content was consumed on PCs and a mere 6% on smart TVs. Now that the latter’s cost is declining, PC usage recently dropped to 48% and smart TVs are capturing around 15%. Thus, to broaden their accessibility further, icflix will soon be available on PS4, allowing users to access the service through their gaming platform. “I believe 2015 will be a big year for us because we’re going to have many strategic partnerships, whether with telecom operators, content providers or our own original productions. “It will also be an important year as internet speeds improve across the region and more people become more aware of our service. Today, people have heard of icflix but may not know exactly what it is, as our objective last year was to raise awareness of the brand, which we have now achieved. This year, we will be closing that gap.”


CEO Pierre Boueri of Al Miyah Holding Group: “When Water Becomes a Passion”


ATERMASTER* originally founded by Eng. Khalil Boueri in 1980, currently the Chairman of Al Miyah Holding Group, who fulfilled the objective of establishing a private professional company engaged in electro-mechanical design and contracting works. After 33 years of innovation in the market, WATERMASTER once again was innovatively restructured into AL MIYAH HOLDING GROUP in 2013, in order to keep pace with fast technological changes of both the Recreational and Treatment Sub-Industries. WATERMASTER in Lebanon and Qatar have therefore grown from a Specialized MEP subcontractor into a Specialized Turn-Key Contractor. This it has done with the help of 500 employees located in Qatar and 150 employees in Lebanon. The company is still expanding in order to meet the demands of Qatar’s growing market. After two years of the restructuring of the group, the three companies are independently and successfully functioning with perfect synergy between themselves, below the group umbrella. All the above is of course to the benefit of the customer where he could still find a one-stop shop however with optimized service at each stop between Quality and Price, to meet his demands and budget. WATERMASTER, WaterCenter, and Fluidesign The three Companies that function under Al Miyah Holding Group are Watermaster, WaterCenter, and Fluidesign. Mr. Boueri explained: “WATERMASTER is a pioneer contracting company that emphasizes on the wellness industry and has extensively committed its resources to the R&D and Water Services within two sub-divisions:


Treatment: water, wastewater and its condiments, and Recreational: swimming pools, water features and wellness centers. The scope ranges from Design Concepts, Turn-key Projects Realization to After Sales Services. We provide our customers with all phases from the preliminary ones; design, assembly, construction, supply to the final technical stages, operation, trials and testing and most importantly the preventive maintenance of the process plants and equipment”.

to separate our new “Retail Driven” entity from our existing “Projects Driven” company WATERMASTER. Our simple website, color coded catalog and applications in addition to our trained sales force shall simplify the process to the customer and shall provide him a great experience while visiting the WaterCenter”.


The third company is Fluidesign that gathers expert, skilled and professional aqua architects and engineers operating in partnership with worldwide conceptualizers, designers or specific consultants; together to insure a serious pioneering performance making the project a piece of advanced art.

Whereas with respect to WaterCenter, he illustrated that “it emerged naturally and straight from the need of our customers. We felt that a big segment of our market, more precisely End-Users (Private Residential and Commercial) needed a center where they can come with their partners or Interior Designers and experience the different wellness elements in order to upgrade their life to a better wellbeing state”. He added: “WaterCenter was an innovative move from Al Miyah Holding Group

Five categories are there for the well-being of the customer which are Wellness, Outdoor, HSE, WT and WWT. “We believe it is a Center more than a Showroom, as you can visit and test the different products and allow us to advise you on the best possible choice”, Mr. Boueri said.

Along with the treatment and wellness study, today Fluidesign furnishes the client with wide-range services such as guidance, consultancy, architectural, mechanical and electrical specialization’s design. For each activity its conceptualized scope and for each customer their unique treat. Mr. Boueri assured that “they commit themselves to offer -professionals, developers, architects, MEP consultants, municipalities, hospitals, universities, industries and end users- cutting edge novelty. For this purpose we created for you Fluidesign, out of our passion for water and life”. Responding to clients’ calls WATERMASTER engineering team has dedicated his resources in the research, development and design of Water Features, Wellness Centers, Swimming Pools, Water and Waste Water Treatment.

*Watermaster: a pioneer specialized turn-key contractor that emphasizes on the wellness industry using the water element.

In the aim of securing to the market the fully engineered solution, studied and driven by the most recent technical and aesthetic innovations, an independent design entity reveals to be mandatory. Thus was Fluidesign s.a.l. WATERMASTER in Qatar and Its Projects Watermaster has been successfully operating in Qatar since 2006 in partnership with Investment Holding Group, executing a large number of projects with an impressive track record from design to construction to maintenance and after sales support. Fortified with 35 years of experience in the diverse conditions of the Middle East, educated by successfully undertaking hundreds of diverse and prestigious projects, WATERMASTER (QATAR)’s expertise resides in its innovative engineering concepts, solid scientific knowledge, by applying the best practice industry solutions available. A testimony to its services, some of the company’s landmark references include Turn-Key Solutions Design and Build; Al Wajba Palace, Torch Tower Spa, The Pearl Island and Residences, Hamad Medical City, Sidra Medical & Research Center, La Cigale Hotel, St. Regis Hotel, Kempenski Hotel and our newest is The Kempenski Hotel-The Pearl. Maintenance Services: Qatar Olympic Committee Stadiums, American School, Doha College, Emiry Guard just to name a few.

Pierre Boueri, CEO of Al Miyah Holding Group.

Mr. Boueri said that “Our short term future plans are to establish WATERMASTER (Emirates) which is under opening within a month, in addition to WaterCenter in Qatar and Dubai and Fluidesign in Qatar. On the other hand, Al Miyah Holding Group long-term plans are to establish our branches in Oman and Saudi Arabia, and to expand to Africa.”




RedTag opens 150th store Celebrating their 150th store in the GCC region, Ernest Hosking, CEO of value fashion and lifestyle giant RedTag, talks about the businesses’ fast growth and their vision for the future.


edTag, a major player in the value fashion and lifestyle market, has recently celebrated the opening of their 150th store in the GCC region. In addition to that they have 15 stores in the broader MENA region and Nigeria which operate on a Franchise Model. Considering that ten years ago it had only 29 stores, trading under eight different brand names, that is a serious achievement. According to Redtag CEO Ernest Hosking, there is even quicker growth yet to come. “The business started in Bahrain in 1988 with an amalgamation of certain family businesses. 13 years ago, the business moved its headquarters here to the UAE. It traded really well, but as other brands opened in the region and malls were developed the retail market became more sophisticated and competitive. So we decided we needed to rebrand and reposition ourselves in the market.” In May 2006, the team took one of their Abu Dhabi stores and converted it with new shop fittings, new decor, new signage and a new name - and Redtag was born. Over the next four years, they looked closely at their product offerings, strengthened their teams, the supporting technology and processes and fine tuned it. Once they felt they had the right ‘recipe’, they started to expand at a much faster rate. In October 2013, they launched a second brand called Twenty4, targeting a slightly younger generation, which now has 24 branches across the GCC – also mainly in Saudi Arabia. “It’s the biggest market, the biggest population and has a high proportion of value-seeking consumers,” says Hosking. “So its a market that suits the business. In Saudi we are in all the major malls. In the UAE, the rentals in the premium malls are very high. For our model, with the low prices we offer, that doesn’t really work for


us. Originally we were mainly in standalone stores in the region. However as the malls have developed our expansion has been mainly in the malls. We will, however, still take stand-alone locations, especially in rural areas in Saudi Arabia.”

“IT’S THE BIGGEST MARKET, THE BIGGEST POPULATION AND HAS A HIGH PROPORTION OF VALUE-SEEKING CONSUMERS. SO ITS A MARKET THAT SUITS THE BUSINESS.” It’s been a busy 12 months for the brand. Not only have they continued their rapid expansion growth, but they have also rolled out a customer loyalty programme, called rtrewards, which is offered throughout the GCC, and they have been focusing heavily on developing their human capital. “When growing this fast, you are taking a lot of people on board and it’s easy to let the standards slip,” says Hosking. “So we have invested heavily in training and development, as well as coaching and mentoring programmes. We currently employ about 4,500 people across the region. We also support the nationalisation efforts - especially in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. We employ a high number of nationals including women in Saudi.. It became a government requirement but were ahead of the curve on that and we have stayed ahead of the curve.” There doesn’t seem to be any plan to slow down for the brand with another five RedTag stores and seven Twenty4 stores opening before the start of their new financial year in July. And while they continue to grow their market presence, they will be launching an online shopping portal.

“We have redeveloped our website,” explains Hosking. “It’s now capable of taking transactions, so it’s ready to go when we want to launch our online offering. At the same time, we are looking closely at the supply-chain element. If someone orders something online, they expect to receive exactly what they have ordered in the right specifications… you’ve got to meet those promises, those commitments. So we are doing a lot of work on the backend systems and processes to deliver on that challenge and move forward. We plan to start testing it in our next financial year – launching in the UAE first.” Not only that, but they have another two new brands in the pipeline, the first of which they will start testing in the upcoming financial year. Both will be in the value to mid-level sector, as that is where they have the most knowledge and experience. With their continued value sector expansion and two new brands under their belt, the company expects to have doubled their annual revenue in four years’ time, says Hosking. “A lot of people think value is just about price, but it’s not. Gone are the days when just price will sell. You have to have a good quality product at an affordable price in a comfortable shopping environment to ensure you exceed your customers’expectations. The exciting part is that we know we have not overcome all the challenges in our pursuit of excellence…, there are new and improved processes being implemented – supported by enhanced technology. Specifically from a supply chain perspective – you need to get the right products, to the right place, at the right time to ensure your customers a rewarding shopping experience. So we have invested significantly in business improvement projects but we remain humble – knowing there is a long way to go. In retail you are never done.”

Ernest Hosking, CEO of RedTag.





Sun shines on MiccGreenTec Waseem Ashraf Qureshi, Director and CEO of MiccGreenTec, says the company is setting the stage for cheaper renewable energy.


ubai-based MiccGreenTec, a technology company involved in the research, development and manufacturing of solar power systems, is giving conventional fossil-fuel-powered systems a run for its money. Within just six years after launching, the company has made significant strides in gradually transforming the UAE’s energy market, while also attracting interests from other parts of the world. “Before we set up the company, solar power systems were only seen either in small gadgets or large-scale power plants. There was no one servicing the middle segment, which comprises houses, factories and the likes. MiccGreenTec was born out of a desire to provide sustainable energy solutions to this market,” said Waseem Ashraf Qureshi, Director and CEO of the company. Micc, which stands for Monitor Inverter Convertor Charger, is the core of MiccGreenTec’s technology. Qureshi said the company developed a control system that manages energy collected from the sun through solar panels. The system then converts that energy into an efficient form of electricity that can be used to power all types of household and industrial equipment from air conditioners and microwave ovens to refrigerators, and many others. Offering a practical and cheaper solution to energy concerns, the MiccGreenTec technology took three years to develop and was designed to allow customers to get the minimum payback period and maximum return on investment (ROI). MiccGreenTec’s core product comes at a time when the appeal of alternative energy sources is starting to gain some attraction across the UAE and the wider GCC region.


In Abu Dhabi, for example, the government aims to derive 7% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Dubai, on the other hand, recently raised its target for renewables in its overall energy mix, from 5% to 15% by 2030.

“BEFORE WE SET UP THE COMPANY, SOLAR POWER SYSTEMS WERE ONLY SEEN EITHER IN SMALL GADGETS OR LARGE-SCALE POWER PLANTS. THERE WAS NO ONE SERVICING THE MIDDLE SEGMENT, WHICH COMPRISES HOUSES, FACTORIES AND THE LIKES. MICCGREENTEC WAS BORN OUT OF A DESIRE TO PROVIDE SUSTAINABLE ENERGY SOLUTIONS TO THIS MARKET.” Projects developed MiccGreenTec mainly caters to the solar energy requirements of the private sector. In 2012, the company started marketing its proprietary technology and in May of the same year made its first sale, which was a desert safari camp in the UAE. “It was a green tourism project and the first ever desert camp in the country using solar power. It was a successful project and remains in operation and has been shortlisted for the Dubai green tourism award 2014,” said Qureshi. One of our project “a labour camp in Ajman” was awarded Solar Project of the Year by Middle-east Electricity 2015. In other parts of the UAE, the company also provided the technology to a camel farm, which uses solar energy to power water pumps for agricultural purposes; a 200-seat fine-dining restaurant in Ajman;

and a Dubai Municipality park in Al Lehbab. In addition, MiccGreenTec took a Dubai-based industrial factory off the grid and allowed it to get 100% of its energy needs from the sun. The MiccGreenTec factory, located in Al Qusais, has the largest solar rooftop panel installed by any any private establishment in the UAE. Soon, the company will also extend its services to sign boards across Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. Outside the country, the technology firm is very active in Pakistan, where it has helped provide renewable energy to a school, a four-bedroom villa, a commercial office and motorway toll gates. In India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Philippines, MiccGreenTec has been involved in providing solar power to popular public transport vehicles. Automobiles and air conditioners Qureshi said the automobile industry is another growth potential for them. By installing solar panels on petrol stations with a dedicated charging point, MiccGreenTec can accommodate the power needs of electric cars. “We developed a super-capacitor (super-cap) battery capable of charging an electric car within 16 seconds. This addresses the problem with electric cars, where after the vehicle has run for around 300 kilometres, it takes about eight hours for it to be fully charged,” he said. With the super-cap battery, charging an electric car requires about the same time it takes to fill up an ordinary car’s fuel tank, Qureshi added. This technology is expected to be launched in the UAE in April 2015. In addition, the company has conducted extensive research on developing so-

Waseem Ashraf Qureshi, Director and CEO of MiccGreenTec.

lar-powered air-conditioning units. The project, which will also be launched soon, is expected to be a welcome treat in a region such as the Middle East. “Around 80% of electricity consumption in the world goes to either heating or cooling rooms and water. So we developed an air-conditioning technology that is much more energy efficient than traditional air-conditioners,” he said.

offices in Pakistan, India, Ghana, Angola, Denmark and the United States to meet the ever-increasing interest for the technology it provides. “We’ve also been invited by the Government of Greenland to set up a pilot project, which involves providing solar and wind power to a village,” Qureshi said.

Triple-digit growth

Starting a renewable energy business from scratch, however, was not without its pitfalls. The main challenge during the early days of MiccGreenTec, according to its CEO, was changing customers’ mind set about the viability and cost-effectiveness of alternative energy. “People thought that solar energy can only power light bulbs. But as soon as we had a sustainable proof of concept – that the technology is capable of powering an entire facility solely on solar energy –

A trained electronics engineer with an extensive professional experience in the telecommunications industry, Qureshi is at the helm of a niche yet fast-growing company. Since opening its doors to renewables in 2009, MiccGreenTec has posted triple-digit growth, prompting it to move most of the manufacturing activity from Dubai to its other factory in Guangzhou, China. It has

Nurturing a paradigm shift

then customers were more willing to explore its potential for their own needs,” he said. In the past three years that the company has been offering its technology to the private sector, it has not received any warranty claim, which is a further testament to the efficiency of its product. Convincing financial institutions to provide funding for its system was another issue that MiccGreenTec was able to successfully overcome. “Solar is a capital-intensive proposition and people are not usually keen on the idea of paying three-years’ worth of diesel bill to acquire a solar power system. “But financiers saw that our technology works and is based on extensive research. So we were able to get financing for two of our projects, which also boosted our sales,” he concluded.


Viessmann warms up to the Middle East Booming hotel and hospital sectors have driven regional demand for water heating & steam systems, says R. Praveen Kumar, Sales Director of Viessmann Middle East FZE.


or Viessmann, a global heating systems manufacturer, the Middle East may be an unconventional market, where the desert climate naturally attracts a huge need for air conditioning units. But the region’s booming hospitality and healthcare sectors have been fuelling the German company’s growth in Middle East since 2007. Demand for water heating system in the region has surged in the past decade as it saw an increased number of hotels and hospitals. The region, according to STR Global, is the fastest growing region in the world in terms of hotel rooms under contract in a study involving 13 countries. A strong focus by governments to develop medical infrastructure has also resulted in the construction of additional hospitals, clinics and medical centres. All these developments have benefited Viessmann’s Middle East operations, said R. Praveen Kumar, Sales Director of Viessmann Middle East FZE. “We have seen solid growth over the past eight years. Our team is expanding and so are our network of distributors and partners across the region.” From its regional head office in Dubai’s Silicon Oasis, Viessmann oversees a 21-country operation that spans across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as well as the Indian subcontinent. The company offers centralised hot water systems, hot water boilers, steam boilers, hot water cylinders, solar thermal systems and heat pumps – with heat capacity ranging from 1.5 kilowatts to 120 megawatts – and has also provided heat storage capacity for district heating plants. Harnessing the power of the sun In the Middle East, Kumar said Viessmann is keen on exploring the potential of solar water heating systems, which are deemed economical, sustainable and environmentally friendly. Solar water heating systems


uses solar panels to collect heat from the sun and use it to warm water, which is stored in a hot water cylinder. A boiler or immersion heater are used as a back-up to heat the water further to reach a desired temperature. “Solar is a renewable source of energy and the Middle East has an abundant supply of it, which makes the region a viable market for solar water heating systems. Solar is a big segment of our business. In Germany, Viessmann has a 50% regional market share in solar water heating and we’re bringing that expertise into the region,” he said.” Kumar added that energy efficiency and high performance are the hallmarks of Viessmann products. “Most conventional boilers would have an operating efficiency ratio of around 89%, but our products such as the gas-fired condensing boiler, for example, can deliver up to 109% efficiency.

Unfazed by competition Kumar said Viessmann is unfazed by competition because unlike their peers, they exclusively manufacture all the components that go into their products, including the controls, allowing it to monitor all aspects of the quality and production process. “I believe this is one of Viessmann’s main USPs. We have a complete range of products that we develop under one brand name. We are not reliant on other suppliers to provide the parts that will comprise the products we offer to the market.” Quality control is also important for Viessmann. As a result, all the products they sell to the Middle East and other regions worldwide are produced in their European manufacturing facility, as they remain true to the quality standards observed by Viessmann for nearly 100 years.

R. Praveen Kumar, Sales Director of Viessmann Middle East FZE.

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A united front against counterfeits Following one of the UAE’s biggest counterfeit raids against an automobile spare parts company, experts from the Department of Economic Development and Al Shaali & Co shed light on how they work together to tackle fraud.

Malek Khalifeh

Partner / Director of the Intellectual Property Division Al Shaali & Co Advocates & Legal Consultants With a strong background in anti-counterfeit law, Khalifeh opened his own lP Division in Dubai 10 years ago. In early 2005, he teamed up with Mr. Salem Al Shaali to create the IP Division at Al Shaali & Co, Advocates & Legal Consultants with one department dedicated solely to intellectual property. Since then it has expanded to reach many countries of the Arab world, such as Jordan, Algeria, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Morocco, Tunis, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait as well as co-operating with another anti-counterfeiting service provider in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, Al Shaali & Co is looking to establish branches in Turkey and Iran to become the leading regional IP law firm. They currently have powers of attorney from 116 brands, including many top world brands and represent 80 per cent of Swiss-made watches brands. On average, the company carries out one raid on counterfeit goods per day. Talking about the combined efforts of his legal team and the Department of Economic Development, Khalifeh says, “The first side of the business between Al Shaali Group and the DED is the trademark infringement, which relates to UAE Trademarks Law and anything that has to do with the infringement against a registered

trademark for any international companies as well as counterfeits.” The second way that the legal teams work with authorities is by providing them with information on targets that are dealing with counterfeit products in the Dubai Markets. He says, “Our field researchers visit the market place and industrial zones to watch the activity of the traders. If they inspect any counterfeit products, they make an official written complaint with power of attorney and trademark registrations.” The third initiative is the annual training for the inspectors of the Economical Department on how to identify counterfeit products from the genuine ones. The fourth is focused on educating customers and traders in order to improve co-operation between the trademark owner, the legal representer of the brand, and the DED. The war against counterfeits is not just about protecting consumers and brands, says Khalifeh, but about the reputation of Dubai. He says, “If tourists seeking high end quality products end up buying counterfeit products, this will decrease the number of tourists visiting Dubai. Additionally, if during the six months of the Expo 2020, Dubai’s counterfeit trade is booming, international companies will struggle to understand why they should focus on a city that allows counterfeit products.”

Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah

Executive Director, Commercial Compliance & Consumer Protection Sector Department of Economic Development Working within the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Sector of the DED, Lootah and his teams deal with everything from checking warehouses to enabling lawyers to filing new cases. He says, “Our division inspects large warehouses on a daily basis, moves products that total millions of dirhams, store counterfeit products and deal with destroying these products.” Because the cases are administrative, Lootah and his team deal with legal procedures rather than court battles. DED administrative cases usually last two weeks from the time a complaint is filed from the Law Firm till the time the case is closed and the products are destroyed, which make the issue of filing adminis-


trative cases with the DED fast and efficient. In an effort to speed up the procedures, Lootah’s department is currently working on creating an online system, whereby lawyers can report cases remotely, rather than having to go to the DED offices to file the case. A secondary initiative is focusing on educating consumers and the community in a bid to dampen the appeal of fake goods. He explains, “Our main mission is to cooperate with strategic partners in order to raise customer awareness. If the counterfeit companies don’t find buyers as a result of these steps, then automatically they will not sell their products.”

Ibrahim Ahmad Behzad, Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah and Malek Khalifeh.

Ibrahim Ahmad Behzad

Senior Manager, Intellectual Property Rights Protection Section Department of Economic Development In the war against fraud, it truly is a team effort between the authorities and the legal experts, says Behzad. “Whether we are informed by Al Shaali Group about a violation or we, the Department of Economic Development, monitor and discover these contraventions, Al Shaali Group provides us with technicians, specialists and legal experts who are present with us in the field at all times. In addition to this the group keeps us updated with all that is new in the world of fraud.”

Behzad commends Dubai’s success in fighting counterfeits, pointing to the international recognition the emirate has received in this field. In the year 2013, Dubai was selected by Aamal - a council for the owners of trademarks - as the best country in the GCC with regards to trademark protection, while the International Trademark Association (INTA) in the USA said that UAE is among the leading countries in anti counterfeiting. “We are insisting on maintaing this approach,” said Behzad.


Care For Sight: Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai Specialised and expert ophthalmic care along with a dynamic team contributes to Moorfields’ success, says Mariano Gonzalez, Managing Director.


ounded in the early 1800s, Moorfields Eye Hospital has taken a unique approach to eye care by bringing over 200 years of expertise from the United Kingdom to the Middle East region and opening its first international hospital. Founded in 2007, Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai aims to be the finest eye hospital in the Middle East caring for every individual patient with openness and respect, whilst supporting professional medical education and research programmes in the UAE. Mission & Expertise Operating to the same high clinical standards as the London hospital, Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai provides a comprehensive range of ophthalmic services in a professional and friendly environment with a clear focus on patient care. Mariano Gonzalez, Managing Director of Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, says: “Each patient comes with a different set of needs and it is important to care for our patients individually, along with the provision of high quality service.� Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai provides day-case surgeries and outpatient diagnostic and treatment services for most surgical and non-surgical eye conditions, from basic screenings to complex eye surgeries, including retinal surgery, diabetic eye treatment, the latest laser refractive surgical techniques, and oculoplastics (plastic surgery around the eye). The Hospital prides itself on providing world-class services for conditions such as Uveitis, retinal disease, glaucoma (including paediatric glaucoma) cataracts, corneal grafts, diabetic retinopathy, and paediatric oph-


Mariano Gonzalez, Managing Director of Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai.

thalmology problems including congenital cataracts, amblyopia and strabismus. Moorfields has an expert team of ophthalmic professionals, each of which has a distinctive area of specialisation. Many of the ten consultants undertook their training at Moorfields London and almost all are permanently based in the Middle East to ensure the quality and consistency of patient care and follow-up. Moorfields also has the latest technology and was among the first private hospitals in the Middle East to invest in the new Schwind Amaris 750S for laser refractive surgery, which provides improved performance for patients in terms of speed, precision, safety and comfort, and often allowing faster visual recovery. Challenges & Milestones Mariano Gonzalez explains that there were several key concerns when considering international expansion and initiation of the first Moorfields hospital

outside the UK. The location decision was influenced by factors including how best to create access for patients, enable the creation of world-class facilities and recruitment of expert professionals, all within a regulatory framework ensuring the highest standards of clinical governance. Dubai Healthcare City provided the ideal infrastructure solutions, under the direction and leadership of the chairperson of Dubai Healthcare City Authority, Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein. Moorfields actively supports DHCC, helping to attract new recognised healthcare partners to the community whilst positioning and projecting DHCC as a major global destination for healthcare tourism. Further, the relationship with DHCC has evolved into a true partnership, as Moorfields collaborates with DHCC in the critical areas of research and teaching, through an MOU with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Centre.

Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai.

Ophthalmology and new services to Middle East

Expansion & Services Gonzalez acknowledges Dubai’s position as the ideal healthcare location as it is the preferred destination for many patients from GCC countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar; patients from more than 90 countries have visited Moorfields for treatment within just the first 5 years of its inception. Dubai has also provided a platform for further growth and expansion, focusing initially on the UAE. Moorfields and United Eastern Medical Services (UEMedical), Abu Dhabi which is a leading private healthcare development and investment company, have signed a partnership agreement to establish Moorfields Eye Centre (MEC) which will open in mid-2015 to bring Moorfields services closer to the community in Abu Dhabi whilst extending and expanding services in Dubai. Expanding services includes meeting the challenge of diabetes in the UAE and wider region.


Specializing in the core areas of ophthalmic treatment, especially diabetic retinopathy, Gonzalez emphasised that a significant proportion of their patients are diabetic and added that care requires both medical treatment and preventive solutions. Many patients prefer to come to Moorfields for a specialist consultation. “Concern, care and comfort for our patients are a priority,” says Gonzalez.

The UAE provides an excellent regulatory framework that supports the provision of high standards of healthcare and Dubai has established itself as a globally recognised centre for healthcare excellence and as a medical tourism hub. Ophthalmology is one of the service priorities for Dubai Medical Tourism and Moorfields is an active partner in collaboration, in areas such as research and medical education. Moorfields serves the region as a secondary and a tertiary care provider in addition to its primary care services. Training, teaching and research are all integral parts of the hospital’s mission to help raise standards of professional eye care in the region. Gonzalez adds that Moorfields is now looking forward to future collaborations and expects further expansion of their clinical services in the UAE and beyond.


NewBridge continues to bridge innovation from west to east Joe W. Henein, President and CEO of NewBridge Pharmaceuticals, says bringing specialty medicines to the region will remain their key focus.


ubai-based specialty therapeutics company NewBridge Pharmaceuticals may have only been around for less than a decade, but it has already made significant contribution to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s Pharmaceutical ecosystem. “We look at ways to bridge the access gap; to bring innovative therapeutics, diagnostics and genomic testing from the West to address the region’s unmet medical needs,” said Joe Henein, President and CEO of NewBridge Pharmaceuticals. This exper- tise bodes well in a region that is dealing with an increasing prevalence of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The company, which was practically founded in 2010, has been responsible for delivering to the region some of the world’s most revolutionary medications, diagnostics and supportive care products which are approved in the UAE such as Abstral®, a fast-acting sublingual tablet for treating pain in cancer patients; Cimzia which treats rheumatoid arthritis; Neupro®, a patch used to treat signs and symptoms of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease; Halaven® for patients with metastatic breast cancer, and Oncotype DX® a diagnostic for patients with early-stage breast cancer. We are also in the process of introducing Lacosamide, a treatment as adjunctive therapy for partial onset seizures in Epilepsy. NewBridge was able to respond to this critical demand in the pharmaceuticals industry by specializing in the in-licensing, acquisition, registration, and commercialization of therapeutics and diagnostics. “We will definitely continue to be aggressive with our in-licensing efforts because many of the innovations today come from small- and mid-size companies that are not present here. These firms find us as


Joe W. Henein, President and CEO of NewBridge Pharmaceuticals.

a good vehicle to introduce their product into the region,” Henein confirmed. Attracting high-profile investors NewBridge’s unique business model and strict adherence to a corporate integrity policy have offered a compelling value proposition to international investors such as Burrill Life Sciences Capital Fund III and Perrigo Company, as well as regional financiers like the Kuwait Life Sciences Company. While the company has undoubtedly gained some traction in convincing regional investors, Henein admitted that more needs to be done to lure additional GCC investors to its shores. “Healthcare investing has different meanings to different investors. For example, some investors like acquiring tangible assets such as hospitals, clinics or manufacturing plants; while others prefer acquiring intellectual property (IP),” Henein explained.

“I believe our model has proven more appealing to European and US investors. But local investors are also starting to pay attention and are keen to explore the value of our company.” NewBridge, which covers many of the 22 countries in the MENA region, is currently very close to securing a fresh round of investment from a major sovereign fund. The future of the company, according to Henein – who has over 30 years of experience in global and regional pharmaceutical industry – will focus on continuing efforts to bring innovative medicines to the region to mainly address prevalent diseases or improve quality of life for many of the regional patients who will be in need of these medicines, strengthening its reputation in the MENA pharmaceuticals market, and attracting more high-profile regional investors. “We like to have more participation from the GCC investors because NewBridge has put down roots here,” Henein said.

Lilly goes beyond diabetes treatment Education and tailor made solutions play a key role in advancing patient care in the Middle East region, says Huzur Devletsah, Managing Director-Middle East of Lilly.


or nearly 140 years, global pharmaceutical company Lilly, has been providing innovative medicines for the treatment of chronic diseases. For the company that made available the first commercial insulin back in 1923, diabetes is a focus area in the Middle East region, according to Huzur Devletsah, the company’s Managing Director for the Middle East. That comes as no surprise. The region has a high incidence of diabetes, especially in the young population (20-39 of age) and the burden of the disease is high on the patients, caregivers and healthcare providers. Moreover, the development of the healthcare sector and the favourable environment that encourages innovation, especially in the GCC, make pharmaceutical companies eager to invest in the region. “We see a great potential for our company to make a difference in bringing innovative solutions to the Middle East region. We have a rich portfolio and a promising diabetes pipeline” Devletsah said. However, Lilly’s approach is to expand its contribution beyond the treatment as it believes that in order to make a significant impact, more attention must be placed on helping healthcare professionals, patients and caregivers deal with the burden of diabetes. “We aim to make available Lilly’s innovative treatments in the region as early as possible, but we do also know that helping patients understand and control their disease is as important as the treatment itself” Devletsah said. Tailor made programs for the GCC Achieving better diabetes care requires the collaborative effort of all stakeholders – from governments and health authorities, to pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers and patients. “In 2012 Lilly has initi-

ated a three-year education programme for doctors, developed through a first of a kind collaboration between the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and the Gulf Group for the Study of Diabetes”. The programme was renewed for another term and Lilly expects 600 primary care physicians to be trained under this initiative. Lilly is also expanding its support for better education for doctors treating type 1 diabetes that affects children and adolescents and is in this respect supporting a three year collaboration between the International Society of Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD) and the Arab Society for Pediatric Endocrinoloy and Diabetes (ASPED) starting 2015. “The Diabetes Conversation Map©” (DCM) tool, created by Healthy Interactions, a healthcare education provider, in collaboration with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and sponsored by Lilly has been endorsed by health authorities across the region, and has benefitted over 2,500 patients to date.

Huzur Devletsah, Managing Director, Middle East of Lilly.

topics that are most relevant to the participants. Hearing the challenges and successes of other participants allows people living with diabetes to recognize they are not on this journey alone and can build confidence and ownership of their diabetes management. To meet the region’s specific needs, a customized conversation map has been created in collaboration with the IDF to educate patients on how to manage diabetes during Ramadan – a critical concern for patients and healthcare providers.

The “Managing Diabetes during Ramadan” Conversation Map.

In the coming years, Devletsah said Lilly will remain steadfast in its commitment to bring innovative treatments to the region.

The Diabetes Conversation Map tool is a conversation forum that promotes discussions between patients and trained facilitators around diabetes related topics. The group setting and interactive discussion provide the flexibility to discuss the

“Our strategy is to develop additional collaborations and partnerships in the public and private sectors and to continue empowering our organization so we can better serve our customers across the Middle East region,” she said.


Urban Seclusion – an Al Barari model Unique landscapes, botanical gardens and the space to simply breathe it all in characterize Al Barari. CEO Mohammed Bin Zaal shares that such value creation is at the heart of his firm‘s green philosophy.


midst the royal enclave of Nad Al Sheba and 10km away from the downtown hustle and bustle lies Dubai’s greenest development. Al Barari, the pioneering firm established in 2005 by the Zaal family boasts a generous 18.42 million sq. feet estate, 80% of which has been exclusively devoted to lush landscape and gardens. With its unique selling point as Dubai’s lowest density urban development Al Barari’s eco-concious living lavishly blurs the distinction between interior and exterior. According to the Zaals, the core concept is about bringing people back to the natural environment. Thus Al Barari, the Arabic term for wildnerness, is not only a philosophy but a viable model executed through vibrant themed gardens, flowing streams and endless stretches of walking paths. Charmingly planned out, the secluded desert oasis is a concious effort to offer an environmentally-driven alternative to its peers in the local real estate market.

units and build around the gardens and landscape. We don‘t need a bigger market in Dubai. The current market can absorb what we are offering,” explains Bin Zaal. At 100% occupancy, phase one is made up of The Residences and The Reserve, totalling 217 villas featuring vast plot sizes and unique features. The Residences’ 189 villas sprawl upwards of 12,700 sq. ft. attracting a diverse crowd to whom the AED 15 million price tag is worth the abundance of greenery. “Giving people more space is at the heart of our plans. There‘s also demand to introduce more natural elements, the garden – a luxury given that we are in the desert. They want peace of mind, tranquillity, and quiet. A family home essentially.”


Another subsequent 28 villas in phase one not only offer generous plots, but an element of bespoke. The Reserve pushes boundaries, offering shell and core units on plots ranging from 14, 000 - 75, 000 sq. ft. The concept gives homeowners freedom to customize their dream home, with the option to select their contractor of choice. Ultimately 90% of buyers chose to collaborate with Al Barari‘s sister companies Sustainable Builders and Etcetera Living to complete fit-out. “By opting for shell and core, we were giving people what they wanted. Before they could be homeowners, but the details that made it their own were not available. With The Reserve every single villa is individually designed – from the layout to the materials. Each has been a personal experience for the residents,” comments the CEO.

Over the past ten years Al Barari has grown with a sustainable approach to projects – measuring demand and unveiling grand plans in line with their low density mantra. “We don‘t build thousands of units. Instead we go for fewer numbers – less

Al Barari released its preliminary projects for phase two in early 2014 with overwhelming response. Seventh Heaven, a 157 unit collection of sky villas, garden homes, penthouses and duplexes ranging from one to four bedrooms sold out in 48


hours. Equally grandeur Ashjar, scooped up the “Future Residential Project” award at Cityscape 2014. Both projects allude to Al Barari’s newest chapter as it prepares to welcome a new kind of homebuyer. “With this second wave of development, the city is really coming into its own. It‘s no longer just about attracting people to visit Dubai, but offering something different to its residents. We‘re not just a commercial hub, but a hub for families. Naturally this affects the quality of home design – they want a home they can live in for many years, which can grow with them and even be passed down to their kids.”

“WHEN YOU DRIVE ALONG THE ROAD INTO AL BARARI YOU SEE A SIGN THAT SAYS WELCOME HOME. WE WANT PEOPLE TO HAVE THAT SENSE OF PEACE, TRANQUILLITY AND BEAUTY IN THEIR LIVES. I MYSELF LIVE HERE AND I GENUINELY FEEL IT, WHICH IS WHY I DO WHAT I DO.” Although Al Barari believes it has redefined luxury in Dubai, the developer has proven that its sprawling estates do not prioritize sustainability alone, but a combination of luxury and sustainability. The company strives to not only minimize its local footprint, but enhance and restore the landscape. The ambitious wilderness project uses recycled, chemical-free water, utilizing reed beds for natural filtration. The 1,800 species of plants on the property also contributed to creating a micro-climate, as den-

Mohammed Bin Zaal, CEO of Al Barari.

sity packed foliage contributed to shading and reduced evaporation. “We‘ve actually had to use less water, and have managed to achieve temperatures 2–5 degrees lower than anywhere in Dubai. It‘s truly been amazing to see how the environment here has flourished. We‘ve even attracted animals and birdlife to the location. It‘s a system that feeds off itself, and a model that should be implemented more.”

With an unmistakable passion for ecoliving, the Zaals envision developing more intimate, serene communities. Currently, the future of the site involves building up existing residential projects with community amenities while also expanding into hospitality, retail and F&B. “I want Al Barari to be a destination, where people who live in the city can come

and enjoy their weekends. Our vision is that they can enjoy shopping, the theatre and so on, surrounded by a beautiful environment, roll out a blanket afterward and have a picnic in the gardens. We‘re encouraging these kinds of experiences and interactions within the community. It‘s now time for us to create what we call the heart of Al Barari, and we‘re putting all of our abilities into creating something special.”


Creating a RVS fashion legacy When you have the world’s largest collection of fabrics, and the passion and vision of Rajesh Sajnani, CEO of RVS Group, rolling out a fashion label comes to you naturally.


t is an exciting time for the esteemed RVS Group as it celebrates its’ glorious 25th anniversary this year. The fashion conglomerate recently launched their new label, Fifth Season London, and is gearing up for further expansion with franchise stores and an online shopping platform.

From a humble start back in 1989 of Textile Wholesale with RAJESH Trading Co. LLC, RVS Group has evolved into 13 business units and a masterful team of designers to become world’s first fully integrated fashion company. “All these businesses came out of compulsion rather than a necessity and they complement one another. I started with a capital of US$10,000, without support and any staff. It was a one man-show. I worked hard and focused on the products and customer service, until we grew and became leaders.” Supplying to the world Being a highly capital-intensive industry, over 2 decades in the textiles business was just about enough time for Mr. Sajnani to build an empire of fabric brands and understand what the market exactly wants. “The textiles industry is one of the most glamourous yet most challenging industries,” he says. “It’s also amongst the oldest and most unorganized sectors; we buy goods on cash and sell them on credit, and that could take several months. These are inherent weaknesses in the industry,” he explains. Moreover, because it is an easily learnt business requiring hardly any qualifications, the market has become oversaturated and highly competitive, at a time when more women are opting for readyto-wear. However, with a substantial inventory in place, the group continued to


design and produce their own textiles and sell wholesale, offering an astonishingly broad range of prices that started from US$1 up to US$1000 per metre. More than 2,500 retailers worldwide currently rely on RVS Group for their textiles, and almost every high-end textile shop in the region is their customer, but being the traditional and buyer-centric industry it is, there was “little room for innovation and expansion”, according to Mr. Sajnani. Moving front-end The turning point came in 2004, when the group stepped into the fashion arena, using its own fabrics that it sources from across the world, be it Swiss voiles, French laces, Embroideries and finest Silks from Italy, South Korea, India and China. “I was in love with the fabrics and the way they were tailored, I wanted to create the garments and see my dresses ultimately on the customers. Normally when you supply the fabrics, you don’t see the dresses. It goes through many circles from the time people actually buy the fabric to when they wear it. We had the idea, so we set up our boutique – Si Fashion Galerie – in Jumeirah.” The boutique brought together fabrics and kaftans, couture dresses and Pret-aporter, and even accessories, jewellery, and shoes. If you don’t like what’s ready, we have our designers in store who help you choose the fabric, sketch the design and make it for you.” “We give good value, we make what customers want in their budget and still make good profit and since we have inhouse capabilities, we can provide that. I would rather make 20 customers happy than sell to one,” says Mr. Sajnani, who recently fulfilled a long-cherished dream

by enrolling in Harvard Business School’s Owners/President Management program. Indeed, consumers have become smarter and try to spend their money wisely, and “when they can get the same piece for 2,000 why should they spend 10,000?” The temptation is even stronger given the selection on offer. “If you see it at Rajesh Trading, you will not find it anywhere else in the world. Our designs are original and ahead of the trend. Every piece and roll; the colour in every leaf and flower is created by us.” He recalls creating animal skin print on silk in 1992, before anybody else had. Not only that, Rajesh Trading as well as Si Fashion Galerie are now ISO 9001:2008 certified – probably the first ever fabric and fashion companies to have done so in this region. It’s no wonder Mr. Sajnani keeps a tight lid over the entire process, which is completed in-house, soon to move to the Dubai Design District – famously known as the D3. The protection of intellectual property means that nothing is outsourced, even graphic design and marketing activities. “Ideas can leak,” he stresses, “and when you’re working on a new brand or concept, it takes a lot of time and the fashion business is very fast moving.” Fifth Season London It was only a matter of time before the Indian-born CEO took his group to the next level; an ambition that manifested into Fifth Season London, an affordable couture club wear brand, with everything priced under US$300. While it would typically require around two years creating a brand from concept to final show, RVS Group managed to bring their collection to life and launch it in a

“ALL THESE BUSINESSES CAME OUT OF COMPULSION RATHER THAN A NECESSITY AND THEY COMPLEMENT ONE ANOTHER. I STARTED WITH A CAPITAL OF US$10,000, WITHOUT SUPPORT AND ANY STAFF. IT WAS A ONE MAN-SHOW. I WORKED HARD AND FOCUSED ON THE PRODUCTS AND CUSTOMER SERVICE, UNTIL WE GREW AND BECAME LEADERS.” span of 21 days, in time for the ‘Pure London’ ( Fifth-Season-London-1) show in London. “In those three weeks I worked extremely hard and felt 20 years younger, but when you become too managerial, you’ll just be working on strategies from your chair. I couldn’t delegate at that time, because everything was in my head and there was no chance for errors,” says Mr. Sajnani. “The response has been amazing,” he adds. “Fifth Season London is the season of glamour; a woman wants to look glamourous throughout the year, every day.” Initially, the brand will be available within boutiques and department stores, but the plan is to eventually open independent, stand-alone stores and sell them as franchises. At the same time, efforts are ongoing to set up an online store, through which customers can choose ready wear clothes, or browse fabrics and colours, before adding in their measurements. A designer then sends them the sketches and once approved, the order is shipped. “We’re now working on a new project never done before. We’re attempting to put all our fabric collection online and checking out the photography technology to see how we can bring out the real texture and colour of the fabrics in the pictures”. In the mid-term, Mr. Sajnani aspires to make fashion the major chunk of the group, keeping the textiles business at the same volume. This, he intends to do through an increased online as well as physical presence, by taking the number of their stores in the UAE from five to 15, and expanding internationally. “We will franchise worldwide once we perfect the formula here. We want to make RVS Group the most iconic fashion house in the world and leave a legacy behind.”

Rajesh Sajnani, CEO of RVS Group.


Ras Al Khaimah is a businessfriendly investment centre RAK Free Trade Zone has turned the spotlight on Ras Al Khaimah’s growing economic potential, says Acting CEO Ramy Jallad.


ver the past 15 years, the Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ) has been steadily building the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah’s profile as one of the most viable business hubs in the Middle East. And its efforts are paying off. Today, the northern emirate is basking in economic glory. Latest available data showed that its GDP has ballooned by over 28% from AED24.1 billion (USD6.55bn) in 2012 to AED30.9bn (USD8.4bn) in 2013, while economic outlook by global credit rating agencies remains favourable. Ramy Jallad, Acting CEO of RAK FTZ, said supporting the emirate’s economic diversification plan has been the raison d’être behind the free zone’s creation in 2000, following an Emiri decree. “RAK FTZ was mandated to provide custom-made business solutions to aspiring entrepreneurs and expanding international companies. This year, RAK FTZ is poised to celebrate its 15th year of excellence as the oldest and largest special economic zone in RAK, and the second-largest free zone in the UAE,” he said. Home to more than 8,000 businesses from over 100 countries, and representing over 50 industry sectors, RAK FTZ has also diversified from its traditional focus on industrial manufacturing. Currently, it also supports trading, sales and marketing activities, as well as a wide range of service sectors, and logistics and distribution platforms. It likewise boasts an affiliate RAK Academic Free Zone, which hosts a wide variety of educational institutions and service providers. But what really sets RAK FTZ apart from other free zones in the UAE, said Jallad, is its cost-effectiveness. “RAK FTZ has substantially lower costs than free zones in other emirates, which allows clients to achieve greater return on in-


For example, the cost of renting facilities and land for development, procuring licences and providing housing for employees, along with other costs, is up to 50% less than it is at free zones elsewhere in the UAE.

In addition, Mazeed offers business support functions such as documentation, translation, attestation, as well as typing and printing services. “Our wide array of services allow investors to spend more time making their businesses grow rather than running from place to place to meet bureaucratic requirements,” the Acting CEO said.

One-stop-shop solution

Luring investors to its shores

RAK FTZ is cementing its image as one of the world’s most welcoming and efficient investment destinations by making it as easy as possible to set up a business in the UAE.

Within just four years, RAK FTZ was able to double its portfolio of international clients from more than 4,000 in 2011 to more than 8,000 currently. Apart from providing a tax-free environment and fast-track licensing and visa services, RAK FTZ attracts companies by offering a suite of business solutions that specifically address the needs of growing companies at each stage of their development.

vestment. It is simply more cost-effective, even while providing the same advantages as other free zones,” he said.

Among its benefits include 100% foreign ownership and world-class, ready-made facilities; award-winning and ongoing business set-up services; fast-track licensing and registration; investor and worker visa issuance; and freedom to source labour and materials globally. It also offers ongoing business support services such as advertising, procurement, event management, recruitment and training assistance for employees. Setting up a business within the free zone has never been more hassle-free. Investors can get their companies up and running without the need to leave their building as most transactions such as applying for Emirates IDs and getting documents notarised can be done in house, while payments for free zone services can be made with a credit card through the e-payment gateway. Underscoring the free zone’s full and ongoing business support, the Mazeed Services Desk provides marketing assistance to help investors get the word out about their companies so they can attract clients. Mazeed also offers human resources professionals, who can help business owners in the recruitment and training of staff.

The free zone comprises three specialised free zone parks: a Business Park for office clients; an Industrial Park for heavy manufacturing; and a Technology Park for trading and light manufacturing. The Business Park has flexi desks and flexi offices, which are shared work stations with phones and internet access that serve as low-cost business incubators to help companies get started. “As the company grows, there are a wide range of offices from shell and core to executive offices that offer space and equipment that can be adjusted to match any business needs, along with advanced IT/telecommunications infrastructure and access to modern corporate business centre services such as mail, courier services, a post office, etc., that can aid business growth. “There are also larger warehouses and land for development in the Industrial Park, so investors can build their own facilities


Ramy Jallad, Acting CEO of RAK Free Trade Zone.

such as labour accommodation. This allows business owners to save money and avoid the risk of transporting their work force. The Industrial Park also has easy access to sea ports, airports, and international superhighways reaching across the UAE and into other GCC countries,” explained Jallad. Robust outlook RAK FTZ continues to receive enquiries and demand from clients in almost every

industry sector worldwide. Most recently, it has attracted a cluster of more than 10 companies from the armoured vehicles industry, which lured related industry players, including manufacturers of armoured fire-fighting equipment, safety glass, protective garments and vests, security devices and equipment. The free zone is also developing a five-year strategic plan that will see the RAK Academic Free Zone become an international

hub for higher learning and academic research. In the near future, RAK FTZ will focus on back-office services, including IT, consultancies, services, call centres and outsourcing. Jallad emphasised that RAK FTZ will remain committed to providing cost- effective solutions for companies looking to set up shop and grow their business in Ras Al Khaimah.


Banking models should be simple to yield agility & efficiency Following four successful years as Group CEO of Burgan Bank, global banking expert Eduardo Eguren, shares his insight on efficient banking.


ollowing more than two successful decades in the world of global corporate, retail and commercial banking, including many leadership and senior roles across the four continents for Barclays and Citibank, Eduardo Eguren Joined Burgan Bank in Kuwait a little more than four years ago. With official figures showing that, in his time there, Burgan Bank has doubled its revenue from USD553 million in 2010 to USD926 million in 2014 and increased its underlying returns on equity to 18%, Eguren looks back over the decisions that he has made that he believes led to that success. First of all, says “Global Investor/ISF’s CEO of the Year-2013”, it is important to keep things simple. “We have an obsessive interest in remaining simple as it makes us more agile and efficient. Additionally, our team is unique and we always focus on good execution. So consistently applying these principles has allowed us to grow firmly. For four years we have beaten the market consistently both in growth and returns. So it seems like a formula we can apply going forward.” What does he mean by being simple? He explains, “Being simple implies not having too many direct reports and unnecessary layers, making sure that everyone has decision-making powers to manage their responsibilities and that the interests with each of them is intertwined with the interests of their colleagues. So you can not become territorial in the sense of thinking, ‘My business is OK. Your problem is yours.’” Although based in Kuwait, Burgan Bank has various subsidiaries in the region, including Turkey, Jordan, Algeria, Iraq and Tunis. According to Eguren, this


‘simple’ approach is applied to our subsidiaries too. “We do not micromanage them. Everyone who works in the subsidiaries is accountable. I meet with the CEOs once a quarter to see what problems we have to fix and to discuss how we can generate more revenues for the shareholders, rather than an army-style approach of command and control. In essence, the simplicity of the model is sticking to fundamentals, not driving or developing hobbies, and a focused approach to driving financial results.” The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to proven Eguren’s credentials as a powerhouse of banking efficiency. He believes that there were three major changes which he made at Burgan Bank, which led to his success. First of all, the optimization of capital management. He says, “Banks in the Gulf are not particularly efficient in using capital. In fact a lot of banks are over capitalized. So optimizing capital implies maximizing returns per share… We were the first bank launching bonds in Kuwaiti Dinars and other currencies. And we were the first commercial bank that, being non-government-owned, issues perpetual bonds in the region, and quite successfully. That brought us to the discipline of aligning management of capital by units, by business, by customer… that was an important change in the way we run our business.” The second milestone achievement was to define their risk model. According to Eguren, where as three or four years ago the percentage of non-performing assets stood at approximately 11 per cent, now it stands at three per cent and below. “Here in Kuwait we have very interesting statistics… For the last four years, there hasn’t been a single penny that we have lent to

any customer, new money lent, that gone bad. We have reduced the risk capital, and at the same time, grew faster, and pricing didn’t contract. So the risk model was an important achievement.” The third effective change, says Eguren, was updating the bank’s sales culture to be more proactive. He says, “In many of our competitors, there is an attitude of developing relationships and waiting for customers to call you. We turned this around… we go out, we look for business. We have been reasonably good in all three dimensions - origination, structure and closure of transactions. And if you do this, with lower risk and good pricing, then it is a no-brainer that your performance will improve as much as ours did.” Additionally, Eguren points to the stability of the management at Burgan Bank, which he believes helps grow loyalty and trust with customers. Interestingly, Eguren says that the subsidiaries are growing faster than their Kuwait-based business, as their economies are growing faster than Kuwait’s economy and this is the diversification benefits Burgan Bank Group offers to shareholders. He says, “When you develop an expansionary strategy, you have to look for two things and you have to meet both of them. First, they have to be attractive markets. Second, they have to be good deals for your shareholders. In essence, the attractiveness of the markets is driven by some thinking about how the business there will look in five to ten years, but also they have to be good accretive deals. Looking forward, we have already expressed our interest in going to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, as areas where we have been under-represented so far.”


Eduardo Eguren, Group CEO of Burgan Bank.


With milestone year end profits, UNB sets sights on higher growth targets With a track record of over 40 years, CEO of UNB Mohammad Nasr Abdeen is as dynamic and success-driven as the organization he has headed for well over a decade.


nion National Bank holds a strong position in the Gulf banking industry building a reputed name for itself regionally and iternationally. At it’s heart is the vision to be best in class in the banking industry in terms of customer and staff satisfaction and in providing returns to it’s shareholders. Since its establishment in 1982, UNB, the UAE‘s leading domestic bank has grown into a Group entity spread across the globe. A leading domestic player, UNB is the only bank jointly owned by the Governments of Abu Dhabi and Dubai under the guidance of H. H. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Culture, Youth & Community Development and UNB Chairman. The Group‘s subsidiaries include Union Brokerage Company (UBC), Al Wifaq Finance Company providing sharia’a compliant financial solutions and Injaz Marketing Management responsible for UNB Group‘s sales support. In the past two decades UNB has spread it‘s operations globally, in keeping with the Bank’s strategy to provide convenient banking services to its customers. UNB augmented its branch network by opening six new branches in the UAE and currently manages one of the largest branch networks in the country. Its extensive network includes 72 branches and over 250 ATMs throughout the UAE. “The UNB Group‘s focused approach in growing its business and franchise both locally in the UAE and in the selected markets regionally has led to the Group building on its momentum over the previous years to post a strong and consistent set of results,” remarked Abdeen.


The UNB Group has presence in the Middle East and North Africa region either directly or through its subsidiaries, with the total number of UNB Group branches exceeding 110. It opened branches in Kuwait and Doha‘s Qatar Financial Centre, joining the list of GCC lenders operating regionally. UNB will offer banking services for retail and corporate clients as well as ministries, and plans are under review to establish more geographic locations and strategic alliances. As part of the Bank’s vision, to be “a key player in the region”, UNB‘s expansion in Egypt continues to be a key focus. UNB acquired the Alexandria Commercial and Maritime Bank (ACMB) in 2006 and currently operates in the country with 32 branches and banking centres in Egypt. The bank’s plans include capitalising on opportunities presented by expanding economies, pioneering as the first bank from the UAE to open a representative office in Shanghai China. Investments in the areas of infrastructure, technology and people remain the foundation of the Group’s strategy to invest for the future, thus operating expenses in 2014 increased by 12% to AED 955 million from the following year. In 2014, UNB Group reported another year of record profit of AED 2,021 million, a 16% increase from the previous year. The last quarter alone accounted AED 436 million, up sharply by 42% compared to the same quarter of 2013. “The UNB Group surpassed a major profit milestone, with the Group’s profit for the full year exceeding AED 2.0 billion for the first time. The consistent growth in underlying business, focused strategy and our deep commitment to all our stakehol-

Mohammad Nasr Abdeen, CEO of UNB.

ders has ensured that the UNB Group continues to grow its business and franchise.” Abdeen added that “The Group over the last many years has continued to record remarkable progress and is presently particularly well poised to further build on its successes in the future”. Under the leadership of H.H. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UNB has been receiving consistently strong and stable credit ratings from three of the reputed rating agencies, namely Capital Intelligence, Fitch and Moody’s. It‘s year end 2014 the bank reported sound liquidity with loan to deposit ratio of 95.1%., and cost to income ratio of 27.3%, consistently amongst the best in the UAE banking sector.

Mohammad Nasr Abdeen, CEO of UNB.

“The Group remains on a solid footing as is evidenced by a calibrated increase in business, ample liquidity and strong capitalization levels. The asset quality continues to improve with the non-performing loans reducing both on an absolute basis as also relative to the gross loans, with the coverage being maintained at adequate levels.” “We are further committed to improving our award winning bank, focusing on creating robust management strategies for our team of more than 1800 employees who have generated significant financial returns for the UNB Group.”

“We’re committed to improving and developing overall customer service by motivating our staff to exceed customer expectations, create a strong customer service mindset across the bank and promote healthy competition based on Financial Performance and Service Quality within UNB branches.” This is in line with the bank’s strategy to excel in customer satisfaction & delivery. As part of its core positioning as the bank that cares, customer satisfaction is a key attribute that the bank focuses on.

Indeed the bank has notably recieved recognition for it’s efforts thus far, winning several accolades, most recently garnering the title of 2015 Superbrand by the UAE Superbrand Council. At the 11th International Business Awards UNB scooped up top honours recieving the Gold Stevie for Company of the Year – Banking, in addition to three silver Stevie awards in categories “Executive of the Year -Banking”, “Product Development of the Year” and “Customer Service Department of the Year” respectively.


Passion for excellence fuels Midcom’s stellar growth Midcom Group’s diversified investment strategy has made an impact on economies and communities in the Middle East and Africa, says Founder and Group Vice Chairman Anand Kapoor.


hen Anand Kapoor established Midcom in Uganda back in 1996, his long-term vision was to improve livelihoods in regions where the company operates and make a positive impact on communities through diversified investments – whether in education, real estate, manufacturing, or consumer electronics.

Kapoor added that their milk processing facility in Uganda, known as Pearl Dairy Farms, processes around 100 million litres of milk annually, which is then distributed in powder form. A major part of its production also goes to the chocolate, yogurt and ice cream industries. “Our investment in Uganda’s dairy industry was very well thought of – how the livelihood across the region would benefit from it. That made me get the raw product at the best price, and we take it back to the farmers to ensure their livelihood is enhanced,” explains the Indian-born Vice Chairman. Telecom distributorship

Such approach proved successful in achieving steady growth for the business conglomerate, which has an annual turnover of US$1.35 billion as of early 2015. Today, with nearly 5,000 employees, the firm is strategically positioned across a number of African and Middle Eastern markets through its regional headquarters in Dubai.

Like value-added industries, telecommunications is an ever-growing part of Midcom’s portfolio, thanks to a high smartphone adoption rate in Africa. As the sole distributor for handset giant Nokia (Microsoft) in the continent, Midcom plans to utilise its 11-year experience in the sector to strengthen its relationships with telecom operators.

“As a group, Midcom is diversified into multiple businesses. I made sure to diversify our interests from the beginning and never slowed down across all units,” highlights Kapoor, who, apart from being an entrepreneur, is also a noted philanthropist.

The group already supplies retailers through its distribution houses and has an agreement with Airtel Africa, which allows it to manage the telecom provider’s retail outlets and inventories. “We believe telecom is going to be one of the very strong pillars of economies, particularly in Africa, where there is a huge shift from feature phones to affordable smartphones. We also have distribution tieups in the Far East, and expect Saudi Arabia to contribute to this demand, being one of the largest markets for handsets.”

Saudi Arabia expansion In 2014, Midcom’s Dubai office celebrated its 10th anniversary. It is also the same year the company ventured into Saudi Arabia, the most populous country in the GCC region, as it anticipates the kingdom to play an important role in the group’s future activities. “Saudi Arabia represents a significant opportunity for us and will be among our focus markets for the next 1–2 years. We will be building on our strengths, exploring how value addition industries can be set up in the kingdom, and how our milk can be exported there, because food-wise, it is one of the largest consumer markets,” he said.



Consumer electronics

“Africa’s population is at an evolutionary stage, so expanding into consumer electronics was an obvious choice. Partnering with Samsung was an opportunity because it’s the world’s leading player in this category,” explains Kapoor.

Over the last two years, Midcom has also been supplying the Nigerian market with Samsung refrigerators, televisions and air conditioners from the country’s largest manufacturing plant for Samsung consumer electronics. Soon, the group hopes favourable tax treaties would open opportunities to supply to Ghana, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire.

He foresees this collaboration to be a billion-dollar business in the coming years. As a result, he recently appointed a chief executive officer to look after the group’s Samsung unit. “Samsung and Midcom are now looking at this partnership as an Africa-wide opportunity and we’re in talks with them on West Africa, East Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.”

“Everyone across the globe is looking at Africa as an opportunity; it’s a journey we need to be part of,” says Kapoor. At present, Midcom’s assets in the continent’s real estate sector include commercial and residential towers in Uganda and Kenya. In Dubai, meanwhile, the group has acquired a strategic land for development, and is currently assessing opportunities before moving forward. In the near-term, Kapoor stresses that education, manufacturing and value addition industries will be Midcom’s priorities. “We realised that investing in manufacturing processes in regions where there is an abundance of raw material substantially benefits the overall growth of an economy and in turn, reflects our company’s growth.” Benefitting economies

Anand Kapoor, Founder and Group Vice Chairman of Midcom.

Dubai’s Fashion and Design College Meanwhile, Midcom’s interest in education, which began with the largest international school in Uganda, is moving to the next level. The group is establishing a Fashion and Design College in Dubai Design District. The conglomerate aims to nurture successful graduates to write the country’s first success story on home grown labels. In Phase 1, the college will offer a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Fashion Business Management and a BA degree in Fashion Design, each of which will have four specialisations.

“It should be up and running by the fourth quarter of this year and we will start receiving applications by the third quarter,” reveals Kapoor, adding that the college will offer study-abroad programmes with leading fashion schools across the globe and will incorporate Islamic fashion into the syllabus – a unique aspect never attempted before. Property ventures When it comes to real estate, Midcom has selectively pursued investments in Africa, where demand has been growing for high-calibre housing and offices.

A heavy emphasis on socio-economic benefits has translated into numerous awards for Midcom over the years. Pearl Dairy Farms, for example, won the Investor of the Year Gold Award 2014 from the Ugandan Government for creating direct employment to 1,500 locals and dedicating about US$1 million to farmer capacity building. Similarly, Rainbow International School was among the top 100 mid-sized companies in Uganda for the third consecutive year in 2014. What might be less publicised, but equally important are Midcom’s social responsibility initiatives. Not only does the group regularly donate funds to underprivileged children in India and Africa, but it also sponsors the education of aspiring students through scholarships, in a bid to lift families out of poverty. “I started this business with lots of passion for growth and excellence; those were the two things that kept me going. I wasn’t looking for short-term gains,” concludes Kapoor. “Overall, it’s been a good journey.”


Cerner celebrates 25 years in the Middle East region Michael Pomerance, Vice President and Managing Director of Cerner Middle East & Africa, looks back on the company’s major success stories and sheds light on the ‘smart’ healthcare of the future.


t’s been a good start to the year for healthcare software leader, Cerner. Not only were they voted one of the most admired companies in the world by FORTUNE magazine’s annual industry poll, but they have successfully completed their acquisition of Siemens Health Services. In addition, Cerner celebrates 25 years of their regional arm, Cerner Middle East, this year working with more than 200 client sites in five countries. Cerner’s system takes care of everything from the minute the individual enters the care continuum, whether it’s a hospital/ clinic visit or an accident/emergency type of visit. Even at home, Cerner has a set of solutions for home health that enable physicians and nurses to stay in touch with their patients. Michael Pomerance, VP and MD of Cerner Middle East & Africa, says, “What sets us apart from our competition is that there are ot- her companies that collect and store data about patients, but at Cerner we strive to use data in a proactive way to instantly give the right information back to the clinicians at the right point in time in the care process so that they have more time to spend with their patients.” Pomerance believes that the future success of the company is down to the fact that they want to use the data they collect in a way which sets them apart from their competitors. “We have 50,000 users on our systems in the GCC and more than 10 million people have their health information stored in Cerner’s electronic health records. The question is, now what do we do with the patient information?”


Michael Pomerance, Vice President and Managing Director of Cerner Middle East & Africa.

Pomerance goes on to explain that Cerner is the only real integrated healthcare system in the region. He adds, “What normally happens when an individual goes to a hospital is they record information on one system. If the same person goes to a doctor’s office, they record information in a separate system so the patient ends up having his information stored in different locations.” With the Cerner system, all of the records are stored on the same system so it is more complete and easier for the patients. Additionally, when patients are at home, none of their data gets stored or linked into any system. To address this issue, Cerner has worked with its clients in the region to create an online patient portal. Earlier this year, the UAE Ministry of Health launched the first member portal in the Middle East that is fully integrated with the individual’s health record to allow direct communication with the Ministry’s healthcare providers, such as physicians and clinicians by residents of Dubai and Northern Emirates. According to Pomerance, the next phase is smart health care, whereby paper is a thing of the past, doctors communicate with devices directly and software monitors trends across the vast database of patient data to predict illnesses before symptoms arise. He says, “With early detection of

Sepsis, for example, we can save on mortality rate by about 30 per cent. This is why we are talking about being smarter. If all you are doing is collecting data, but you don’t do anything with it, it’s a waste.” Taking the concept of smart health one step further is the development of smart hospitals, the first of which is being built in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, where technology will recognise doctors entering patients’ rooms and monitor hand washing, amongst other things. Interestingly Cerner’s next phase will also see them looking at preventative health care. “It’s about proactive care, rather than reactive care,” says Pomerance. “Now that we have got all the data,, we can start predicting who is going to get sick. So we can give our clients algorithms to apply against their databases so they can foresee who will need care tomorrow, today.” It sounds almost futuristic – to be predicting illness before it has happened. But, as Pomerance points out, prevention is better than cure. He finishes, “Our goal is to use patient data to start changing the current trends in non-communicable diseases in the region. When we can do this, we’ve done a good job and we are fulfilling the mission we all came here to do.”

Emitac: Four decades in the UAE tech sector The key to the region’s ICT market is quality assurance, says Miguel Angel Villalonga, CEO of Emitac Enterprise Solutions.


fter 40 years of operations, technology solutions provider Emitac Group is an ingrained part of the UAE ICT sector. As Miguel Angel Villalonga, CEO of Emitac Enterprise Solutions, puts it, “Emitac started approximately the same year Etisalat started; We have witnessed a significant change in the regional IT landscape, and have grown and transformed with our customers, focusing on adding value in the biggest area of opportunity while ensuring our traditional exceptional care in customer satisfaction and service delivery capabilities.” Alongside the incumbent telecoms provider and other early UAE ICT players, Emitac was watching that landscape take shape many years before free zones such as Dubai Internet City started playing host to foreign multinationals. “In the beginning, it was about providing infrastructure because there was nothing,” said Villalonga. “But we have been able to continue working with the same customers year after year during this period. So as customers matured, we specialised our offerings. It has been a journey together with our customers.” The journey has been fruitful. Today, Emitac Group operates in sectors such as telecommunications and healthcare. Its Enterprise Solutions unit specialises in systems integration for corporate and government customers. “Services companies differentiate themselves through success stories and customer references,” said Villalonga. “New customers want to be assured of successful project delivery and our differentiation lies in the value we add to our customers through our people, who are our main asset. What sets us apart is our professional services capabilities and our understanding of customers’ needs that

Miguel Angel Villalonga, CEO of Emitac Enterprise Solutions.

derive from our long track record with our customer base.” Broad portfolio Emitac started its growth cycle by partnering with HP, giving the US giant its first taste of the UAE market and, for a number of years, acting as its exclusive agent in the region. But the systems integrator evolved over the years, to develop a broader portfolio adding consulting, project management or managed services to the traditional implementation and support services and further specialised in their “core competencies”, according to Villalonga. Competencies include data centre infrastructure, networking, IT Service Management, Applications Lifecycle Management, Business Intelligence or Business Process Management, unified communication and security, but Emitac also maintains a core area of business dedicated to Microsoft solutions. “Microsoft’s portfolio is different from other manufacturers,” Villalonga explained. “It provides software and cloud platforms for users both at the business level and the technology-platform level. So we developed a competency around the full set of solutions, from licensing, soft-

ware-asset management and infrastructure solutions all the way to business solutions, applications, workflow management and government services,” he adds. Emitac Enterprise Solutions business operates from the UAE and most of its projects are within the country, but it also consults on projects across the region, namely in Qatar. Focus on customers Villalonga, who has been at the helm of Emitac Enterprise Solutions for the past six years, said the company’s profile has also changed – from working very closely with vendors to focusing on solutions that are aligned with their clients’ needs. “After 40 years, the group is still in growth mode. Last year, we grew 20%, year-on-year, and we are hiring aggressively,” he said, attributing their success to customer confidence. “The current trends of technology (cloud, mobility, social and big data) will be here for the next few years, but that’s not the end of IT. Beyond this wave, there will be another. Our responsibility is to cope with these waves and make sure that we can offer the portfolio that customers will require at any point in time,” he concluded.


Aster DM Healthcare casts wider net Alisha Moopen, Director-Strategies of Aster DM Healthcare, talks about the company’s achievements and future growth plans.


ster DM Healthcare’s entry into the Middle East market may have happened by chance, but its success was a result of professional integrity, passion, commitment to excellence and a genuine dedication to provide the best quality healthcare to all members of the society. Since Chairman and Managing Director Dr. Azad Moopen established the company’s presence in the UAE 28 years ago, Aster DM Healthcare has grown substantially. The company has expanded to include more than 200 units comprising hospitals, health clinics and pharmacies across the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia. “It was meant to be a one- to two-year stint,” Alisha Moopen, Director-Strategies at Aster DM Healthcare, said, referring to her father’s initial plan of setting up a practice in Ajman, UAE in 1987 before returning to India. However, Dubai opened up new opportunities that allowed Dr. Moopen to offer his medical services and build Aster DM Healthcare’s success from the ground up. The company’s timing could not have been better. UAE’s population was growing rapidly as its economic activities gained momentum – a trend shared by other oil-rich nations in the Gulf region. The demand for quality healthcare services and products was on an uptrend and nearly three decades later, has shown no signs of letting up. Core philosophy Moopen said Aster DM Healthcare is guided by a set of principles that puts generating profit second only to providing quality care.


“From the very start, our collective goal in the organisation has always been to serve people who come to us with their own medical concerns. We want to be a trusted healthcare provider of choice,” she said.

“It was very important for us to reach out to as many people as possible. That’s the reason why we introduced our diffe- rent brands because we don’t want to be catering to just one segment of the population,” Moopen added. In a league of her own

“OUR MISSION STATEMENT IS ‘CARING MISSION WITH A GLOBAL VISION’, WHICH IS ABOUT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING DESIRE TO LOOK AFTER PEOPLE IN A MAJOR WAY – WITH HEART AND SOUL. I ENJOY BEING PART OF THIS WHOLE JOURNEY AND IT IS SOMETHING THAT I HAVE ADOPTED AS MY OWN MISSION AS WELL.” Casting a wider net, Aster DM Healthcare developed different healthcare facilities to cater to the needs of various market segments. For example, Access Clinic provides affordable and quality healthcare services to patients in the UAE; Aster Hospitals serve as general hospitals for high-end, secondary and tertiary care; Aster Medical Centres are neighbourhood family clinics that offer quality healthcare at an affordable cost; and Medcare Hospital, which is the premium healthcare arm of the company. In the UAE, the company has also opened Aster Aesthetic Clinic, which provides beauty treatments through trained experts. All of these are in addition to the growing network of Aster Pharmacies across the GCC.

At 33 years old, Moopen occupies a role that is pivotal in setting the future course of Aster DM Healthcare. After earning her Finance and Accounting degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in the United States, she moved to Ernst & Young’s office in England, where she worked for seven years. Qualifying as a chartered accountant, she also found the job at E&Y as a unique opportunity to understand various industries from manufacturing and services to automobiles. She joined Aster DM Healthcare in 2012. Asked whether her academic and professional experiences were geared towards preparing her for an important role in the company, she replied: “It was not really by design, but I’m not saying it was by default either.” “My main decision to return to the UAE was also to shadow my father to a large extent. He was somebody I look up to very much and I wanted to learn from him. I thought it was a great opportunity to be around him, learn from his leadership styles and his way of thinking. I believe most of his success is a by-product of the relationship he has built with people over the years. He’s able to see things on a much more macro level.” Being the daughter of the company’s chairman, Moopen, from a very young

Alisha Moopen, Director-Strategies of Aster DM Healthcare.

age, knew what the business is all about. But she said it was only after officially joining the organisation that she saw the bigger picture and the underlying principle behind Aster DM Healthcare. “Our mission statement is ‘caring mission with a global vision’, which is about an all-encompassing desire to look after people in a major way – with heart and soul. I enjoy being part of this whole journey and it is something that I have adopted as my own mission as well,” she said. Widening its footprint Nearly three decades after its foundation, Aster DM Healthcare is continuing with

its expansion plans. “Two years ago, we had a strategy session to discuss where we want to take the company in the long term. We took a view up to 2025, by then we want to have a more global footprint. We decided the steps we have to take and the regions we have to consider,” explained Moopen. Apart from its network of hospitals, medical centres, clinics and pharmacies in the UAE, the company has also opened healthcare facilities in Oman and Qatar. It also operates pharmacies in Kuwait, where it has a joint venture deal with an existing retail pharmacy chain. The company is also targeting the Jordanian mar-

ket for its pharmacy brand. “When it comes to the pharmaceutical business, it is not easy for any business to replicate something so quickly the way we have done so. We have mastered this strategy and scalability is one of our strengths. We were able to leverage on that and grow at a pace that we have right now,” Moopen said. Despite Aster DM Healthcare’s ascend and future growth plans, Moopen emphasised that their raison d’être has not been diluted. “Our guiding principle spans across all brands. And that is to provide quality healthcare,” she said.


Acer seeks bigger slice of PC pie Tech giant is pushing for 15% UAE and Saudi Arabian market share by the end of 2015, says Daniel Trachino, GM of Acer Computer (ME) Ltd.

Eye on Saudi Arabia One other regional market that Acer is focusing on with renewed vigour is Saudi Arabia, a territory in which Acer has enjoyed encouraging growth. “Currently our market share in Saudi is around 9% to 10%,” said Trachino, “which is much better than what we got a year ago. The target is exactly the same as that of the UAE: we want to reach 15% in the retail consumer market by the end of this year.” The Middle East has one of the world’s fastest-growing smartphone markets, according to an Ipsos MediaCT report. Acer responded recently by launching four separate handsets at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona. The models were among the industry’s first to be ready for Windows 10, Microsoft’s eagerly anticipated, makeor-break operating system. Multi-screen presence

Daniel Trachino, GM of Acer Computer (ME) Ltd.


aiwanese hardware heavyweight Acer has set its sights firmly on the GCC PC market and intends the UAE, as a re-export hub, to play a starring role in the company’s future story in the region. “Our target is to reach a stable 15% of market share in the UAE by the end of the year,” said Daniel Trachino, General Manager, Acer Computer (ME) Ltd., who joined the Dubai team in January after a decade-long stint at the company’s Paris office. Trachino explained that market share in the Gulf and wider Middle East is not as precise a science as it is in Western Europe. “We can only use two market metrics,” he said, “IDC, which is for shipments and GfK, which covers sales to consumers. When you compare shipments to sales in


the UAE, for example, you are not sure that the final product is staying in the country. You have to consider export to other countries, given that the UAE is a re-export hub, and so it is very difficult to know about market share.” GfK’s current figures for Acer extend only to December 2014 and do not include January’s historically lucrative Dubai Shopping Festival, but Trachino is encouraged by preliminary estimates that place Acer’s UAE market share between 10% and 11% as of the end of Q4. “We are thinking, based on the estimation that GfK gives us on a weekly basis, that we can reach at least 13% in January. We are growing and that is good news, but the UAE is only one part of the wider Middle East market.”

“We have completely separate divisions for the PC business and smartphone business,” said Trachino. “It is something we decided a few years ago because when you are a PC vendor, it is very difficult suddenly to become a smartphone vendor. “But for Acer it is important, in terms of strategy, to be present in all hardware categories – from 1” to 100” screens. Our portfolio spans wearables, smartphones, notebooks, tablets, detachable products, two-in-ones, all-in-ones, desktops, servers, monitors and video projectors. Twoin-ones is a key market for us. In the UAE and Saudi, we have more than 30% market share, so it’s a growing category.” Trachino is upbeat about Acer’s future in the regional marketplace, which he believes is a lot more mature than others suggest. “They say it [the GCC] is an emerging market, but I don’t think it is; if you go to UAE and Saudi, the distributors and retailers are really professional and operate at the same level you find in America or Western Europe,” he said.

NOOR always there to serve Egypt’s enterprises and now back to serving it’s people You are the most powerful and reliabas good technical and customer support. le network in Egypt. What makes you They may ask for managed services, dastand out next to your competitors? ta-center or disaster recovery services. We We differentiate ourselves by providing are up and running 24/7, to make sure we our customers with networks and services meet our customers’ demands. We consthat are highly reliable and available. We tantly innovate, and update our network operate a very robust, and highly redunto improve and enhance our service offedant network. We compliment this netrings. We have agreements with several cawork with excellent technical support and ble-carrier partners and service providers customer service. which enable us to extend our network, and service our customers in over 140 countries Last year, you celebrated your 15th globally. year anniversary. Can you state any successful achievements that you What do you consider today’s main have made? challenges in the network technology NOOR pioneered the “Free” (dial-up) Infield in Egypt? ternet service in Egypt when we first starNOOR relies heavily on the infrastructure ted in 2000. The Free Internet enabled conof Telecom Egypt, which tries its best to sumers to access the Internet for the cost keep up with our demands, as well as deof a local phone call, from “anywhere” in mands from mobile carriers and our comEgypt. We introduced the first broadband petitors. Of course, there is also the fact Internet service in the country. NOOR was that we operate in a business where techalso the first data carrier in the region to nology is constantly advancing and chanintroduce Multi-Protocol Label Switching ging, which means we need to constantly (MPLS) as a data-carrying mechanism. We be on the look out and able to adapt and created the first carrier-class data center advance along with our evolving environin the region. We built the largest and ment. most advanced Next Generation Network (NGN) data network throughout Egypt. Does your company have any set obNOOR left the consumer market in 2004 jectives for this year? and chose to focus on the enterprise marNOOR has several objectives for 2015. We ket, which it currently dominates. Today, will be launching a new satellite service in we are very much the enterprise network conjunction with one of our licensed partof choice in Egypt. We boast clients such as ners to extend our network’s reach and Egypt’s Central Bank, the Cairo and Aleservice some of our industrial customers xandria Stock Exchanges, the army, varilocated in remote areas that are not coveous ministries, multi-nationals, banks, red by terrestrial networks. NOOR will brokers, hotels, malls, universities, schools, also make a comeback into consumer industries, airports, airlines, and enterbroadband, a market we once created and prises around the country, including the now plan on reclaiming a significant porinternational consortium building the setion of. To this end, we plan on installing cond artery of the Suez Canal. “Free High Speed WiFi” Internet in public spaces around Egypt, while pursuing an You serve large-enterprises and key aggressive broadband rollout to consuEgyptian economic institutions. What mers in conjunction with Telecom Egypt, are some of the crucial demands of which will create jobs and directly imsuch big clients? pact the Egyptian GDP. Based on a study These types of organizations require highby the World Bank, every 10% increase in ly available and reliable networks, as well the broadband Internet penetration rate

Dr. Basel Dalloul, Chairman and CEO of NOOR Group.

in emerging economies is correlated with an incremental GDP increase of 1.4 percent and the creation of tens of thousands of jobs. NOOR plans on playing a significant role in expanding the broadband user population from the existing 3 million (roughly 15% of all households) broadband subscribers to the government’s target of 9 million subscribers by 2020. Finally, NOOR will be pursuing a consolidation strategy in the market to pull together some of our competitors to create a market that better serves its customers. Which of your services do you think can be improved? There is not a service that we cannot improve or innovate upon. It is the nature of the business that we are in. NOOR is constantly looking for ways to do what we do better, more efficiently and more cost effectively. In conclusion, would you like to add anything else? Sure, NOOR sees great potential and opportunity for growth in the Egyptian market across all of our services, especially our consumer broadband service. We will be investing aggressively in Egypt, the region and ultimately in the African continent.


TechAccess – Delivering complete IT suite Staying afloat in the fast-changing ICT sector is about being an early adopter of emerging tech, says Shomail Ghalib, President and CEO of Tech Access.


alue-added ICT distributor TechAccess has been operating in the Middle East for nearly 15 years. Headquartered in Dubai, the VAD’s ethos has always been to keep ahead of technology developments, and the company recently responded to the emerging third-platform (social media, mobility, big data analytics and cloud) trend by adding four new vendors to its portfolio. Newcomers Extreme Networks, Unify, NetScout and iVEDiX now complement established names such as Oracle and Hitachi Data Systems in Tech Access’ solutions pool. As Shomail Ghalib, President and CEO of TechAccess, explained, these companies form a part of the company’s expanding network of more than 400 enterprise resellers and partners across “17plus countries” in the Middle East, Levant and North Africa region. “Extreme, Unify, NetScout and iVEDiX complement our current IT solution stack as they offer leading networking technologies and mobile analytics solutions,” he said. “Our focus is to achieve success as the best VAD in the region by constantly adding in new solutions and services to our portfolio in order to develop our channel, and to bring a sustainable level of growth, not only to our business, but to our vendors and partners as well.” ‘360-degree support’

TechAccess adds value to its vendors and partners by supporting business functions such as marketing; logistics; sales/ pre-sales and finance. The VAD also runs high-end solution centres in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. “Our state-of-the-art technology centre provides hands-on demonstrations of


Shomail Ghalib, President and CEO of TechAccess.

the world-class IT solutions we offer to our partners,” Ghalib disclosed. “It is well equipped with the latest demo equipment and applications supported by our vendors. We use a ‘test before you invest’ approach with our partners; a specific solution set is created, deployed and tested as per the partner’s prerequisites, before they make an investment.” TechAccess also offers a premium partner-loyalty programme to its channel. Partners enjoy the best of both worlds as they are empowered to choose between business and leisure reward options. The business options include IT strategy courses at Oxford/Cambridge University and the leisure option features luxurious trips to Maldives, Greece, Paris, and many other destinations.

Complete solutions “This year, we will focus on leveraging our four new vendors’ capabilities to enhance our solutions stack, further develop the channel, and generate new opportunities for cross-selling,” noted Ghalib. “This will also result in attracting new partners to our channel and hence enhance our ability to target a whole new set of verticals with our existing products.” TechAccess now covers a host of technology solutions that includes data security, big data, cloud, virtualisation, and data storage protection and recovery. He further added that “TechAccess not only provides our partners with products catering to the increasing demand for these technologies, but go a step further by providing them with complete product and solution training”.

Protiviti focuses on specialised approach There is nothing cookie cutter about the way Protiviti handles its clients’ consultancy needs, says Arindam De, Managing Director and Country Lead-UAE.


one are the days when a one-sizefits-all approach is sufficient to address critical business issues of organisations across different industries, said Arindam De, Managing Director and Country Lead of Protiviti UAE. “In today’s world, organisations expect to deal with specialists who fully understand the nature of their businesses.” A wholly owned subsidiary of Robert Half International, Protiviti is a global consulting firm that helps companies solve problems in finance, technology, operations, governance, risk and internal audit.

It has presence in over 70 offices worldwide, serving more than 40% of all Fortune 1000 and Global 500 companies. The company started its UAE operations in 2007, leveraging on its brand image and expertise. In less than a decade, it has gained the confidence of several large government-owned enterprises and fast-emerging companies. “We deal with issues facing companies today by focusing on solutions that apply to industries like banking and financial services, energy and utilities, airlines, communications, retail, education, hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, media and real estate,” said De. “Our focused market offerings and solutions are closely aligned to our ‘best-inbreed’ methodology. We bring the necessary business process, technology and technical skills to deal with common business issues and priorities in order to realise targeted strategy and maximise shareholder value.”

Arindam De, Managing Director and Country Lead-UAE.

Its portfolio of solutions includes market intelligence, business plans and strategic advisory, corporate restructuring, transaction advisory, due diligence, business process re-engineering, technology consulting and human capital consulting, to name just a few.

Bespoke approach

In one of its recent consulting projects, Protiviti collaborated with a leading UAEbased downstream and retail oil and gas company. With a vision to become a leading energy and allied services provider in the region, the company sought to expand its network of services through organic, as well inorganic growth.

Over the past few years, Protiviti transitioned from a service- to a solution-focused consulting firm, De explained.

Protiviti addressed the client’s requirements through a tailor-made enterprise-wide re-engineering programme, which im-

pacted every aspect of the company from growth strategy, core operations and marketing; to architectural concept design, technology and business policies. “We ensured a 360-degree transformation of the client’s organisation as exemplified by our technical know-how, collaboration with international experts, efficient operations, implementing best practices, customer-centric approach, process re-designing and an environmentally responsible approach to the business,” De said. “Our medium-to-long-term growth strategy is to attract and retain the best talent, sustain the market reputation through enhanced service delivery, meet growing demands of the market and expand our solution offerings.”


EFG Hermes: 30 Years on as MENA’s Prominent Investment Bank Present in the UAE market since 2002, the firm established its place as third largest broker in Abu Dhabi and the sixth largest in Dubai as of 2014. Central in formulating the firm’s reputation as the region’s go-to investment bank, is Karim Awad, whose proven track record with EFG Hermes spans almost two decades. Awad’s tenure within EFG Hermes’ Investment Division between 1998 and 2013 had him advising major corporations on equity offerings and M&A transactions and playing an instrumental role in the development of the firm’s debt advisory practice. During this period alone the resilient investment banker led and closed transactions with an aggregate value of more than USD 40 billion – a remarkable feat during the firm’s most tumultuous years marked by regional political unrest and a global recession.

Karim Awad, CEO of EFG Hermes.


FG Hermes, founded in Egypt in 1984 is the leading investment bank in the Arab world with direct operations in Egypt, UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar Jordan and Lebanon as well as extended services to the rest of MENA through local offices. Specializing in securities brokerage, investment banking, asset management, private equity and research, the firm has the widest physical presence of an investment bank in the region. With a mission to capture opportunities across the Arab world and beyond, the footprint is broad: a diversified client base of over a hundred thousand, listed shares on both the Egyptian and London stock exchanges, and a 63.7% majority stake in Lebanese commercial bank, Credit Libanais.


Since assuming leadership of the firm in 2013, Mr. Awad has led EFG Hermes’ return to profitability. EFG Hermes just reported net profits after tax and minority interest of EGP 538 million for FY2014, which is the highest net profit since 2009 on the back of robust operational performance. The firm also widened its advisory business in an effort to capture an increasing share of the corporate advisory market, working on initial public offerings for Emaar Malls Group, Emirates REIT and Dubai Parks & Resorts. “In addition to acting as one of the bookrunners on the IPO of EMG and Dubai Parks and Resorts, we provided buy side advisory services to Al Futtaim Group on an acquisition in the Kenyan market and advised on the sale of Dubai First to First Gulf Bank, among others. Our ability to deliver results to our clients on all transactions has paid dividends in strengthening our brand name and has helped us secure several additional IPO, private placement

and M&A mandates that we hope to execute during the course of the next months.” Awad shares. Currently the growth strategy involves leveraging EFG Hermes’ direct presence in – and unique access to – the region’s most compelling markets. “Our strategy continues to focus on growing our market share across all business lines; in addition to our home market of Egypt – full-fledged licenses in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and brokerage licenses in Kuwait, Oman and Jordan. These markets will continue to be core markets for EFG Hermes. There are other expanding markets that we are currently looking at, including some in Sub-Saharan Africa.” remarks Awad. The MENA region will continue to be EFG Hermes’ area of expertise according to Awad, who cites the great returns on invested capital as thematic across these markets. As of now the Gulf contributes to 50% of EFG Hermes’ investment segment. “The MENA region continues to be one of the most interesting markets to expand in for a number of reasons, including its attractive demographics and a multitude of underserved sectors that offer ample future growth opportunities. The young and growing population of the region not only offers a large market to sell MNC products, but also a pool of skilled labor as well as highly educated professionals to man their operations.” Awad looks optimistically towards the firm’s ability to diversify further in the coming year, adding “The opening of the KSA market to foreign investors during 2015 should be another contributor to the continuing growth of our business in the Gulf. In addition, we run some of the best performing funds and portfolios in the region from our Dubai office. Those include the best performing Equity fund in Saudi Arabia as well as other best-in-class funds that focus on regional markets.”

Henkel looks to mop up more GCC market share Ahmed Nasser, General Manager, Laundry and Home Care-GCC at Henkel, says product innovation has been key to their success.


enkel, a German manufacturer and Fortune Global 500 company, is bucking the trend with continuous year-on-year growth in its laundry and home care products division across the Gulf region, according to Ahmed Nasser, the company’s General Manager for Laundry and Home Care-GCC. He regards research as an important ingredient for Henkel’s 17-year success in the GCC, a market teeming with opportunities and uniquely diverse and multi-cultural demographics. “We have put a lot of investments into market research so we can better understand consumers’ consumption habits and attitude towards products. By doing this, we are able to develop products that respond to their needs,” Nasser said. Henkel’s Laundry & Home Care portfolio of innovative products includes Persil, DAC, Purex, Vernel and Pril, among others. But a region such as the GCC is not without its challenges. “The region has a population of 52 million, who represent a very diverse consumer base, so the communication strategy is not straightforward and cannot be directed towards just one particular segment of the market,” he added. “However, what we did find out is that the around 60% of the GCC population are below 30 years old, who have a common desire for convenient, innovative and high-performing products.” Speaking from the Henkel office in Dubai Silicon Oasis, Nasser said the company is proud of its German roots, as well as its commitment to technology and high quality standards, which allowed it to become a trusted brand by households not only in the GCC, but also worldwide. Major source markets For Henkel, Saudi Arabia – the most populous country in the GCC – remains its big-

Ahmed Nasser, General Manager, Laundry and Home Care-GCC at Henkel.

gest market in terms of size, followed by the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain. However, despite its relatively small population compared with Saudi Arabia, the UAE holds the distinction of being the biggest market in terms of growth. Nasser said localising products to meet the specific requirements of customers in the region has helped Henkel further raise its brand equity. “We developed a special detergent called Persil Black, which targets female consumers in the region who wear abaya. In fact, the product is even being marketed as ‘Persil Abaya Shampoo’, which traces the old practice among abaya wearers of using actual shampoo to

wash their fabric as it was gentler than detergent,” he explained. The consumer feedback for Persil Abaya Shampoo has so far been positive, with consumers appreciating the product’s ability to clean and protect the fabric’s quality. Commitment to quality control The company’s manufacturing facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is capable of meeting the needs of all the markets that Henkel serves across the GCC. Nasser said the facility is one of the hallmarks of Henkel’s global operations and as such, uses stateof-the-art technology, while complying with international quality standards.


Localising marketing concepts, the mantra behind Marcom Arabia’s success


arcom Arabia started off as a direct marketing services firm in 1999 when the concept of direct marketing was nascent in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Today, the company has emerged as a leader in comprehensive marketing services and manages more than 200 events annually. The Saudi-based firm, has offices in Riyadh and Jeddah and has also set up offices in Jordan and United Arab Emirates. It’s Dubai office was set up to service 50 per cent of its international clients, who are based in the city. The firm has a strong foot hold in the GCC and Middle East region and aims to make further inroads by setting up more offices in future. Tailor-making marketing concepts “Marcom Arabia’s key to success is the firm’s ability to localise its services,” says Samir Ali, CEO of Marcom Arabia. “We have several clients who have been with us for over 10 years, including international brands. We do not replicate marketing activities that these brands carry out in other parts of the world, instead, we tailor-make concepts to suit the market we are working in.” Foraying into event management Ali strongly feels that starting off as a direct marketing services firm has played a vital role in the company’s success. “In 1999, we started our operations with direct marketing services, some international clients saw value in this service but the local clients used our service to send out event invitations. That helped us grow, because today we are a leader in event management which constitutes 50 per cent of our business where we provide 360 degrees event management services.” This means organising everything from


Samir Ali, CEO of Marcom Arabia.

inviting the right audience, audio and video services, airport transfers, room reservation, registration, food and hospitality. “That’s where the challenge lies,” says Ali. “Organisational expertise and ensuring the right audience attends the right event.” Since the company has a large database, the task has been fairly simple, says Ali. “That’s because we invest heavily in maintaining our database. Presently we have an updated database of 250,000 key people working across the top 50,000 companies in Saudi Arabia. This data base and direct marketing tools help us pass the right offer to the right customer at the right time, which is crucial for the success of the campaign.”

Providing different marketing solutions However, Ali clarifies that the company’s role is not limited to these services only. “We offer the complete spectrum of marketing activities including brand activation, telemarketing, experimental marketing which includes market research, surveys, loyalty programs and mystery shopping,” says Ali. “Whether the client opts for a gamut of services or one service, we consider them to be our partners. That’s probably why 70 per cent of our clients have been with us for years together. At the end of the day, our success lies in their success.”

Infinity: Excelling, innovating and finding new approaches to communication solutions Joseph Samaha, CEO of Infinity, said our Philosophy after discussing and analyzing the future is to attract, reach and impress.


ue to the proliferation of social media nowadays, Infinity is considered a developer in the media field, and social media is a totally new exposure on the cooperate level. In this area Infinity can excel, try to innovate, and find new approaches to communication solutions. Infinity is a local agency in Qatar that was established 12 years ago. The basic service that it was founded for is to be a full fledge agency and cover creative, media, public relations, production services, and every aspect that has to do with a full communication solution to a client. During the past four years, we have had a wider vision to expand Infinity to become regional, and one of our basic clients who accompanied Infinity’s journey is “Doha Bank”, which enriched our company’s portfolio to attract more clients; hence recruited more employees and emphasized more on the digital side during the past two years. Infinity’s Performance and services “The Qatari market is considered a prosperous one, where clients are eager to spend in the right place. Infinity’s outcome is the core fact that attracts clients from this market. To be a distinguished institution it is a matter of public relations, exceeding expectations, answering briefs, giving clear solutions, and the full dedication of the team to the clients,” said Samaha. Different teams perform the various services provided by Infinity; media planning strategy and booking, and the public

Joseph Samaha, CEO of Inifinity.

relation arm has a full team on board full of multinational talents excelling in both English and Arabic editing. Moreover, Infinity organizes events and provide unique solutions recognized worldwide.

proposal with the quality creative and efficiently spending”.

Currently we have signed a contract with one of the biggest entertainment and F&B groups in Qatar. Whereas, our future plans is to establish a bureau in Mumbai since we have a vast operation for “Doha Bank” running there. Later on we are looking forward to open a branch in Dubai in the near future.

Our philosophy after discussing and analyzing the future is to attract, reach and impress. We can attract clients by providing creative solutions after brainstorming and delivering a brief that answers the strategy; reach the audience by giving a good media plan ensuring that the maximum is being achieved by the efficient amount of money spent. Finally, impressing after the client increases the sales and exalts the portfolio of any institution.

Samaha stressed that “We are determined to improve Infinity by hiring multinational talents with multinational backgrounds; we make sure to deliver the service that was presented through our

To conclude, we are on the right track of becoming a regional agency with the wise leadership supporting us all the way and the inspirations we get from our esteemed clients.


DataFlow weeds out immigration fraudsters Douglas Nairne, Chief Executive Officer of DataFlow, says their professional integrity services naturally lend itself to the GCC.


apid economic growth and heavy reliance on migrant workers have made the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) a prime target for immigration fraudsters, who are keen to abuse the region’s open-border policy on foreign labour. Douglas Nairne, Chief Executive Officer of DataFlow, a provider of immigration compliance and background screening services, said immigration fraud is a USD1-billion-a-year global industry involved in the creation of fake documents, diploma mills, fake universities and companies that facilitate the falsification of work experience. “It’s a very big business. The challenge is to make sure that the skilled professionals coming into the region are actually competent and qualified to do the work that they are being brought in to do,” he said. DataFlow opened its GCC office in Dubai in 2007, a year after establishing its headquarters in Hong Kong. Since then, it has been working with government agencies and regulatory bodies across the Gulf region to provide primary source verification (PSV) and professional integrity services, as part of the governments’ accreditation and credentialing process. “When the GCC [economy] started growing, the professional regulatory bodies and governments here saw that, along with good qualified professionals, they are also attracting a lot of people, who are not qualified to do the work that they are doing,” Nairne said. “That caused a lot of concerns and resulted in us being approached by governments. We started working initially in Abu Dhabi and since then we’ve expanded throughout the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.”


Skilled labour shortage According to Nairne, skilled professionals such as doctors, nurses, medical technologists and engineers are highly in demand across the globe. But while some countries are able to meet most of their labour requirements through their domestic population, the GCC cannot because of its small local population relative to the size and scope of its economy. “More than anywhere else in the world, this region is reliant on high ratio of skilled imported labour and is competing with the United States, Europe, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Singapore and Hong Kong to attract good talents,” he said. And even if a country like the UAE is competitive, there is still not enough supply of skilled labour to satisfy global requirements. As a result, this supply-demand gap is being met through fraud driven by organised crime, Nairne added. Previously, fraudsters would use word processing or Photoshop software to falsify a document, but over the years, their modus operandi has become increasingly sophisticated. Today, there is a growing trend towards the establishment of unaccredited institutions that grant degrees or diplomas, which are not recognised by governments and professional associations. “We also see people who falsify work history; so they may be entering the region to do a job that requires around 10 years of work experience, for example, when in fact they have much less than that,” he said. What DataFlow does Another concern that DataFlow addresses is professional misconduct involving people who have lost their license to practice their profession in one country, but move

on to other countries – a by-product of globalisation. Unfortunately, Nairne said, globalisation has not progressed to the point where it has become easy for professional bodies in one region to know whether their counterparts in other locations have had problems with certain individuals. “We were able to develop proprietary datasets by going through all the various professional bodies worldwide and compiling a list of people who have lost the license to practice their profession. We screen applicants against those lists and we frequently find people who have lost their license to practice medicine in the UK, for example, but end up in Saudi Arabia, UAE or other countries in the region,” the DataFlow CEO disclosed.

“IT’S A VERY BIG BUSINESS. THE CHALLENGE IS TO MAKE SURE THAT THE SKILLED PROFESSIONALS COMING INTO THE REGION ARE ACTUALLY COMPETENT AND QUALIFIED TO DO THE WORK THAT THEY ARE BEING BROUGHT IN TO DO.” The company has developed a partnership with over 33,000 issuing authorities worldwide, allowing it to provide clients with accurate verification services using cutting-edge technology and an efficient process flow to ensure the highest levels of integrity and accuracy of information. In the GCC region, DataFlow finds several hundred people every month trying to gain employment despite being unqualified or facing malpractice issues in other countries, according to Nairne.

“WE WOULD LIKE TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS TYPE OF BACKGROUND SCREENING ON ALL PROFESSIONALS HOLDING QUALIFICATIONS OR DEGREES, INCLUDING TEACHERS AND ACCOUNTANTS, WHO ARE LOOKING TO GAIN ENTRY INTO GCC LABOUR MARKET.” Multidisciplinary background A former investigative journalist, military officer and MBA graduate, Nairne holds an impressive résumé that has given him a well-rounded background to become an effective chief executive for a company like DataFlow. “Journalism teaches you a lot of core skills, such as the importance of being able to communicate clearly, to assess the validity of information, and present it in a way that people understand,” he said. The skillset proved essential for the type of research that DataFlow provides, where they have to assess several types of information from various sources, decide which ones are credible, and deliver it to their clients as an easy-to-digest material. Nairne served as a reconnaissance officer in the Canadian Army, an experience that taught him strong leadership skills. He also earned an MBA degree, which helped him in understanding the commercial aspect of running a business. Growing DataFlow in the GCC DataFlow, which began as a startup, now has a 500-strong workforce with presence in 168 countries worldwide. It has also appeared on investors’ radar, attracting the likes of private equity firm EQT Mid Market, which acquired a majority stake that allowed DataFlow to expand and scale up. “What we’re trying to do is make the transition from being a strong regional player in what we do to being a truly global company. Having an investment from a private equity backer is helps us do that,” Nairne said. In the GCC, he said they have identified several areas where DataFlow can extend its services outside of the high-risk,

Douglas Nairne, Chief Executive Officer of DataFlow.

high-demand professions such as medicine, technology and the sciences. “We would like to be able to do this type of background screening on all professionals holding qualifications or degrees, including teachers and accountants, who

are looking to gain entry into GCC labour market,” he said. Indeed, DataFlow’s services have become increasingly significant as governments across the GCC clamp down on fraudsters.


Sky is the Limit for NEXUS Hence, a Flight Operating Services provider – NEXUS was formed.

Abdullah Al-Sayed, President & CEO of NEXUS.


ince its inception in January 2010, NEXUS – The only independent licensed Flight Operations Services provider in the Kingdom, has been scaling new heights and spreading its horizons under the wings of Abdullah Al-Sayed. Recently, CEO Report magazine had an opportunity to meet the dynamic President & CEO and to have an inside scoop for what is market like in this particular aviation field. Headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, NEXUS has a back-up Flight Operations Centre located in Bahrain. The company is showing rapid growth and now has branches in the US, Monaco, Austria, Rwanda and India and soon to open in China. NEXUS is eying to expand its branches in Latin America by 2016 as it is an emerging marketing. Al-Sayed is no new-bee in the aviation industry. Having spent 25 years in the


field he just had the right Knowledge and contacts. He informed that the company established numerous vendor relationships and partnered with highly respected international companies such as international security services company FAM, Internationally renowned aviation training company FlightSafety International, and the largest Middle East aviation consultancy firm MAZ Aviation Consultants. The company has also partnership with MedAire, a firm that provides training for in-flight medical emergencies. “We are proud of our tie-ups. It has bought wealth of experience for us,” he asserts. Al-Sayed explained that the company’s owners – the well experienced professional in the field realized that despite the presence of flight support services providers in the region there was a lack of specialized and professional flight operation services provider in the emerging markets like that of Middle East, India and Africa.

The major interest of NEXUS is in three aviation fields. First interest was providing a complete outsourcing plan for flight operation centers’ setups (also called Dispatch Centers) for low-cost or corporate airline operators or private aircraft owners. Outsourcing allows minimizing the budget of an airline since it has flexible plans depending on numbers of activities, aircrafts and staff involved. Second field is to establish flight safety and security centers. He informed that NEXUS entered into a partnership with the leading aviation safety firm WYVERN to form flight safety and security centers in Middle-East, India and Africa. Finally, NEXUS form training centers across the Middle East, India and Africa. He explained that most the training centers in the region are established by the local or national airlines. “However, we realized the lack of specialized training centers. So we signed a partnership with FlightSafety International – The largest aviation training center owned by Berkshire Hathaway Company. We are their partner in the Kingdom.” He boasted that NEXUS enjoys a wide range of clients from VIPs to royalty to a Corporate and Government entities and air carriers to commercial flight operator’s i.e from private to government and commercial clients. Talking about what makes NEXUS outstanding, Al-Sayed asserts that their focus on the market requirements. “We are very focused when we expand our business. We take little steps and make sure we are mature enough to take the next step. We have been complimented by our clients for our focus and specialized services. We also provide our each client with its own tailor made and personalized services,” says Al-Sayed. NEXUS guarantees top three Saudi graduates from its KSA Training Center in the field with job and boasts platinum ranking in Nitaqat.

CEO Report: Sustainable Business  

CEO Report presents future outlooks and insights from the most innovative companies in the United Arab Emirates and GCC countries. This Engl...

CEO Report: Sustainable Business  

CEO Report presents future outlooks and insights from the most innovative companies in the United Arab Emirates and GCC countries. This Engl...